Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Family Grain Mill Review

In an experiment in 1970, a biochemist at the University of Texas, fed "enriched" white bread to rats for three months; two-thirds died, the others became sick (Basey). It is no wonder that more and more people are turning to whole-grain foods for sustenance; in fact, many prefer to grind their own wheat at home using table top grain mills and grinders to obtain maximal nutritional value and peace of mind. Among the various brands of grain mills on the market today, perhaps none deliver a more versatile and value-packed product than the Family Grain Mill.

The Family Grain Mill was first produced by the Messerschmidt company in Germany over 27 years ago; now, the mill utilizes state of the art materials like Lexan plastic and surgical steel burrs (Grain Mill). But why do people choose to grind their own wheat as opposed to simply buying whole wheat bread in stores? According to the FDA, breads and other products may label their food as a "whole grain food" as long as the food contains 51 percent or more whole grain ingredient(s) by weight (Health Claim Notification for Whole Grain Foods). Freshly ground grains, on the other hand, contain 100 percent of the grain and protects against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, prevents constipation, and offers a reliable food supply in the event of an emergency (Basey). The Family Grain Mill makes it easy to make fresh flour and provides at least two methods to grind “wheat, oat, corn, (not popcorn) rye, spelt, kamut, barley, rice, peas, most beans, coffee, flax seeds, sesame seeds, most dried herbs, dried jalapenos and other hot peppers and more” (Grain Mill).

First, the Family Grain Mill includes a hand base that attaches to a table or counter top and allows the operator to grind wheat by hand. The hand crank is metal and allows an operator to produce roughly two cups of flour in three to four minutes (one loaf of bread requires 4-6 cups of flour). The benefit of the hand base is that in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, or where electricity is not available, flour can still be milled. The crank is long enough that it can be operated by a small child, but does require manual effort and determination to mill enough flour for a batch of bread. The mill easily disassembles for cleaning and has an adjustment for very fine to coarse flour.

Second, the mill is easily motorized by attaching it to a popular mixer like a Kitchen Aid or Bosch mixer or by attaching it to the Family Grain Mill motor base. When motorized, the mill will produce over one cup per minute without overheating the flour- an important feature to retain as many nutrients as possible ("Family Grain Mill Demo"). However, even when motorized, the mill is not as fast as electric-only grinders, which can process upwards of two to three cups of grain per minute. Additionally, while it will attach to the smallest of the Kitchen Aid mixers, its motor will quickly burn up and is not recommended for use with the Family Grain Mill (Grain Mill).

Every grain mill uses some method for making flour- be it grinding, crushing, or beating. The Family Grain Mill utilizes “burrs”, a popular method for grinding the grain. In this process, two steel, stone, or composite plates, called “burrs” rotate against each other; the individual grains are fed between the two crushing or breaking the grain into flour. The Family Grain Mill's burrs are steel plates, which are grooved to aid in the feeding of the grain; the result is a finely “cut” flour as opposed to a “crushed” flour than stone or composite burrs produce- although the steel burs will eventually wear out sooner than stone or composites. The adjustment mechanism on the mill controls the distance between the plates and allows for varying degrees of coarseness. Most electric grinders utilize high-speed “impact” method, which slings the grain into an opposing grain and explodes the grain into flour- this method is rapid, but provides no means of coarseness control and is more limited on the types of grain they can process.

At around $140 shipped, the Family Grain Mill rests firmly in the low-to-middle price range of table top wheat grinders that most families can afford. While certainly not as aesthetic or durable as an all metal grain mill, its plastic parts help to keep the manufacturing and shipping costs low, while the steel burs provide the strength and durability where it is needed the most. The Family Grain Mill's lifetime warranty on defects and nearly three decades of milling history provides the peace of mind to those seeking to grind their own flour and will complement any family's kitchen appliances.

If  you enjoyed this article or found it useful in your decision to purchase a grain mil, please visit my webstore an purchase a mill from me!

Works Cited
Basey, Marleeta F. "Why WHOLE Wheat is WAY Better." Mother Earth News 207 (2004): 76-83. GreenFILE. EBSCO. Web. 14 May 2011.
"Family Grain Mill Demo." YouTube. Web. 14 May 2011. .
Grain Mill. Family Grain Mill System. Web. 14 May 2011. .
United States of America. Health Claim Notification for Whole Grain Foods. , 1999. Web. 14 May 2011. .

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