10

Grain Mills: What’s your experience and recommendations?

Pretty self-explanatory. My food pantry includes whole grains because they naturally last a long time and with a little extra care, a really long time. But you need to keep them whole as the outer layer is the best packaging. Wheat berries can last 30 years based on studies done by the LDS church, but once you grind them into flour they go downhill fast.

I’ve owned a variety of mills, all but one of the antique variety. They were all small clamp-on type that eventually failed—or had failed before had even bought them LOL. I was scanning Craigslist etc every so often the last however many years looking for a better unit without any luck. Then came the pandemic and even the beer-brewer hobbyists machines and kitchen decoration items disappeared.

I want a $1,000 of course and had placed a pre-paid order for the new Green Power Mill from Lehmans that looks pretty cool. But it turns out that Lehmans has been sold and whether that, the JIT supply catastrophe or whatever, I had my money returned 6 months later when the mill still wasn’t in production. That was recently and prompted me to bite the bullet so I finally broke down and bought a modern version of the clamp on style, the Wonder Mill Junior.

It comes with both steel burrs and stone wheels and a second auger for nuts —and importantly— masa! But what is best are the drive options, it has available a power drill adapter, a large motor pulley, even a geared reduction pulley with drive gear. I opted for the bicycle sprocket attachment. I ordered one of those bicycle stands made to let you use your regular bike as an exercise cycle. I’ll get a chain locally. If I were ever needing to use this machine… and there was power of some type available, I’m confident I could rig up a motor. Most likely, in the event it is needed, the only power available will be me.

You can see in the listing that it has a square plate base rather than an integral clamp. The clamp device is mounted using machine screws. I expect to mount the mill, sans clamp, along with the bike stand on a piece of ply, probably using a hunk of 6-8″ steel plate as reinforcement under the mill. Several of my “clamp on” mills have failed at the neck due to metal fatigue, there is quite a bit of torque involved. And of course there is no way to mount a clamp style mill on most modern counters, let alone use with the bike rig I’m contemplating. Grinding more than a cup’s worth to rough flour consistently turns into work.

I’ve been dragging my feet on this purchase for a while, $400 all in for an item I’ll hopefully never use beyond simple experimenting is pretty high for my budget. The rational is, I probably have that much in stored grain and without a decent mill I’m limited to mush and sprouts.

So anyway, talk about your mills.

11

  • Comments (11)

    • 5

      I remember talking about wheat grinders on here a long time ago and found my old post! Here it is.

      I’ll copy and paste the discussion here for you though—

      -Sleepwalker: It seems like if wheat berries are part of your food storage you shouldn’t count on a electric grinder. My quick google search shows there are hand powered grinders with prices varying from $20 to $500. Do you have suggestions on what to look for in a grinder? Obviously it would need to be of higher quality as it needs to be dependable in an emergency, i just dont have a clue how to tell the good ones from the bad.

      -Zabeth: Personally, I like the WonderMill Junior Deluxe for a non-electric grain mill. It comes with both stone and metal burrs so you can grind both dry and oily grains and/or nuts. Also consider getting the flywheel and drill attachments for it, which can give you 2 different ways to motorize the mill if you want to.

      -Me: Years ago I was interested in getting a grain mill and did a bit of research and saw the same thing that you are seeing of so many various prices and features. From what I gathered, many people recommend the Country Living Grain Mill. But with that comes the big price tag.

      From my research, I also learned that hand cranking is SLOW! You have to crank for quite a long time to get enough flour to cook with. So what Zabeth said is true, you want to get some way to help you out and motorize that mill. But definitely good to have the basic hand crank as a last case resort like if the power was out.

      The WonderMill junior deluxe that she recommends is good as well and comes with various accessories to help speed things up. There’s the drill bit adapter, but I would make sure that you have a decent high torque drill that can withstand the power required. Your cheapo drill probably won’t be able to handle cranking this. Also make sure your drill is variable speed. Some of the older drills that we have are only one speed (high and fast), I think that would put a lot of strain on either the mill or the drill.

      If I was to get the WonderMill, I would get the bicycle sprocket converter. It will take a bit of DIYing, but your legs and gear conversions will make it so much more efficient. If you have the room to set up a bike and your mill on a stable surface, this could be a great idea. If you don’t have a bike, or want to keep your bike for bugging out and don’t want to harvest it for this purpose, get a beater bike at the thrift store. It doesn’t have to be pretty or even have all it’s wheels, but make sure it has a comfortable seat and good gearing.

      END OF PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

      Sooooo…. It seems like you ended up at the same conclusion as me and my research. Get a Wonder Mill Junior and the bicycle sprocket converter. Have you had a chance to use this setup yet? I would definitely set everything up and see how well it works and understand how much peddling you will need to do for a loaf of bread.

      • 2

        Thank you Essie, I didn’t find that in search.

        I’ll let you all know how it works soon.

      • 2

        Wish I was smarter and could figure out gear ratios. You know, how turning a wheel is a 1:1 ratio, but add a gear and maybe one turn of the gear equals two turns of the wheat grinder. I don’t know if it’s possible, but have multiple gears so that a single turn of a wheel will do like 5 times the work than not having the gears.

        Bet some machinist on here would be able to craft up something like that.

      • 3

        Keep in mind that with gears you are trading off speed and torque. You could set it up so that the grain mill turns 20 times for every turn of the bike pedals, but you would have to push 20 times harder on the pedals. 

      • 2

        See! That’s my point about being smarter. I didn’t know about that (enter face palm emoji)

        That’s probably why no company has done that before. Thanks for setting me straight.

    • 2

      My largest long term food store, by far, is wheat berries.  I have two mills… the Grainmaker & the Wonder Mill Jr.  I have never used either.

    • 3

      https://grainmaker.com/about/

      made in Montana – used to have only the Panzer of grain grinders available – now downsized models and has one specifically labeled for preppers 

      • 1

        Never heard it called a panzer but it most certainly is built like a tank.  The Wonder Mill Jr., on the other hand, is built like a bike.  It will certainly do the job, but I question for how long?  I don’t question the Grainmaker.

        Like I said I’ve never used mine, but have studied it as well as read online reviews.  If I was really serious about being ready to mill a lot of various grains, and needed the mill to always work, then I’d spend the extra $ and get a tank.

      • 2

        I liked the big models in the Grainmaker line because of the ball bearings.

    • 2

      I have an electric Blendtec Kitchen Mill, but a quick search suggests these are no longer being made.  It will crank out 5 pounds of flour in a very short period of time.  Makes quite a loud, high-pitched noise but it’s efficient.  I saw a couple on eBay.

    • 3

      So I tried out the Wonder Mill Jr. finally. 

      Delivery was no problem, just a couple of days (retailer is nearby (don’t know the rules here about endorsing retailers)). Packaging was adequate and undamaged, everything there that was supposed to be, documentation is adequate. 

      Assembly no problem. No tools required until you attach the very substantial double screw clamp base.

      Fit and finish very good, powder coated aluminum casting is substantial but lightweight enough for anyone to handle. Stones and burrs are very heavy, burrs are stainless (4 inch)

      side

      Mounting is easy and compared to my vintage style 2″ grinders rock solid. Absolutely no wobble even when mounted to a hollow core door/counter top. The big 5″ x 3.5″ base and ¼” steel clamp attachment are tops! This is a big deal in my experience, constant fiddling with the clamp and eventual fatigue failure.

      clamp

      Operation is very easy, surprisingly so in fact. Again compared to the vintage style. I won’t say it is effortless but the action of simply rotating the handle (with no stone contact) is about a third to half of what is needed when actually grinding. I wouldn’t think anything of operating this for 4 or 8 cups daily. I’d estimate 4 cups at 5 minutes max for a single pass. Of course I started out at a fairly slack adjustment to get the stones seated but even so I sifted out more than half of the first load of soft white wheat. This pic is first run after 2 passes.

      sifted

      I think one pass would be fine for bread, once I get the stones all dressed up. One hopper load will get about 4 cups unsifted. The Chief Cook tells me what I sifted would be fine for cake, etc. So overall a big thumbs up, and a third of the price of the dream Diamant.

      I also recieved the sprocket attachment, bike stand, and picked up a chain at Wally’s. But really I think those will go on the shelf, for two people, grey though we may be, arm power is fine.

      Finally, I will order a replacement bushing set and maybe a replacement stone set eventually, depending on my Doom-O-Meter reading. Without the pedal-power  stuff the cost was $300 + tax & free shipping. Bike stand, sprocket, chain piece of wood to mount probably about $100.