More and more bakeries nationwide are milling their grains due to better flavor, longer shelf life, and better nutritional value. If you’re an avid baker, or even if you only bake bread occasionally, you might be curious about doing it yourself, too.
So can you mill your grains at home? The answer is a big yes. Yes, you can mill your grains at home, whether you’re using a regular coffee grinder, a food processor, or an actual milling machine.
But the real question is, is it worth milling your own grains? Well, this article will talk about whether home-milled grains are better than store-bought and why you need to try them.
Why Mill Your Flour?
Many home bakers have said that milling their grains at home has become life-changing. The sweet aromas of freshly baked bread using home-milled grains are incomparable to white flour bought from the store, and research has shown that they’re packed with nutrition, too.
But is it worth it? It depends if you have the time to do it and if you have the right tools. Here are some benefits of milling your grains at home:
1. Freshly Milled Grains are More Nutritious
Did you know that whole wheat flour doesn’t contain all the grain? Yep, most store-bought wheat flours are a mixture of white flour and bran from whole wheat grain.
This means that you’re not getting the complete nutrients from grains with store-bought flour. The endosperm, which contains most of the vitamins and minerals in wheat grain, gets lost in the milling process in factories, and what you get is a less nutritious flour.
With freshly milled grains at home, you get the total nutritional value of wheat grains. Think of it like picking fruit from the tree. When you eat the fruit, you get most of its nutritional value. But when you buy fruit from a store, it has undergone freezing, storage, and shipping, and what you’ll get is an exposed fruit that has lost most of its vitamins and nutrients.
2. Freshly Milled Grains are More Flavorful
Because the flour is fresh, packed with nutrition, and does not have any other added ingredients, you will have the complete form of wheat or whatever grain you use. Full wheat flavors usually don’t have the bitter taste of store-bought wheat flour, and the result is sweeter, lighter, and more aromatic than store-bought flour.
And for this very reason, many bakeries today and home bakers are now milling their grains for their distinctive aromas and flavors.
3. More Options with Grains
If you want to experiment with grains, you need to mill your flour at home. This is because home milling machines allow you to make flour out of almost any grain or beans, such as lentils, rye, rice, corn kernel, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, beans, mung beans, millet, chickpeas, and more. You can even make custom flours like gluten-free for baked goods and bread baking.
You can make bread out of almost any kind of grain, and the possibilities are endless. You can experiment with flavors, mix nutritional values of different grains, and there are just so many things you can bake with varying kinds of grains.
4. Longer Shelf Life
Whole wheat flour and other regular flour bought from a store usually last six months, while white flour can last up to a year. Milling your grains will last longer if you store them in a dry, cool place.
How to Mill Your Flour
Are you convinced yet? Well, before you go ahead and buy a milling machine for home use, you need to know a few things about making your flour at home.
If you want to make wheat flour, you’d need whole wheat grain kernels or also known as wheat berries. This is the most commonly used grain for milling flour at home, but as mentioned earlier, you can mill any grain or bean with a milling machine.
If you don’t have a milling machine or you don’t want to buy one, you can use kitchen appliances you have at home, such as a burr coffee grinder or a food processor.
Using a Coffee Grinder
A coffee grinder will only get you so far, so you’d need to experiment and make a lot of trial and error about which grains you can mill. The quantity will also be relatively small, but milling your flour with a grinder can be a good start if you want to experiment first.
Using a Food Processor
You can also use a food processor to make your flour. However, because this kitchen appliance is designed to cut or chop vegetables, fruits, and meat, they may not be strong enough to mix whole wheat kernels thoroughly.
An industrial food processor might do, but if you have a regular one, you might not get the more delicate texture that you need to make bread.
Using a Home Grain Milling Machine
If you want to invest in a good quality home milling machine, you can buy one, so you can make large volumes of flour. A milling machine is perfect for making flour at home because you can choose different textures, such as coarse to fine. They also work fast, so they’re easy to use and give you expertly made flour in minutes.
But, if you’re not planning on making large volumes of flour, you can buy countertop milling machines such as the NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill, a beautiful piece of kitchen device that fits into any kitchen.
Appliances like these quickly and easily mill all kinds of non-oily grains, and you can make a small amount of flour at a time, just enough for a fresh batch of wheat bread for a Sunday brunch at home.
If you make bread regularly, investing in a high-quality, durable, and long-lasting home milling machine is the best option. You can make large volumes of flour for later use since freshly milled grains have a longer shelf life than bread flour from a store.
The Disadvantages of Milling Grains at Home
Like all things, there are always pros and cons to everything. And there are several disadvantages to milling your grains at home. Let’s take a look at why many people would much instead buy store-bought flour.
1. Learning Curve
Milling your grains takes time to learn. Sure, you can mill wheat berries or beans anytime if you have a milling machine at home, but to get the perfect texture and consistency takes a lot of trial and error.
Also, freshly milled wheat flour does not have the same characteristics as store-bought flour. They are much more complex, and it takes a while for you to get the hang of using homemade flour.
So if you’re expecting to bake the perfect sourdough bread on your first milled flour at home, you might be disappointed.
2. It Takes Time
Milling your own grains takes time. You won’t be able to bake right away if you want bread in an hour. But you can make large amounts of flour in advance and use it for later.
You need to store your milled grains in a dry, cool place so you can use them the day after or when you need to.
3. Large Investment
If you want to buy a milling machine, it may be expensive upfront. And, you’ll also most likely buy your berries or grains in bulk so you can buy them cheap. But, once you’ve purchased the machine and your supplies, milling your grains will be so much cheaper in the long run.
So is milling your grains worth it? The answer is yes, of course! The flavors, nutrition, customization, and sweet aroma of freshly milled flour are unparalleled. Store-bought flour can never compare.
If we look at freshly milled flour vs. store-bought flour, the benefits of the former far exceed the latter, and if you have the time, money, and passion for making delicious bread, then producing your flour at home is definitely worth it.