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All about grain grinding

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A reader emailed me recently to ask if I had a post dedicated to the subject of wheat grinding, and I discovered that I really do not.

whole wheat bread

Whole wheat sandwich bread: my most common use for freshly ground flour

There are a lot of snippets about it in various Q&A posts*, but I thought his idea of putting it all in one spot was a great idea.

*posts like this one, which also covers religious frugal bloggers!

I haven’t blogged much about grain grinding because I don’t consider it to be a high priority in the frugal life.

(Cooking at home instead of eating out? THAT is a priority.)

But since I keep getting questions, I figured a post would be good to have.

(If you’d rather watch a video of me answering grain questions, here’s a grain grinding YouTube video. If you prefer to read, well, keep scrolling!)

Why do you grind your own whole wheat flour?

Mainly it’s because whole wheat doesn’t stay fresh very long once it’s ground.

How many times has your whole wheat flour gotten a rancid smell and taste? It doesn’t take long unless you store your flour in the freezer.

I also find that fresh ground wheat flour has a milder flavor than store-bought whole wheat flour. Fresh flour just tastes better.

fresh ground whole wheat flour

And since I grind it myself, I can just grind as much as I want without having to worry about safely storing the extra.

(Wheat berries can be stored pretty much indefinitely.)

Also, stores generally only carry one kind of whole wheat flour.  But if you buy the wheat berries, you can get whatever kind you want; white whole wheat, hard red wheat, etc.

Lastly, it does appear that the fresher the flour, the more nutrients it will have (see this paper by the EAP at McGill University).

What grain grinder do you use?

For a wedding gift back in 1997, I got a Whisper Mill, which is no longer made.

Whisper Mill

The WonderMill is almost identical to what I have, and you can buy a reconditioned mill for less than $250.

This machine is fairly quiet (though every grain grinder is somewhat loud), it produces very fine flour, and mine has been working for over 23 years.

How much does a grain grinder cost? Is it worth it?

Honestly, from a frugality standpoint, I’m not sure it does.

A mill normally costs about $250 (less for reconditioned), so it’s not a small investment. You’d have to grind a lot of whole wheat flour from frugally-sourced wheat berries for it to make financial sense.

I think there are legitimate reasons to buy a grain grinder, but I don’t think it’s something you should buy for frugal reasons.

Luckily for me, I was gifted with a grinder, so my only cost has been the wheat berries.

To save money, you could try to find a secondhand grain grinder. I would imagine, like treadmills, grain grinders are something people buy with good intentions and then never use.

So, maybe someone in your area is selling one cheaply!

What else can you grind in a grain grinder?

I’ve only used it for wheat, but you can also grind rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, beans, and legumes.

This could be super handy if you want to make gluten free flours, such as rice flour.  If you use it for that purpose, I imagine the grain grinder would pay for itself pretty quickly.

Where do you buy wheat berries?

I buy it in 50 pound bags from a local co-op.

To make this remotely cost-effective, that’s really what you need to do; buying wheat berries from the bins at your local Whole Foods is going to be much more expensive.

wheat berries

Google to see what wheat buying options are available where you live.

How do you store wheat berries?

I have a large food-grade bucket that I keep my wheat in, but I’ve also kept it in super large glass jars before.

I freeze my wheat when I first get it, just to kill any eggs hiding out in the grains*, and then I store it at room temperature.

*When your grains/flours get bugs in them, it’s usually because they were already in your grains before purchase. That’s unavoidable, but if you freeze your grains for 4-7 days (I hear conflicting advice on the length of time necessary), then you’ll kill any hitchhiker eggs.

Any food-grade, air tight storage container will work.

What do you use whole wheat flour for?

Fresh-ground whole wheat flour works fine in any recipe calling for whole wheat flour. Here’s a list to get you started. And of course, you can use store-bought whole wheat flour in any of these recipes too.

Whole Wheat Recipes

Any other grain grinding questions for me?

P.S. If you want to see my grain grinder in action, the last few clips in the YouTube video show me turning grain into flour. 

What I Spent, What We Ate | $430 (!!)
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