I finally decided to pull out this Back to Basics Hand Grain Mill that I purchased a year or two ago and give it a whirl. I do remember fiddling with it when I first purchased it from Amazon but I never actually tried to use the grain mill… I know, not the best of plans.
Anyway, I decided I was going to make flour for bread this weekend and so I dug out my grain grinder, un-boxed it, and assembled it in a good 30 seconds or so; I didn’t even need directions! You literally unscrew a nut, slide on the handle, replace the nut, and insert the hopper extension in the top. There’s no oiling or anything like that. And, according to the manual the mill should never need any maintenance unless I damage it, which is even better.
Since I had no idea what to expect, I choose to put a good cup to cup and a half (but didn’t measure) of hard red wheat in the hopper. At first, I was disappointed with the seemingly relatively small hopper size, at least with respect to the hopper size of the food strainer I recently reviewed. Five minutes later and I could see why there was no need for a large hopper. Apparently, milling grain is a pain in the you know what!
As I wanted to see the difference in milled grain size, I choose to mill the wheat coarsely and it showed. I obviously could not use it as flour. The thing I did notice was that I couldn’t then adjust the mill to a finer product while I still had wheat kernels in the unit. Maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing but I sure couldn’t tighten up the nut any more until I had either finished milling the grain or removed it.
So, I finished milling, adjusted the grain size to be as fine as possible and milled again. This time the output resembled more of what I expected; you can see the difference in the original red wheat kernels versus the finished product in the photo to the right. While I could tell that my finished product wasn’t as uniformly fine as commercially made flour, I figured it would work just fine for my intentions and didn’t bother with milling it again. I assume that had I choose the finest setting then I would only have needed to mill the flour once but I didn’t test it any more than that.
Ultimately, this process yielded two cups of flour to use from, what I suspect, was maybe a cup and a half of wheat kernels. As for ease of use, and remembering that I have nothing to compare it to, this was a workout! Not so difficult to use or even to turn the handle but, rather, just time-consuming; more so than I expected. I would imagine this is true of nearly any grain mill you purchase. Of course, many people swear by the Country Living Grain Mill (shown below) which may be significantly easier to use, but I just can’t afford that just yet.
With respect to this Back to Basics Hand Grain Mill, I believe the unit will suffice for any short term emergency situation. Maybe it won’t last a lifetime but it will do just fine for occasional use and extended emergencies. Overall, the mill seemes sturdy and generally well-built. The only potential concern I have is a plastic spacer used to separate the handle from the unit’s base but that’s probably a trivial concern. The main parts of the mill are stainless steel which is what counts. All in all, I’m happy I purchased it and ever happier that I used it!