Grain mills can be used for a variety of purposes and are easy to shop for. They are most commonly used to grind almost all grains as well as beans and nuts. These grinders used to be much larger and were turned by water wheels, windmills and animals. Today, mills come in a variety of sizes and can be either hand or motor powered. Some mills have adjustable grindstones that can be adjusted for various grains.
A stone grinder, the oldest type of grain mill, contains two circular grinding stones - one stone turns against the the other stone which remains stationary. The stone has grooves cut into it that are deep at the middle and become more shallow near the perimeter. The grain starts in the deep groove and through the grinding process moves out towards the edges where it gets ground. Many grinders are no longer made of stone and are instead made of other hard materials. A burr grinder is very similar to stone grinders and is made out of steel.
Stone grinders come in hand-powered and motor-powered versions. Which you purchase will depend on how often you need to use the grinder, how much you need to mill and if you need a backup machine. If you mill grain daily an electric grinder will save a lot of time and energy and if you rely on the grain mill you should consider having a hand-powered backup in case the power goes out. Some mills are hand-operated, but can be motorized. Consumers have had various levels of success with these, so check the reviews to make sure it is easy to do and reliable.
Along with grinding wheat into flour for fresh bread, grain mills can be used by at-home beer brewers for the freshest hops. Grinders can range in price from under $40 to over $350 and the quality will vary even within the same price-point. When deciding which grain mill to purchase take into consideration how much grain you will need to mill and how quickly, how frequently you will used the grinder, if you want hand-powered or motor-powered and which type of material you want your mill made out of.
If you are purchasing a grain mill for a small business you need to factor in how much grain you will need to mill at one time. Commercial mills are adjustable for various textures. The type of mill you choose will also depend on the type of milling you do be it dry grains or higher-oil grains. A stone burr mill is best for grains like corn, rye, wheat and oats and will produce a very fine flour. Iron burr mills can be used for oilier grains, coffee and spices but will not give the finest grain.
Make sure your purchase is easy to clean, store and move. For home use, consider a lightweight option. Grinding your own wheat will give you a higher nutritional value than purchasing it from the store and will produce a more nutty flavor than store-bought flour.