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It took a long while before I finally decided to get my own grain grinder. For several months, I had debated whether it would be worth the cost and the effort, but I finally decided to just go ahead and give it a try.
Grinding your own grain is getting more popular, at least among the natural real food crowd anyways, but the question is, is it really healthier to grind your own grain? I wondered that at first but after doing some reading and some thinking there were two main reasons that finally convinced me to get a grain grinder: the freshness of the flour and the cost savings.
Grinding Your Own Grain Gives You the Freshest Flour with Nutrients Still Intact
When a grain of wheat is in its whole, un-milled form, the oil inside the germ is protected by the hard outer shell, but once the grain has been ground, that oil is exposed to the air and starts to oxidize. Whole un-milled grains will keep fresh for many months, but once those grains have been ground into flour, they are only truly fresh for a very short time. The oils start to spoil quickly, and the content of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the grain begins to diminish. To be kept fresh for long-term storage, whole grain flour should really be kept refrigerated or even frozen.
White flour (aka sifted or boulted flour) stays fresh much longer, though. If the flour has been refined enough to remove the bran and the germ it’s shelf life is much longer. It’s still best to store it in a cool place, but it won’t spoil nearly as quickly as whole grain flour will, and, unlike whole grain flour, it doesn’t need to be frozen for storage.
When you look back in time to earlier centuries, it was common for just about every town to have it’s own grist mill. Those who grew their own wheat could bring their grain to the mill and have it freshly ground for them while they did their other errands in town, and those who didn’t grow their own could buy freshly-ground flour from the mills.
Now, though, since old-fashioned grist mills have all but disappeared, we’ve moved away from the tradition of buying freshly-ground, locally-grown grain to buying flour that’s been sitting on the shelf at the grocery store for months and months.
Grinding Your Own Grain Is Cheaper in the Long Run
If you want to buy freshly-ground, good quality flour that has been kept in cool storage, chances are that it’s going to cost quite a bit more than buying flour at the grocery store, and sometimes a lot more with the cost of special shipping processes that will keep the flours fresh until they arrive at your home.
Un-ground whole grains, though, are almost always cheaper, especially if you are able to buy them in bulk. You can often find good-quality bulk grains at health food stores or possibly even from a local farmer, or you can find grains online.
Whole, un-ground grains also easier to store since they are much more shelf-stable than flours are. As long as grains are kept in a tightly-sealed container (to keep out any insects) and stored in a cool, dry place, they should stay fresh for months and even years.
When you grind your own grain, you can have good-quality, organic, freshly-ground flour for much cheaper than buying pre-ground fours.
So, Is Grinding Your Own Grain Really Worth It?
My answer is . . . yes. Sometimes. 🙂
It really all depends on whether it’s more important for you to save money or to save time. If you’re on a tight budget but you still want to be able to have fresh, good-quality flour, then grinding your own grain is the way to go.
If you’re really busy, though, and you just don’t have the time to grind grain or you don’t have room in your home to store a grain grinder, then it might not be the best option.
I like to do a little of both. I don’t use my grain grinder every single time I bake something. When I have the time, I grind my own grains, but for those days when I’m really busy and run out of time for grinding or when I just don’t feel like putting in the effort to use my hand-crank grain mill, I keep some pre-ground flour on hand. And sometimes if I have extra time, I’ll grind more than I need for baking and save the leftover in the freezer to use for another time when I might be busier.
I guess the way to have the best of both worlds would be to have an electric-powered grain mill so that you could have freshly-ground flour without having to spend time or effort on grinding. Maybe someday 🙂
What’s the Best Type of Grain Grinder?
There are so many different types of grain grinders available online, and it can be really confusing to figure out which ones are the best. I spent a long time looking at the different ones and reading reviews about them. I was tempted to just go with the cheapest one I could find just to try it out, but I read so many bad reviews about the poor quality, that I decided it would end up being a waste of money if I bought one that broke just a few weeks later.
This is the grain grinder I’ve been using for the past year. I decided to get it because it was a good middle-range one so I could give grain grinding a try without spending tons of money on the really expensive ones, but it still looked like it was good enough quality to last for a while.
So far, I’ve been very happy with it. It works just as well for me now as it did a year ago when I first bought it. It does take a bit of effort to grind the grain (obviously!) since it’s a hand-crank grinder, but since I don’t usually grind massive amounts of grain all at once, it’s manageable for me. And who needs to go lift weights at a gym when you can tone your arms turning the crank anyways, right?
If you have a large family and you do a lot of baking, though, it might be worth the while to get an electric-powered one unless you can somehow convince your kids that turning the crank is a fun activity 😉
If my hand-crank grinder ever breaks, I might just break myself out of the 19th century and get one of these new-fangled electric-powered ones. I guess it would be like the modern-day equivalent to having your grains ground at the town mill while you did the rest of your shopping at the mercantile. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying the freshly-ground flour I get from my faithful old-fashioned hand-crank grinder 🙂
This post is shared with: Party Wave Wednesday at Holistic Squid, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Thank Your Body Thursday at Thank Your Body, Natural Living Link-Up at Jill’s Home Remedies.