How to mill flour and save money

Mill Your Own Flour

by Pat Veretto

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Pssstt! Want to make a lot of bread? The eating kind, I mean!

It's a known frugal fact that baking your own bread can save a bundle of money. Using sourdough and milling your own flour can cut the cost of a loaf of bread to mere pennies and it's much better for you than that white fluff that comes already sliced.

If you buy white, bleached, flavorless and nutritionless flour on sale, and add a little cheap salt and a little sugar bought on sale, a little yeast and some liquid... oh, but the yeast can be as expensive as flour not on sale. And flour isn't always on sale, or the sales aren't always so good.

Have you looked at the prices of whole grain "specialty" flours in the store? So where do you start to make this kind of cheap but still good bread? You could buy the factory (or at least a grain field or two) for the price of a few pounds of store bought barley, rye or amaranth flour. And the flour you find on the grocery shelf isn't even fresh! The longer that whole milled grain sits unused, the less nutritious it becomes.

It makes nutritional and money sense to process grains yourself. Buy grains in bulk and/or as close to the source as possible. Even if you have to pay retail grocery prices, you'll still pay less for better quality if you buy the grains whole and mill the flour yourself. While you're buying, keep in mind that a cup of grain equals more than a cup of flour. Depending on the grain, it may be up to a quarter of a cup more.

You can mill just about anything at home with a grain mill. Besides barley, rye, amaranth, rice and buckwheat (don't forget wheat!), you can mill beans, lentils, rolled oats, millet, soybeans, corn, etc. The list is almost endless. Anything that's a hard seed/nut can be milled into flour and either added to bread dough, or used as the main ingredient. (Don't try oily nuts or seeds with a regular grain mill, as they will cake up. Use a special mill for those.)

Manually operated grain mills are more frugal in that they don't use electricity and they're cheaper to buy. They can cost anywhere from around fifty to a hundred dollars and more. It's best to try several out before buying. If you find one that seems flimsy or if it's very hard to turn with grain in it, don't buy it. (The more grain that's in any mill, the harder it is to turn.)

It normally takes more time to mill the same amount of grain with a manual mill, but it's perfect for the back-to-lander or simple living advocate.

Electric flour mills are great if your time is limited or if you have a large family so that you need to bake several loaves at one time. Although they're more expensive to buy as well as to operate, you'll still save money by milling your own flour.

Check Amazon for sale prices on grain mills

If you opt for an electric home flour mill, you should be aware that their fast milling abilities can heat grains and cause damage to the available vitamins, so don't buy the fastest you can find.

Make sure either type of home flour mill has good bearings and that all parts are smoothly machined or molded. Don't buy one with a suction cup that supposedly keeps it stable while you mill. "Supposedly" is the key word here. Look for a good clamping system that will open wide and close tightly. Be sure it will fit on your table or counter.

Getting back to basics with cheap whole grain bread can help get your budget back to basics, too, and help keep you healthy at the same time.

Pat Veretto is a work at home grandmother who has homesteaded, homeschooled and happily lived frugally most of her life. She currently freelances.

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