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Grinding grain for the 1st time.

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by fortunateson, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    I recently received delivery of this grain grinder:
    Kitchen*|*Grain and Grain Mills*|*Our Best Grain Mill - Lehmans.com

    First impression is that it's a very solid build with cast iron body and cast iron burrs. The body is enamel coated. Heavy.

    I had some trouble mounting it as it requires a couple of inches of table lip to properly seat. I ended up using the end of a 2x4 held in a vice!

    I tried grinding popcorn to make cornmeal as I've heard that popcorn makes a good storage grain and great cornmeal.

    To put it simply - it was TOUGH! Those little kernels are hard and it took about 45 minutes and a major arm workout to get about 2 cups of meal. The whole time I couldn't help thinking about how to motorize the thing. It was no fault of the grinder, just that popcorn is very hard to grind.
    The end result was a coarse meal that baked into a coarse bread. It was a workout to chew also!
    Let me just say, however, that the bread was some of the best I've ever had. I was told to expect this as the meal that comes from a grinder is way better than the stuff you buy in the bag.

    In retrospect, I would have gone for a coarser first grind, then sifted and reground the meal until it was finer. That probably would have been less work than trying to grind fine right off the bat.
    The next day, the bread was a bit more "tender" if that makes sense. Seems like the corn had absorbed some of the moisture and softened up.
    I would also try to let the batter sit overnight so the meal would absorb some water.

    I did try grinding some rice. That was WAY easier. I look forward to finding a rice bread recipe since wheat and I don't seem to get a long.

    The grinder is good. Popcorn in the grinder - not so much.
    I thought about this a bit and I feel that although the grinder is well built, more can be done to improve the ergonomics without having to motorize it. Motorizing doesn't make much sense in a survival situation. There is leverage to be gotten and bigger muscle groups to utilized.
    Eventually, I want to figure out how to mount a bike sprocket on it. I have no doubt that the grinding would go much quicker via pedal power.

    Just as an aside, I rediscovered traditional popcorn as a result of this experiment.
    To those who've forgotten: Throw kernels in a pot, cover with oil, put on high heat. Cover with melted butter, salt liberally. Yum.
    My kids couldn't stop eating it. No comparison to the microwave stuff they're used to.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    If you do go thru with motorizing it, be cautious of how fast you run it. Bearings might be problematic at faster than hand driven speed.
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    When I played with a small counter-top mill I came to the realization that IF forced to do that on a regular basis for your daily bread, I'd probably have wished I had purchased the biggest, bestest mill available.

    it is hard work and if I fell it, the mill also feels it. Think about spare parts.
  4. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Maybe you saw my post about my latest flea market find of an antique corn grinder for $25. The only identification anywhere on the grinder was a cast in (3 MB) on the base. Today after cleaning and drying it, I used it to grind about a quart of yellow dent corn. First pass the burrs were set so that the result was about like cracked corn chicken feed. I was hesitant to go too fine to quick (my concern was for the burrs and the grinder - I have no instructions for this thing and had never used a manual grinder before.) Four passes total and I have and excellent bag of fresh ground cornmeal as good or better than most I have bought. I think the first pass (cracked corn grind) was a good idea. That pass was the hardest to grind but not that bad at all. The whole quart in about 3 minutes. Each pass after was even easier. All four passes in less than 10 minutes. I love this old grinder. An internet search turned up 3 near identical ones for $150 to $250, and they didn't look as good as my flea market find. I made a deal with a friend that I will grind his corn, and he can grind my wheat. Saves us both time and money and needless expense.
  5. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    Update: I ditched all the popcorn and went with dent/field corn (packaged as deer corn) for my storage.

    I did grind some of it up for corn bread. It was easy to grind and made an outstanding bread.
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