Going the Whole Grain – Schnitzer Grain Mill Review

| Food & Fermentation | comments | Author :

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The whole freshly ground flour thing has been something i’ve been meaning to sort out for about 8 years now. And we finally did it! A delicious decision.

In our kitchen we tend to keep things whole + basic + home produced wherever possible. Life gets in the way of this a bit, but mostly, we get there.

Flour has been an ongoing point of contention. I would prefer to grind it myself. But i’ve never been able to organise an easy supply line.

Over the years I’ve bought various random + ancient hand-cranked flour mills from the op-shop, loved them for about a week, then failed to use them with enough regularity to remember where they’re stored.

Should the power go off one day and never come back on, I think I have at least 5 hand-cranked units, somewhere, that we and all our friends can use.

Long story short, hand cranking your flour takes quite some time to make enough for pancakes or a loaf of bread. To the point where I keep just reaching for the remnants of a bag of flour or rolled oats instead. Again.

Especially first thing in the morning. I wish I was an enthusiastic hand-cranking homestead goddess at 6am! But I’m just not. It’s early, and pre-coffee. Also, I want breakfast in the near future, and so does the rest of my family.

My solution has been, over the last few years, to save up for a damn fine stone ground flour mill. One that would outlast us, preferably.

And now it’s here. And it’s amazing.

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The basics of wheat and what happens when you mill it

Ok so a wheat berry is a grain made up of 3 basic parts – the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.

The germ and the bran of the wheat contains the majority of the goodness – vitamins B + E, as well as a bunch of excellent enzymes + nutrients. The majority of the protein is in the endosperm.

When a wheat berry is ground to flour, it starts oxidising, which begins to deplete those enzymes and nutrients.

There is A LOT of conflicting information of the interwebs, even from various national health departments, about just how much nutrient is lost as the flour oxidises + becomes older, and how quickly that occurs. It might be somewhere between 40 – 90% in the first 24 hours. Or it might not be that much.

My take is thus: a wheat berry is a living seed, and full of good things, as our ancestors have shown by staying alive + nourishing their families with it, these last thousands of years.

Given the choice, I would like to eat that goodness in as close to it’s alive state as possible.

It’s food, after all. Fresh is best.

So I figure that the fresher you can get your flour, the more nutrient dense it will be. Making it more food like, and worthy of your eating.

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So back to our new grain mill. We’re a bit in love with it.

We went with a Schnitzer Vario because we wanted a dependable, long-lived unit that was a two-in-one model for flakes + flours – the main things that we wanted were fresh flour for baking, and freshly flaked oats for morning porridge.

The flour that comes out of this thing is awesome. The flakes make the best porridge I have ever tasted.

Via our extremely un-empirical testing, pancakes made with this fresh flour are way more filling (2 each, max) than store bought flour.

Because of the nutrient density? Maybe. They taste very good.

Wheat flour + flaked oats from our grain mill
Wheat flour + flaked oats from our grain mill

And our freshly flaked oat porridge has become a breakfast standard. Preferably with sultanas and yogurt and our friend’s home made ghee. Oh my god. It’s so very good.

Apparently this stone-ground mill can also grind Rye, Spelt, Barley, Oats, Millet, Corn (Maize), Durum Wheat, Long Grain Rice, Round Grain Rice, Buckwheat, Linseed, Chickpeas, Dried Peas, Yeast Flakes, Coffee, Quinoa + Amaranth. Lots of adventures await.

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Switching to buying grain

This is one of the most exciting parts of this milling thing, for me. No more half-bags of flour which I try to organise in order of freshness but never figure out! Huzzah!

Now, we just buy a bag of wheat berries, and a bag of oat groats. That’s our basic flour + porridge buying, done.

Storage: Grains, being living seeds, will store at optimal condition for a long time, if stored properly. This is as simple as finding a cool dry dark spot and a good food-grade bucket with a tight lid.

Price: As you would expect, buying organic whole grains is a lot cheaper than buying the same volume of organic flour.

You could probably even justify the purchase of a good grain mill based on your whole grain vs flour price savings, if you like.

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The grain mill is also awesome for making not-entirely-wholesome things too, like this house cookie mix that we still make years after Chef Rose first introduced us to it. Mmm.

Lastly, if you do have a local mill, then we encourage you to support it and buy their fresh flour! Community infrastructure is awesome. For the rest of us without access to local flour, though, do what you can with what you have.

Do you have a grain mill? What do you make with it? We’d love to hear….

We bought our Schnitzer Vario from Skippy Mills Australia, and they were great to deal with. No kickbacks happening here, just a recommendation from our kitchen to yours. Enjoy.

Resources for going the whole grain

  • Skippy Grain Mills – the folks we bought our mill from
  • Demeter Mill – fine purveyors of organic wheat and other grains – now rebranded as wholegrain milling company, they sell whole wheat, oats, spelt + more, as well as flour.
  • Honest to Goodness – wholesale + retailer of Demeter mill grains + flour
  • Your local food co-op or wholefoods store should also stock whole grains in bulk.

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See the comments

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Comments

13 responses to “Going the Whole Grain – Schnitzer Grain Mill Review

  1. I’ve been thinking about one of these lately, from the same place you buy yours. What are your thoughts on wheat berries? Have you asked if they are GMO free? Just wondering, as GMO gets taken up more by farmers, it will be hard to source GMO free crops.

    I’m on a gluten free diet, because I’m sensitive to gluten, but I’ve been wondering if it was due to the high gluten hybrid wheat berries (often GMO) that flour companies use to keep their costs down. So do you have problems sourcing a good, wheat berry?

    1. Hi Christo, there is no GM wheat yet thank goodness. Source organic wheat because they wont be “dessicating the crop” with round up like apparently a growing number of wheat growers are doing. . No wonder lots of people now cant digest wheat and other things, their gut bacteria has been harmed by Round up residues. They use round up on spuds to kill off the crop evenly so harvest can go ahead in one go. The rolls royce of wheat is spelt wheat, an ancient grain , but it yields a mere five percent of a modern hybrid wheat. But with 95 % higher nutrition i bet. But the pricce reflects the difficulty of growing it.

  2. This is good to read! I’ve been toying with getting a grain mill for a while – I’m gluten intolerant too, and really sensitive, and it’s hard to source even rice flour, for example, that hasn’t been contaminated. And I hate having large amounts of random flours (you need so so many for gf baking) that get used rarely. It would be much nicer to grind on demand. There’s already so many low-nutrient substitutes, and additives in gf foods (I never used to buy ready made baked goods but baking gf can be such a hassle, now we do, and I hate that I’m eating this stuff).

  3. I own a thermomix which is a wonderful grain grinder and we used to buy organic wheat and rye to grin for flour. I must admit I didn’t always grind super fresh but I’d do a kilo or so at a time (I baked bread a couple of times a week), figuring that it would be fresher than the supermarket for sure. Now we’ve gone gluten free I grind at least some of our gf flours etc.

    I also recently purchased a small 2nd hand manual grinder for the time when the leccy goes off. In the mean time the kids think grinding is awesome fun. 😉

  4. I love my grain mill! My best tip is taken from the sourdough bread recipe in the back of Michael Pollan’s ‘Cooked’, which is adapted from Chad Robertson’s ‘Tartine Bread’. Mix up the flour and water the night before: it’s a revelation. Also, home-ground flour soaks up a lot more water, so you’ll need to play around with your dough hydration instead of just following a recipe, especially those written for white flour.

    The other thing is that I do sift out a bit of the bran (so long as the sieve is not too fine you’ll still get loads of the good stuff), which makes the flour a bit more versatile. You can always dust the top of your loaves with the bran so you still get to eat it, just without weighing down your dough too much. (That’s another Pollan tip from ‘Cooked’; I love that book.)

    My mill doesn’t do flakes, sadly, but I make a coarse oat flour (as in, oatmeal) and it’s fabulous. I was buying Bob’s Red Mil oatmeal anyway; this is just a fresh and sustainable version of the same thing.

  5. Hi Kirsten, any luck with pasta making from your own ground flour? Or even just buying durum wheat? Oliver

    1. Yeah, you just get a more wholemeal-ish pasta, which is fine with me. Would suit more robust sauces I suppose, but with butter and garlic, all is always well 🙂

      1. Thanks Kirsten. And you’re right, they are helpful folk at Skippy Mills. While durum wheat seems unavailable, sieving fine was their other suggestion, plus maybe finding the right mix with other stuff (I wonder maybe spelt grain?). Anyway, that’s me decided, getting one (slightly cheaper model though). Starting a wild and homegrown food year in July (while still working full time as a city shiny arse) with a few exceptions, which include whole wheat grains (and wine and olive oil because I am not an animal) – this is likely to be a lifeline. Cheers.O(liver

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