There are many brands of manual grain mills on the market, and the sheer variety of size, quality and price can be overwhelming. Fortunately, with the right information the choice can become quite simple.
Firstly, you have to consider why you need a grain mill. Will you be grinding many cups of flour every few days, making a large amount of baked goods, or do you just need a mill that can grind a little bit of cornmeal or crack a few grains for you? Do you need a large, durable mill that you can grind and grind on, or do you want a small, portable mill that you can store in your pantry and use once or twice a week to grind with? Do you need the ability to grind everything from the finest flour to the most coarse cereal grains or do you just need a middle-of-the-road mill that will make typical bread flour?
Victorio mills are the lowest tier of mill we sell, but the quality of even these had to meet our exacting standards: the outer body is made of reasonably strong metal, and the grinding cone is made of a stainless steel. The single-screw clamp provided with the mill does its job well, and held strongly without wiggling about in our testing. They grind from cracked grain all the way to moderately fine bread flour, leaving only fine pastry and cake flour out of their reach. These compact little mills aren’t as durable as others, but they should last for several years of average use. For their relatively low cost, the Victorio mills are capable grinders that provide a portable and simple solution for those who need a grain mill. For those who want even more versatility and power in their mill, or else who need to grind more flour, the Family Grain Mill is the upgrade to the Victorio system.
Family Grain Mills are a versatile breed: in addition to the mill itself there are everything from meat and vegetable slicers to oat flakers available for your mill. With this step up in variety comes an increased cost, but for a mill that is available in both manual and electric forms the cost is easily matched by the value. All that, and it still has the ability to grind from coarse to fine flour. The only downside to this versatile line of machines is that many of the parts are made of plastic. Naturally, the plastic doesn’t tend to last as long as the more durable mills made of solid metal, but for some the lighter weight of the plastic is an advantage in itself. The next step up from this mill is a bit of a harder grind, but is also more durable and capable of finer grinding.
The Wondermill Jr. (cousin of the electric Wondermill) is still compact and transportable, and with the increased cost comes higher quality; the Wondermill Jr. is made of carefully selected high quality metal. This mill is capable of grinding almost anything, including notoriously difficult oily seeds like flax and peanuts using special stainless steel burrs, at any fineness you might desire. Unlike previous tiers of mill, the Wondermill Junior also possesses grinding stones of sufficient quality to make very fine flour suitable for pastries. Motorization is very easy with the Wonder Jr., and you have two choices depending on your level of mechanical expertise. For those who want a simple, easy add-on the Drill-Bit attachment simply replaces the manual grinding handle and let's you use a power drill to grind wheat, rice, or even peanuts quickly and easily. The flywheel attachment, made for those with mechanical knowledge, let's you attach your Wondermill Junior to an exercise bike or a motor.
The final mill in our guide is one of the most famous, and is a substantial upgrade from the previous mills.
The Country Living is made of high-quality aircraft
aluminum (covered in a tough finish to protect your food) and covered by a lifetime warranty. In addition, this marvel of engineering can be adjusted to grind as coarse or as fine as you could wish. Its large flywheel and long handle (which can be extended even further with an optional attachment) make grinding quite easy, and it can produce quite a lot of flour in a short period of time. For those who want to give your arms a rest, the Country Living Mill also has an optional motorization kit that will power your mill, or else it can be modified to use a bicycle for power.