Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grain Mill Discouragement

I have the Blendtec (formerly called K-Tec) Grain Mill. I have been using it for nearly 3 years now. In warm weather the mill grinds wheat very quickly and I can mill a week's worth of wheat without any problems.

During the winter however, I am having difficulties. The mill gets so warm while milling the grain that it causes humidity. The humidity is built up in the mill causing the flour to cake up on the underside of the the top (the actual mill portion) and also in the air flow areas. If you look at the picture, on the right hand side of the mill there is a small air flow outlet that has a sponge-type piece stuck into it to prevent any flour from blowing out the vent. That area gets very gummed up with flour each time I mill during cold months.

This problem is a real hinderance to my baking & cooking. We do not use white flour. Instead, I mill whole wheat flour. It is much healthier and also losts less than buying an equal quantity of wheat flour. So, now I am wondering how to solve this problem at least for the rest of this winter. We heat with wood, so the house is rarely as warm as a home with central heating would be. I have tried milling in both a cooler area and a warm area of the home with the same results. I can only mill about 6 cups of grain before having to thoroughly clean out the mill, letting it completely air out for a few hours to evaporate any moisture inside the mill, then mill another 6 cups of grain. A tasks that only takes 30 minutes at the most during the summer now takes all day.

If anyone has experience with such a problem and has found a way to help lessen it, I would love to hear from you. I am hoping to save up enough before fall to get a non-electric grain mill to use as we are going to be going non-electric. It will require me to mill wheat as I need it instead of milling a week's worth at one time, but that is fine. For now, I am just trying to find a way to get through the rest of winter with this mill not giving me such a problem.


homekeeper4him said...

Is your wheat getting any moisture in it during the winter months??? Because it almost sounds like the wheat actually has moisture in it versus the air around you.

Mrs. Dewey Smith said...

I am sorry about your milling troubles. I have no experience with electric mills at all. We have a hand-crank Family Grain Mill here.

What sort of non-electric mill are you looking into? We have talked about getting a new one. The Family Mill leaves the flour a bit on the gritty side. I thought perhaps it would be something we would grow accustomed to, but so far, it hasn't been :o( I am hoping to find another mill that will produce a more fine-textured flour for us. For now, I am sifting the flour after grinding twice :o(


Allie said...

I have the same mill- I haven't had problems with gumming up, but the little filter/sponge thing works its way out and shoots flour everywhere.

Can you contact the k-tech people and ask them if there's something you can do to fix the problem? What a pain!

LizBeth said...

Paula, I use a NutriMill, but all the demos I've seen have been with K-Techs. Most people just mill what they need at one time since the milled grain loses its nutrient value after 48 hours. Beth Holland just lets the flour dry out in hers and scrapes it out before milling the next time. She mills as she goes. You have humidity from the wood heat, too. (Better for your skin, hey, but hard on the wheat). I always run cold water through my filter and dry it completely before using it again. Have you called the distributor, yet? They should be able to tell you what would be normal for a home situation. I'd be curious to know what you find out. I've kicked myself several times for getting the NutriMill just because it's so big.

Prairie Mom said...

Thank you for the fast replies. I called Blendtec. They also feel it is the moisture in the wheat. Their suggestion is to dry the wheat before milling.

I am going to put the wheat in a roaster pan & place it on top of our wood stove to dry a few minutes before milling. The stove has a large vent on the top which will provide enough heat to dry the grain, yet not be enough to cook it. Talk about your aroma therapy! :)

Judy said...

I love my Country Living non-electric mill. Makes fine flour with not much more than a mild workout. I also have the bean auger to make bean flour.


Darlene said...

I have this mill. I bought it from someone who was moving and they didn't have the instructions. Not knowing that it wasn't packaging that he hadn't removed, I tossed the sponge out. I may have also tossed a piece of Styrofoam that I think I need to help muffle the sound.

I have learned that the missing sponge is a good thing. I think it lets the mill vent some of the heat. I mill outside on my front porch and except for one time, I don't normally have problems with it blocking up. I then sweep the porch when I'm done grinding.

The one time I did have a problem with the mill caking up may have been because it was hot and very humid outside. I put the mill away without letting it get completely cool inside and didn't use it for a couple of months. When I opened the inside, it was molded green. YUCK! I had to completely strip it to clean it. Even had to open up the inside motor to get all of the nasties out. What a mess to clean up.

I live in North Georgia and it is humid here. My wheat is in a large plastic-lined (clean - never used for trash!) trash can. It was out in my shed in FL and picked up a bit of moisture there. The grain from the #10 cans that friends from Utah gave me don't seem to cause as much dampness. But then, I open and grind a whole #10 can at one time and put what isn't used that day into the freezer in a zip bag that I remove the air from and then put the bag inside a #10 can. Freezing slows down the loss of nutrients. And grinding a whole can at once keeps the grain from picking up humidity from the environment here.

I'd be a little concerned that heating the grain too much would kill some of the nutrients in it.

If it's ok with you, I would love to hear others comments on hand grinders. I had a Corona mill I brought back from Colombia that was hard to grind with. I now have a "Little Ark". It came complete with both a set of stone grinder wheels and steel burrs. It was SUPPOSED to be "easy" to use. Yeah, well if you have a gorilla to turn the crank, you can make about a cup of flour in 30 mins. I'd love to have a hand grinder, but don't want to end up with a third rather useless hand grinder that is too hard to turn or won't make a true flour. (Flour shouldn't be gritty.)