Author Topic: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill  (Read 9583 times)

Offline firetoad

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Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« on: December 12, 2008, 07:56:39 PM »
Thought that for number 300, I should post something worthwhile, so here it is...

For long term storage of grains, many choose to store "unprocessed" grains in lieu of processed flour.  Some even choose to supplement or completely replace store bought flour with home ground grains.  So, someone has a 50 lb bag of wheat kernels and needs to turn it into flour.  What to do, what to do?  A grain mill, that is what you do!  There are many different types of mills on the market from manually operated to electronic, automated appliances.  For those on a budget and/or looking to simply supplement their current use of flour with a little bit of "whole" wheat, home ground flour, a simple hand operated, manual grain mill might be the best choice. 

This is a review of the Back to Basics, Hand Operated Grain Mill for use as a supplement/prep/SHTF piece of equipment.  I purchased this grain mill from beprepared.com for $60.  It arrived quickly and without issue.  It has sat on the shelf for a week or two now and finally got around to giving it a little test run tonight.  I turned it into a little family project to teach the kids where flour for cookies, cake and bread comes from and for daddy (ME) to make sure the mill works and how to work it properly.

Unpacking the mill, this is what I found...

The picture above details the parts that make up the mill:  housing and milling ring, milling cone, handle and hopper.  Very simple piece of equipment!  The mill is not very heavy but seems to be well constructed and up to the task it was purchased for.  The most important pieces of the mill are obviously the milling surfaces, found on the milling ring and milling cone.  These are the actual grinding/cutting surfaces that will crack your wheat kernels and turn them into flour.

The next thing to do is the setup of the mill.  It is a very simple operation, the milling cone slips into the center of the milling ring.  The tapped stud at the back of the milling cone extends out of the back of the mill housing.  A spacer and the handle slips over top of the cone's stud and a mounting screw secures the handle to the cone stud and the cone into place.  Next, the hopper just slips onto the top of the grinder.

To secure the mill to a hard surface (table in my case), use the mounting pad at the bottom of the mill housing.

Here are some pictures of the wheat that we used to test the grain mill.  For those interested, this is one of the #10 cans packaged and sold by the LDS church.  The grain is a Hard Red Winter Wheat.  It was very reassuring and nice to hear the whoosh of air when breaking the seal of the can with a can opener!

Next, I placed approximately one cup of wheat into the mill hopper.  There was still plenty of room in the hopper, so you can easily put more than one cup of wheat kernels into the mill at a time.  Or, just put a cup in and keep adding fractions of a cup as you grind away.  Looking at the back of the mill, I started turning clockwise.  The milling action was actually easier than I expected.  As long as you keep moving the handle and don't start/stop, it is really a piece of cake.  The only recommendation I would make up to this point is to make sure the hard surface that you mount the mill to has a large enough overhang to get a full bite with the mill's mount.  The table I used did not have quite deep enough of a ledge/overhand to keep from having to use a second hand to keep the mill in place.

Here is a shot of some of the first bit of freshly ground wheat:  flour.

Looking at the ground wheat a little closer, you can see that it is not as fine as store purchased flour.  The kernels' hulls are not broken down as well as the germ of the kernel.  However, this can be taken care of.  I will look a little more into this later in the post.

The milling itself was easy enough for a 5 and 3 year old to do.  They had some problems with it, but their issues mainly stemmed from their non-fluid, start/stop motion.  When actually continuously grinding, it wasn't the easiest for them but they could do it and keep grinding. 

To remove some of the kernels' hulls, I used a rather course sifter (the only one I could find in the cabinet).  It obviously removed the larger hulls, but some still remained.  Below are some pics of store bought flour, the ground wheat straight from the mill, sifted wheat and the sifted hulls.

From left to right:  Store Bought Flourr, Ground Hard Red Winter Wheat, Sifted Ground Hard Red Winter Wheat

And the final product, one cup of ground and sifted hard red winter wheat (the final bag did not include the sifted hulls and the flour from the sample pics above).  As far as production rates and times, I wasnt' able to time any production since the kiddos were helping me.  However, if I had to guess, a full cup of flour could very easily be produced in a less than five minutes, maybe in even a couple of minutes.

To finish up, I just disassembled the mill, rinsed it under hot water, towel dried it, let it air dry and packed it back up.  Piece of cake! 

The kids did test out the flour and commented that the store bought flour was "yucky" but the ground hard red winter wheat was "yummy"!

Final verdict:

Did the mill perform as expected?  Yes!  While the ground wheat was slightly courser than store bought flour, it would still serve as intended.

Is the mill well made?  I was happy with the construction of the mill.  While I would have liked to have seen the milling cone as a machined piece of billet vs. machined casting, it will still work.  Will the mill last for hundreds of pounds of wheat?  Not sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if it lasted longer than that!

Is the price point of the mill consistent with its value?  I believe so!  The cost of the mill was lower than any others I had found and it seems, at least in pictures, to be comparable in construction to other costlier mills.  As far as value of the mill, it will perform just fine for what my intended purposes of it are:  shtf backup and something to tinker with.

Lastly, if you don't have one, plan to store wheat and want to eventually eat it (small scale or emergency only), the Back to Basics Grain Mill will get you what you need!
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 05:53:01 PM by firetoad »

Offline archer

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2008, 10:04:22 PM »
+1 firetoad, Thanks!!! Did you try running your ground flour thru the mill a 2nd time? Can you try white rice and let me see how that goes? My mom is on a gluten free diet and rice flour is very expensive. thanks again!

Offline firetoad

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2008, 10:11:45 PM »
Archer,

I thought about running it through a second time, but by the time that idea came around, the natives were quickly losing interest.  they did their grinding, got their taste testing in and were on to the next thing.  ;D

As far as the rice, I can try that.  You might have to give me a couple of days for that, but I will gladly test it out for you.  I can appreciate the gluten-free diet.  My doctor, due to some health issues some time back, had me run gluten-free during some testing.  That was not very easy in the least bit (and NOT cheap!).  Luckily, they took me off after a week (which research by me revealed that my "doctor's one week trial" was rather useless!).  Short answer, I can try it for you.

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2008, 10:19:26 PM »
Excellent review FireToad!  I too am interested in the gluten free topic.  Which one of y'all want to start the new thread?

Tim.


Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2008, 10:20:26 PM »
And CONGRATS on the new Mentor status my friend!

Tim.


Offline archer

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2008, 10:24:02 PM »
I thought about running it through a second time, but by the time that idea came around, the natives were quickly losing interest.  they did their grinding, got their taste testing in and were on to the next thing.  ;D

As far as the rice, I can try that.  You might have to give me a couple of days for that, but I will gladly test it out for you.  I can appreciate the gluten-free diet.  My doctor, due to some health issues some time back, had me run gluten-free during some testing.  That was not very easy in the least bit (and NOT cheap!).  Luckily, they took me off after a week (which research by me revealed that my "doctor's one week trial" was rather useless!).  Short answer, I can try it for you.
Thanks Firetoad for doing the extra testing. Gluten free not cheap or easy. We've been testing my son on gluten free and paying $5 for 5 cups of white rice flour gets expensive fast!
I'll start a thread on Gluten Free..

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2008, 11:02:05 PM »
Added to my list. Even if it does not preform to the level as the higher end ones, it is good to have backups from what I hear.

Offline firetoad

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2008, 11:27:41 PM »
Thanks Tim!  As far as the gluten-free, I posted a few of my "starter" comments to Archer's thread in Emergency Preps.

Archer, no problem, happy to help!

Offline A Pawn

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2008, 09:27:59 AM »
Very good firetoad. I see someone has given you karma for the review...+1 Here is mine for the cute kids...  :D

Offline edhand

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2008, 09:36:46 AM »
Thanks for the review.  It was very helpful -- I'll have to order one for the family.  Have you made anything with the ground flour?

Ed

Offline archer

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2008, 09:47:46 AM »
Another question firetoad, how does your home milled flour compare to whole wheat flour?

Offline 19kilo

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2008, 10:00:28 AM »
+1  Very cool demo and pics Firetoad.

I have been using a Corona style mill for almost a year now and have never thought of sifting the hulls out of the flour.

I have cooked bread with out yeast and it turns out fine. (With soup)   But muffins are what I make a lot of with the milled wheat.  Very heavy and fills us up quick. 

Bake them fat free to.

Offline firetoad

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2008, 01:01:16 PM »
Thanks everyone for the "thanks"!  I am glad it has been helpful!

Answer time...

edhand - I was planning on making some beer bread today using home ground flour but with setting up to do the rice and a few other things around the house, I ran out of time.  So, I haven't made anything with the flour I produced just yet.  And, I did make some beer bread and man is it good!  I cheated a little though and used the store bought flour.

Archer - Below are some pics of ground rice...

Note the P-51 can opener I used!

The following picture is the product of 1.5 cups of single ground, raw white rice from a sealed #10 LDS packed can.  It took me six minutes to produce this amount at a steady speed. 

I am not familiar with rice flour, so I really do not have a comparison to go by.  But, a single grind of the raw white rice yielded a little rough/gritty texture.  I passed through the grinder two more times for double and triple ground rice flour.  The first to second grind yielded a much finer product, but still not like a light flour.  The second to third grind didn't produce any finer product but it did make it a little more uniform in size throughout.

As far as the store bought, whole grain, whole wheat flour, the sifted flour from the mill looks nearly identical to the store bought.  See the pics below...

Note, from left to right:  Enriched, Bleached All Purpose Store Bought Flour - Whole Grain, Whole Wheat Store Bought Flour - Whole Grain, Whole Wheat Home Ground Flour - Oat Bran Flour
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 05:57:58 PM by firetoad »

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2008, 10:09:45 PM »
Excellent.

One more thing learned.

One more thing added to the must haves.

One more +1 given.

Well done firetoad, thanks very much.

Offline archer

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2008, 09:44:45 AM »
+1!!! Thanks firetoad! That's how rice flour looks, it's not 'floury' at all. It's coarse/gritty particles. Now I can go get one. Now you can go make beer bread!
Thanks again!

Offline edhand

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 12:08:49 PM »
+1.  Nice followup with the rice flour.

Ed

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2008, 12:23:39 PM »

I'll start a thread on Gluten Free..
[/quote]

Hey Mon...  Did you ever get the "Gluten Free" thread going?  If so, where?  Thank you very much Sir.

Tim.


Offline archer

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2008, 02:22:03 PM »
Hey Tim,
 I stuck it over on Emergency Preparedness (http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=1603.0)

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2008, 04:07:10 PM »
Hey Tim,
 I stuck it over on Emergency Preparedness (http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=1603.0)

Thank you again Sir!

Tim.

Offline Ultio1

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2009, 10:59:39 AM »
+1
A key item for long term sustainability.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2009, 09:38:51 AM »
Excellent write up.  Since I'm fairly new to prepping, I don't have a mill yet.  I've been put off by the prices of some of these mills.  But at about $60 or so, I can justify it.  If we use it a lot, we will be able to justify the price of the more expensive mills.  But if it continues working like you show, there may not be a need, then I'd probably get a backup.

+1 for putting those kids to work.  I always find it funny that they smile just fine for a couple years, then they get to be about the age of your girl and they feel they have to force a smile. 

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2009, 08:05:48 AM »
Thanks Firetoad for all the great pictures and your review. I am looking for a good manual grain mill and will certainly consider this one that you have reviewed.

**Question for forum members:**  I have also seen grinders (on ebay and other places) that offer not only a manual grain mill, but one that incorporates rollers for use in making your own rolled oats (I guess you could roll all types of grains, but especially oats). Any experience with that type of machine? The one I've been looking at is here (Marcato Grain Mill with rollers):

http://www.amazon.com/Harold-Import-Company-Inc-8308/dp/B000UV492E/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1243692027&sr=8-5

I have been grinding my own wheat for bread for quite a long time now. However, when I started it I wasn't thinking about the possibility of having no power available. I bought a simple grinding attachment that works on my Kitchenaid mixer. I will share a few things that may be of help to those who are new to homeground flour.

1. The flour does turn out to be a bit more coarse with this type of grinder. However, I believe this actually has health benefits. The coarse grind of the flour makes it a bit less easy for the body to convert to sugar and so perhaps a bit lower glycemic (for those interested in blood sugar levels). This was my original motivation for learning to do this.

2. When you grind your own flour, you must use it or freeze it very quickly. It will begin to go bad after you grind it. I have never kept mine on the shelf at all after grinding. What I don't use goes immediately into the freezer for the next time. The great thing is that, in a no-power-available situation, you can just grind what you need at the time and not have to worry about spoilage. The wheat berries keep a very long time as long as you don't grind them up.

3. Baking bread with homeground whole wheat is different than making bread with flour from the store. I have a recipe that has worked well that I'll share at the end. Whatever recipe you use, it will help you a lot to add about 1 T. vital wheat gluten (available in grocery stores near the flour) per each 3 cups of flour in your recipe. Without it, your bread will be very heavy and never rise like you would want.

4. In normal situations, you can accustom yourself to making all your own bread this way and use the convenience of a bread machine if you like. I find that I don't like the bread machine for actually baking the bread, but let it do all the kneading for me. Then, when it has finished the kneading process (through two knead cycles) I put the bread into my own greased pans and let them rise (the rising time varies, so the inflexibility of the machine makes it impractical in my opinion) and then bake in your own oven.

5. When you grind the wheat berries, you get quite a bit more flour than the measured wheat berries you put in the grinder. I forget the exact ratio, but I think I get about 1 1/3 cup of flour for each cup of wheat berries...

My Whole Wheat recipe (suitable for bread machine)

1 cup water
3 T. vegetable oil (use 4 T. if you don't add the ground flax seed)
2 or 3 T. honey (to your taste... the 3 T. is a pretty sweet taste)
1 egg
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 cups homeground whole wheat flour
1 T. vital wheat gluten
3 T. ground flax seed (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (I like kosher salt)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast (don't overdo the yeast)

In my machine, it calls for liquid ingredients to be used first. If your machine directions call for dry ingredients first, just reverse the order.
I add the ingredients in the order listed above for my machine. For the yeast, I make a small indentation forming a little well in the flour and put the yeast there.

Turn on the machine and let it run. Let it continue through to the second kneading (usually take about 1 hour for my machine). Then, take the dough out and form into either 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves. Place into greased bread pans and let rise until doubled. It will go faster if you put into an unheated oven with the light on.

Bake at 350 degrees until nicely toasted on the sides. For the two loaves (what I usually do), it takes about 25 minutes.

Offline PBRstreetgang

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2009, 10:02:38 PM »
Excellent: +1.  We've actually had one of these sitting in the basement for a while, and you just inspired me to go and get some Hard Red Winter wheat and crank it up.  Thanks.

Offline bubtech

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2009, 09:00:29 PM »
I gotta get me one of these.
B

Offline Doc Savage

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Re: Review: Back to Basics Grain Mill
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2009, 02:49:48 AM »
I have one of these and i would recommend running the wheat thru 3 times to get flour that is more the consistency that you are accustomed to.  Also be aware that this is very labor intensive.  I really didn't think that it would be any trouble the 1st time I used it, but it made me reevaluate my fitness level!