Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Multi-Purpose Mill

It has been a little under three months since we unpacked the GrainMaker mill, and it has not has not ceased to please, or even to dazzle us with its many talents.
Yesterday was a particularly fine one for the GM's facets to shed their ever-multiplying vermilion beams upon my admiring and upturned visage... Ok, I'm overdoing it a little, but read on and see that there is reason to seem so pleased.

The first of two experiences I had was with our 2010 flax crop (flowering flax pictured at right, dried flax plants below left). In its processing I got as far as combing the seed bolls from the top of the plant and bundling the stems together for later fiber-separating. But for the past six months we've had a big rubbermaid bin of the loose bolls rolling around, waiting for me to figure out how best to crush them into seed and chaff. Yesterday I got out one of our sieves, put a handful of bolls in it, and ground them with my thumb, which worked great. For a small amount. But it would have taken me an hour or more just to crush them all, and then I would still have to clean the chaff away.

This is where the GrainMaker came in. I thought perhaps if I loosened the burrs to the point where there was a significant distance between them (enough that the seed itself wouldn't be crushed) I could do the work much faster. I put in the auger that cracks bigger seeds, threw a big handful of the bolls in, and cranked. It worked great! With a little adjustment, and 5 minutes of time, I then translated the whole ~6 cups worth of bolls, extra plant pieces and all, into seed and chaff.

With a little more work to winnow and separate I'll be finished with them! Just in time to flat this year's crop, which was really the incentive to finally get that task done.

The second experience was in grinding peanut butter. I had done this with other mills, and had indeed done it once or twice with the GM, always resulting in an ultra creamy variety. I've never really liked creamy peanut butter, and the only thing that made it acceptable is that I had ground it myself. The long and short of it is that yesterday, inspired by how well the flax bolls did with the burrs separated by as much as an eighth of an inch, I ran the peanuts through. I was rewarded with a fabulous chunky PB, and just in time to spread it on the waffles we were making.

Now I admit that, while hulling flax may be a rare occurrence in the world of grain grinders, making peanut butter is certainly not. It's just that I had never done it to my satisfaction before, and now I do feel quite satisfied, I assure you.

So there you have it, yet a little more shameless praise for the GrainMaker.



  1. Great article (as was the other on the GM). I'm currently fighting the CLGM vs GM debate right now and I think you're winning me over. May I ask which model you purchased?

    Thanks again!

  2. Yeah - we bought the equivalent of No.99, but it is the older version, with a 4 cup hopper and a 10" pulley. It could be that there are some other modifications, too...
    I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it.

  3. Thanks Dan. Unfortunately they've raised their prices and removed the one you have. Now it's either a 3 cup hopper for 375, or a 6 cup hopper for 675! Shame really, if I'm going to spend the money I want to get something good, and I never like the idea of "stepping back" as it were (as the case would be with that 3 cup hopper with likely weaker components) but $675... The CLGM is about $430, some accessories and such added it'd still come in under $500. If prices had been the same when you bought, would you have bought at all or stuck with your CLGM?

  4. We had used a CLGM for two years back in CA, but it wasn't ours - we were starting from scratch. Since I hadn't tried a GM we were kind of going out on a limb, since (back then) it was a little more expensive than the CLGM. Without knowing the GM well, I probably would have not gone to the extra expense of the new model, and would have bought a CLGM. As always, it comes down to a question how much is too much. That said, I think the old price was an amazing deal, and the new price is much closer to the what the tool is worth.
    I had very few issues with the CLGM, so if I already owned one of them I probably wouldn't have "upgraded" to the GM. But knowing what I know now I would spring the extra for the GM, because I don't think this mill will ever disappoint me.
    I don't know if it's practical for you, but it would be a great idea if you could try them both. I went on the advice of a friend who documented her experience (you probably read her account at Homeplace Earth), but if I'd tried it I would have been sold.