I own three grain mills and have been grinding grain for about four years. I often get asked about what is “the best” grain mill. There are questions every family must answer for themselves to determine the best grain mill.
- Do you want an electric, manual, or convertible mill? Will you be using it regularly now or putting it away to use only in an emergency?
- Do you need to grind a high volume of flour regularly for a big family or just enough for one or two loaves of bread?
- Do you want to be able to grind hard foods such as popcorn or oily seeds such as flax?
- How much money do you want to spend?
All of these grain mills have variable settings for course to fine flour. You should always check your grain for any small stones which will ruin any of these mills and negate the warranty.
Here are my observations of two electric mills, the Wondermill, and Nutrimill; and a convertible, the Family Grain Mill (FGM). I will also provide you with information about a good manual, the Wondermill, Jr. Deluxe. I have given you price estimates as of March 2013. Occasionally manufacturers will put their machines on sale, so it is worthwhile to keep a check on prices. Many suppliers will ship at no additional charge, so make sure you take that into account when comparing prices.
Here is a link to a comparison chart from Millers Grain House of these grain mills and some other mills. The chart can be printed and enlarged on the screen for easier viewing. Millers Grain House also sells these mills.
We ran a home test to time how quickly the mills ground 2 cups of hard white wheat mixed with mixed grains that I use for bread. All the mills were set to their finest settings. I did not include the Wonder Junior Deluxe since I do not have access to one.
Family Grain Mill–Manual 10:04
Family Grain Mill–Electric 4:42
Family Grain Mill (Convertable–electric and manual)
Our first mill was the Family Grain Mill (FGM). We had many of the same questions and requirements as many of you. The primary reason we selected the FGM was because it was a convertible mill–an electric mill with an attachment to make it a manual mill. We wanted a mill to use now to grind wheat to make all of our own bread. Being practical, I knew that an electric mill would more likely get regular use. But being a prepper, I also wanted to have a manual mill in the event we have no electricity. It was about the same price for both electric and manual as other single purpose mills.
The FGM is easy to use, put together, take apart, and clean. This mill can be dismantled to remove and clean the bur which I do occasionally. The Nutrimill and Wondermill are sealed and should never be taken apart.
The grain hopper holds 5 cups, but you can add more as it grinds. My blue mixing bowl will hold about 5 cups of ground grain. I use this bowl because the large handle/spout catches some stray flour that falls close to the base.
We also liked the optional attachments including one to roll oats, a meat grinder, and a vegetable slicer/grater. Since we store whole oats, the flaker (oat roller) gets used frequently.
This mill continues to be my primary grain mill. One reason is because, unlike the other electric mills, I can use this one to grind flax seeds if they are added to my wheat before grinding for making bread. It is a smaller mill, but holds enough grain at one time to bake two loaves of bread. Unlike the other electric mills, the FGM doesn’t have a container built in to catch the flour. I use a large mixing bowl. That is no issue for me and makes it easier to clean.
All the mills have a control to set how fine or course the flour will be. The FGM doesn’t grind flour quite as fine as the other electrics. I cannot tell the difference once the bread is baked. However, this might be a problem for people who bake a lot of pastries. I have read posts by people who run the flour through the mill for a second milling resulting in finer flour.
The FGM electric doesn’t grind flour as fast as the electric Wondermill and Nutrimill. My routine is to grind enough Prairie Gold hard white wheat, mixed grains, and flax seeds to bake two loaves of bread at a time. While the grain is grinding, I use the time to get everything else ready, measured, and put away. The timing works out perfectly for me.
The FGM can be used to grind dry beans and dent corn for cornmeal to make cornbread or hush puppies. Beans and corn are hard and will wear down the stainless steel burr resulting in the mill not grinding your wheat and other grains as finely. We bought a second burr that we use only for beans and corn. The FGM cannot grind popcorn for making cornmeal because the popcorn is harder and will ruin the burr.
The manual attachment is easy to use and attaches to a counter or table top with an included clamp. It grinds fairly easily, although it is much slower than using the electric motor. It turns without a lot of force. All of the optional attachments can be used with the manual hand crank. I am happy to have the hand crank available if I lose power, but find having the electric motor a valuable option.
Adapters are available that will allow the FGM and its attachments to be run on mixers such as Kitchenaid and Bosch.
Common price for electric base, manual base, and grain mill attachment is about $280. There are many purchasing options including just the manual base and grain mill for a little less than $150.
Wondermill Grain Mill (Electric)
The Wondermill is a very fast, easy to use grain mill. It has two basic parts–the base and an attached flour canister that can be used for storage with the snap on lid that is included.
It will not grind oily seeds, but the Wondermill has handled the grain, dent corn, and popcorn I have put through it. The grain feeds easily. The larger dent corn and garbanzo beans fit through the feed slot without getting stuck as it did in the Nutrimill.
It is noisier than the FGM, but grinds grain so quickly that it is turned on for a much shorter time. Having a flour canister requires a little more clean-up of the canister and tube. I brush it out after each use. The lid on the canister must be firmly snapped into place, or the flour blows out of the canister making a mess. Yes, I learned this from experience. One unique requirement about the Wondermill is that you MUST start the machine BEFORE adding any grain. Not doing so will damage the machine.
The canister holds about 12 cups of flour.
Common price for the Wondermill electric mill is about $260.
Nutrimill Grain Mill (Electric)
The Nutrimill is a fast, high volume grain mill. The flour canister will hold 20 cups of flour versus 12 cups for the Wondermill. For people with large families, this is a good choice.
The flour canister fits into the bottom of the machine and must be pushed in all the way or flour will blow into the room.
We bought it for a couple of reasons. We do not have a large family, but we thought it may be useful if the day comes when we may want to bake many loaves of bread or other grain products for barter, neighbors, etc. We also wanted a mill that will grind popcorn which we store. Another advantage to this mill is that it grinds fine flour. My unscientific comparison is that it is the finest flour of the three mills.
It is a large machine and loud. I dislike that larger-sized items such as dent corn and garbanzo beans don’t feed into the grinder well and block the feeder tube going into the machine from the hopper.
Like the Wondermill, it cannot be used to mill oily seeds such as flax.
Common price for the Nutrimill right now is $260.
Wonder Junior Deluxe (manual)
The Wonder Junior Deluxe is a well-made, versatile manual grain mill. It comes with both a stone bur for grinding grain as well as a steel bur for grinding oily seeds. It can crack grains or produce pastry fine flour with one pass. It can grind spices, herbs, oily grains (like flax or coffee), and makes nut butters.
I don’t own one of these, but I have seen one demonstrated and operated it. It takes some effort to turn the handle to grind grain using the stone burs, but works well. It is more difficult to turn than the manual FGM. An optional pulley attachment allows it to be powered by a bicycle. There is also a drill bit attachment that works with a drill to power the mill.
There are cheaper manual mills most of which are not well reviewed and cannot perform close to what the Wonder Junior can do. You could pay double for a manual grain mill that won’t perform any better than this one.
I would prefer to have an electric grain mill for my current day to day grinding needs, but this would be a valuable addition for anyone storing a lot of grains for use when electric power may not be available.
The price range for the Wonder Junior Deluxe is $203 to $220