Mill-Rite Grain Mill from Retsel
Been insanely busy in the garden and around the house recently. The big news here is that we ordered a Mill-Rite grain mill from Retsel and it arrived on Monday. Naturally I had to take it out for a test-drive that evening. We considered geting a grain mill after reading an article in Mother Earth News about why whole wheat is so healthy. The article piqued my interest and I began researching. In my reading I learned that wheat berries can be stored indefinitely in an air tight container,which fits well with a lifestyle aimed at increasing self-sufficiency. I also learned that once ground, wheat loses a significant percentage of its nutritional value surprisingly quickly. The more we learned, the more we felt that a grain mill made good sense for us.
After reading as many articles and reviews as I could find, I decided to get the Mill-Rite made by Retsel. It's one of the higher priced mills but it had all the features we were looking for and it consistently received excellent reviews. We wanted an electric mill that could also be operated manually. We wanted something that could grind textures from cracked corn to baking flour, and something that we could work like a dog without it overheating or breaking down. The Mill-Rite reportedly fits the bill perfectly. As you can see in the photo above, it has a generous hopper. I put 4 cups of grain in it and it was maybe 1/3 to 1/2 full, so it holds a lot. At first I put a bowl on the counter top to catch the flour but the bowl wasn't wide enough so I grabbed a 9x13 casserole dish and that works nicely.
I thought the ground flour would come out a chute or something but as you can see it comes out from between two metal plates. The burrs are inside and you can get either metal or stone burrs. It's not very loud when it operates - about the same as my stand mixer or even a bit quieter (the mixer is higher pitched so "feels" loud to me). In the reviews I read, consumers mentioned dust as a potential problem. I didn't notice any dust at all when grinding flour in this mill. Grinding temperature should also be a prime consideration, as high temperatures cause the wheat to lose nutritional value. When the flour comes out of the grinder it is warm to the touch but only slightly so.
For the first run, I ground flour. You can see it gets a pretty darn fine texture. I ran a few cupfuls of grain through the grinder and disposed of it, as recommended by the vendor. This is to get rid of any grit in the burrs left over from the manufacturing process. They clean the burrs but they still recommend running a few cups through just to be safe. I found that each cup of grain resulted in about 1 1/3 cups of flour. I ground up 4 cups of grain and made some bread. The bread has the best texture of any bread I've made to date. It rose well and quickly, and when I was kneading the dough between the risings, it seemed more springy than dough made with store-bought flour, but perhaps that was my imagination.
One final note. Retsel is a small company. Although I easily placed my order via telephone in early February and was told it would be three weeks before my mill shipped, I found them to be difficult to get hold of during mid to late March after I'd made two inquiries asking when I could expect my order. I encountered unanswered emails and telephone recordings asking to please call during normal business hours (various days, various times during their business hours). They charged my debit card the day I ordered but didn't ship the mill until two months later, after I got the BBB and Visa involved. So, I have mixed feelings about the company. They have a product that appears to be outstanding. They are friendly, knowledgable, and helpful. But the company is inconsistent in their accessibility and failed to ship as promised.
Edited 11 January 2010 to add:
This post has easily gotten the most comments of any of my posts and while some of them are educational or interesting and many of them are amusing, I'm growing tired of my blog being used as a vehicle for finger pointing and ill will. So, I've disabled further comments. It's really deteriorated to the point where comments are not helpful to blog visitors.