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My New Wheat Grinder: Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill Review

>31 January 2010
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I’m finally ready to tell you all about my first wheat grinder. I was waiting until I’d had a chance to grind my first batch of wheat so that I could share all the nitty gritty with those of you who are like me, and have no clue about this stuff!

After reading tons of reviews, and going over the pros and cons of a dozen different models, we finally settled on the The Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill. Though it was quite pricey, at $220, it was by far the best rated and most recommended hand mill. Although I would have loved to have gotten an electric mill, the whole point in even getting grain and a mill is first and foremost to be prepared in case of an emergency, which could include loss of power. A non-electric hand mill was the practical choice. Eventually, I’d love to have an electric mill for everyday use, since home ground wheat is so much better for you than store bought, not to mention easier on the old wallet! But for now, it’s old school for us!

I ordered from USA Emergency Supply. Prices were pretty consistent most places, but this site offered free shipping. Here is how it came:

wheat grinder 001 (Medium)

Pretty much completely assembled. Only the base and the burrs needed to be screwed on. Very simple.

wheat grinder 002 (Medium)

Here it is all put together. We had to mount it in the bathroom for now, cause it wouldn’t fit onto my kitchen counters. I need Jerry to build a base for me to mount it onto so that I can use it in the kitchen. But this works.

For those of you who are wondering, the burrs are those round gray stone things on the bowl side of the grinder. This grinder came with two sets of burrs: stone and steel. I chose to use the stone burrs for grinding the wheat as they give a finer grind. Steel burrs are better for grinding seeds, coffee beans, and making butters, like peanut butter.

So, I wanted to test how long it would take to grind one cup of wheat berries, and how much flour I would get from it. I measured out one cup of wheat:

wheat grinder 007 (Medium)

And poured it into the grinder:

wheat grinder 008 (Medium)

You’ll need to place a bowl underneath the burrs to catch the falling flour. It took a little adjusting to get the grinding fine enough. I found it worked best when, after grinding just a little bit, I tightened the burrs as tight as they would go, and then loosened them one notch.

The grinding wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. It wasn’t hard, just tiring. Yes people, I broke a little sweat. At least I got my workout for the week! It took me 10 min. without much pause to grind one cup of wheat.

wheat grinder 012 (Medium)

And here’s the flour I made! It was a little bit course. It could be used like this, it would just make a denser bread. Sifting it would help remove the bigger pieces and yield a softer loaf.

I made the mistake of removing the burrs over the bowl, thinking that I could get some of the remaining flour out of the mill. Yeah, don’t do that. What was still left in between the burrs was not ground well, so it dumped a bunch of whole pieces into my nicely ground four. I scooped it out and put it back into the mill to re-grind it. Yeah, don’t do that either. The majority of what I’d just put back into the mill was too fine to grind, so it wouldn’t spit anything back out. I had to unscrew the whole contraption and dump it all back into my bowl. I swear, if there’s a way to mess something up, I’m your girl!

wheat grinder 016 (Medium)

Anyways, after sifting out the big pieces, one cup of wheat berries made about 1 1/4 cups of flour. Pretty cool!

My next task is to bake something with this freshly ground flour. Here are some recipes I found that I’d like to try. If you remember from my post on storing wheat berries, what we got is soft white winter wheat, also called pastry wheat. It’s good for baking pastries, biscuits, pancakes, and quick breads.

I also came across this yummy looking whole wheat bread recipe by Gina. Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to try it whenever I’m able to get some hard white wheat.

Would you like to cook using whole wheat berries, but can’t afford to buy a mill yet? Here is a method for doing just that using an inexpensive blender. Looks like a great way to begin using whole grains in your diet!

So, now I have a few questions for the more experienced…

Does anyone know how long freshly ground flour will stay good? I’ve read that it needs to be used within the first 24 hours, and stored in the fridge.

Since soft white wheat is cheaper for me than hard wheat, does anyone know a good ratio for mixing soft and hard wheat to get a good loaf, using the most soft wheat possible?? I’d love to know if anyone has experimented with this.

Well, there you go! My very first attempt at using a mill and grinding wheat. Pretty satisfying, if I do say so myself.

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21 Comments »

  • Pam W. said:

    Most things I’ve read about freshly ground wheat flour say that you should refrigerate it once it’s ground, then use it within a week. If you need to keep it longer, you should put in the freezer. I’ve been using mine within a week, refrigerated, and it’s been fine. Basically, the sooner you use it, the better, because it starts to slowly decline in quality of flavor and vitamins soon after grinding. If you have the Encyclopedia of Country Living, in my edition, at the top right of page 161, there’s a couple of paragraphs on “Storing Home-Ground Flour.” I’ve been trying go through that book, page by page, lately–not necessarily reading everything, but just to familiarize myself with what all she covers in there, for when I may need to reference it in the future, and I’m just amazed at the wealth of information on so many topics that she has included.

  • Lori F. said:

    Congrats on your purchase of a grain mill! I have an electric Wonder Mill which I love. I have had my mill for about 7 years and have used the flour for everything from bread and sweet rolls to biscuits, muffins and pancakes. The ratio I have learned as an all-purpose mix that works for anything is 3 parts hard white wheat to 2 parts soft winter wheat. I’m not fussy enough to grind all soft wheat for special pastry flour. However, I understand in your situation that you haven’t bought any hard wheat yet. Wait until you taste that first loaf of bread made with freshly ground flour. You will not believe how sweet it tastes. I also use a small amount of King Arthur bread flour with my milled whole wheat to produce a more uniform and lighter loaf.

    As for storing ground wheat, when I have any leftover I store it in a canning jar with a tight-fitting lid in the freezer and usually use it within 7-10 days. When grinding (usually once a week) I grind more than I need to bake a loaf of bread so that I have extra stored for the last minute biscuits or muffins I decide to bake.

  • Jessica said:

    I am considering getting this mill and I bake once or twice a week. I also have a newborn, so not a ton of spare time. Is this something you would recommend or do you wish you had gone electric?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jessica-

    If you are wanting something for everyday wheat grinding, and not necessarily as an emergency preparedness item, I’d suggest an electric mill. Our goal is self sufficiency, so we’re going non-electric. But an electric mill would be SOOO much nicer!! I definitely plan on getting one whenever we have the extra money.

  • Gina said:

    Kendra -
    Best wishes on your new grinder! I love my electric grinder but have often thought a hand grinder would be nice for exactly your reasons!

    Thanks for linking to my bread recipe. I hope it works well for you. Let me know if I can help!

    I don’t usually take the time to comment but I have really enjoyed your blog the past year. I enjoy watching you do and learn new things! Thanks for taking the time to share the adventure with us!
    Blessings, Gina

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Gina,

    I had no idea you followed my blog! I’m so glad you let me know :) Now I know who to ask my wheat grinding questions!

  • Amy @ River Rock Cottage said:

    What is it about a grain mill that makes my heart go pitter patter? I bought my first mill before the 200 Y2K thing. For some silly reason, I think I gave it away after I bought an electric mill. (I think I got over confident in our economic situation and was on a cleaning spree. At least I think I gave it to a sweet newly wed that really could use it. Now I need to buy another non-electric mill!). Anyway, for daily use, start saving for an electric mill UNLESS you have kids who need a work out!

    I usually grind my flour in batches – and several types in one session. I store the ground flour in large containers in my freezer. It is about 12 – 14 cups worth in each. Because freshly ground flour with the germ, endosperm, and bran all in the final product, it starts to go rancid after 3 days. Freezing it slows the process down tremendously. It also makes it realistic to use ONLY your own flour on a regular basis. I just pull it out of the freezer and get what I need. All the unground flour is still in buckets with gamma seals. I have 3 posts so far on this under “bread baking” on my blog if you wish to read more.

    If you are using a more course flour, you might consider learning to make rustic artisan bread from it. These breads often use very few ingredients which would also be helpful during a crisis.

    Enjoy your new mill!

  • Caroline said:

    I have been grinding wheat for 15 years I guess, (boy does that make me sound old!) with a Vitamix I bought especially for that purpose. The thing I like about it is that it keeps all the flour in the container, unlike most other grinders which end up dusting up the air and getting flour all over the house. Friends of ours grind outside to avoid the mess. For us that was a good thing, as later we found out one of the children is allergic to wheat.
    It grinds 2c of wheat berries in 60-90 seconds. (Or rice, corn or other grains as well.) I would keep the extra in the freezer, but I try to only grind what I am going to use right away. Wheat berries keep pretty much indefinitely, unlike the ground flour.
    I have read an advantage to fresh ground wheat is that it is more nutritious, but I believe heat (as in baking) destroys many of the vitamins associated with the “fresh” part, which sort of nulls it as particularly more nutritious than store bought. Just a thought…

    You might try making some noodles with the flour, especially in tomato based dishes.

  • Nancy M. said:

    How cool to see how that worked!

  • Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home said:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been looking into getting a hand mill. I inherited an electric one from my Mother, but I don’t know how much longer it will run…it’s pretty old. I wanted to get a hand mill as it’s replacement, so we wouldn’t be dependent on the power being on.

  • Jennifer said:

    thanks for the nitty gritty details. I need to see things like that. I have been contemplating trying to grind my own, but a grinder is expensive and I haven’t mentioned it to my husband yet. He might be for it, so I really should. How deep does the counter need to be for the grinder to attach?

  • DramaMama said:

    I stumbled onto a website that might help you…it’s called Heavenly Homemakers. There are a lot of recipes for things made w/freshly ground flour and I immediately thought of you =)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    DramaMama-

    Thanks! That was sweet of you to think of sharing that with me. I’ll check it out!!

  • Ann said:

    I have a retsel mill, it is electric and I also have the optional hand crank handle. so I have the best of both worlds. I have the milrite model and bought it off ebay, have seen them on craigslist occasionally. It is worth it new though. My 9 year old daughter grinds our wheat. It grinds slow, and doesn’t heat up the flour. look at it at http://www.retsel.com It is also USA made for over 40 years and parts are available. Pretty neat! I am getting ready to learn how to grind corn on it to make home made corn meal/corn bread.

  • Diana Tyree said:

    Hi I’ve been enjoying your website, and since I’ve ground my flour for over 20 years I thought to comment too. I really think just starting out, an electric mill would be the way to go. I have a whispermill (which is now the wondermill) and would get another in a second. I have thought about getting a hand mill in case of emergency but I think the time to grind would keep some people from sticking with it.You can motorize some of the hand cranks but they would still not be as fast as the wondermill. I have two friends who have hand mills and prefer to use my mill. If you go to the breadbeckers website you can order their free cd called “the bread of idleness” which tells you all the benefits of milling your own grains, they also have very informative articles. I don’t know where everyone lives but for some of you ordering grains and other healthy foods somethingbetternatural.com is the least expensive coop I’ve found to order from. They are in Michigan and deliver to Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, W. Virginia, Kentucky, N.Carolina. Their sister company which is clnf.org delivers to S. Michigan, Upper peninsula, Wisconsin, NW. Indiana, N. Illinois, Minneapolis/Duluth areas, Missouri, Oklahoma, NW. Arkansas. What you do is place a 400.00- 450.00 order depending on which place you order from, and pay a 10% fuel surcharge. Each place has an order and delivery schedule usually monthly, but you can order whenever you want. I order with some friends twice a year. I meet the truck at the parking lot of a holiday inn on their route to other stores, fill up my truck or car, take it home and they trust me to check everything when I get home and let them know if there is a problem. I have done this for years and am very pleased.I think that the milling of the grains is such a neat thing and I would encourage anyone to do it. It is a discipline, but once you establish a routine it becomes second hand. You will have flops but we all do. One thing I’ve found with the fresh grains is that because you freshly mill, the flour is light and airy and you may have to add more flour for some things. Let the the dough or batter soak for at least 15-30 minutes and do a test cookie before cooking a whole dozen to see if the flour amount is right, it is definitely a different character than white four and I am still learning after all this time, and saying this based on my experiences. I hope that helps someone If anyone has questions I would be glad to try and help you, I also have some really good recipes I would share. Also after many years of hand mixing, which I would do again if I had to, I now have an electrolux dlx mixer that I do 4 loaves at a time in, and I really like that too. My e-mail is ktyree@thewavz.com Diana

  • LeAnna said:

    Hi Kendra,

    I have become very interested in learning to be more self-sufficient, and have really enjoyed your blog! I too came from Southern California and now have settled in the midwest. My husband has chosen to go into the ministry, so he is going back to school. I don’t see us settling in one place for too long, so I wondered if you could give me any advice on a good place to start for a moving mom. I would like to start grinding my own wheat, but don’t know how to start. I too, think I would like a hand mill to start with. But, I feel a bit overwhelmed by how much wheat to buy, what kind, and how to store. What would you recommend for me?

  • Faith said:

    That looks great! I have been looking at getting a grain mill for some time. I like the Country Living Grain Mill but have not wanted to spend that much,$395 at .

    It is tough to tell from the photos how fine the flour is. Would you recommended sending it through the grinder more than once or was that enough?

    Great blog and thanks for the info!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Faith,

    To answer your question, one time through the grinder was enough for me. It depends on how tightly you’ve adjusted the burrs, but if you can get them good and tight, the flour will be perfect the first time around :)

  • Catherine said:

    Hi Kendra:
    Thanks for publishing your experiences with grain grinding. I have wanted to do this for quite some time but also found the electric grinders pretty breath-taking, price wise. Am interested in the machines that are either electric or hand-driven, which would answer both disciplines.

    Thanks for the kind folks who posted their experiences with grinding flours! One of these days I will really begin — honest! :-) Catherine

  • Cris said:

    Okay as you can tell I just found your blog and am reading everything :)

    How do you like your mill now that its been a few months? Do you use it weekly?

    I got your mill about 2 months ago and can’t wait to bake everything with fresh wheat but when grinding a weeks worth of whear takes me an hour—YIKES!! I am hoping to get the electric for my birthday next year to do a bunch with and if I need more that week use the hand grinder. I am planing on attempting my first batch of whole wheat in my solar oven this week(its the one thing about living off grid in Az I hate—no ac or anything to cool my house down)

    Love your site!!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Cris!

    Yes, I do love the hand mill I have, but if you keep reading you’ll find that I eventually got an electric mill- which was truly a gift from heaven! Hand grinding takes FOREVER. It’s important to have on hand for emergencies when there is no electricity, but for everyday use an electric mill is a God-send!

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