In April, 1999 I became the proud owner of a Country Living Grain Mill. It was a big purchase for our family, but I had been using a Corona mill occasionally for about ten years and had decided it was time to get serious about having fresh ground flour. The Corona was good for cornmeal, but not so good for whole wheat flour for bread. The effort it took was not something anyone in our family wanted to endure on a regular basis. I scoured the internet looking for information about all the choices out there. I wanted to save money, but I didn’t want to buy anything that would end up being too troublesome to use. I finally decided to go with the Country Living Mill and have never regretted that decision. It’s the white one in the picture. In September, 2010 I had an opportunity to try a GrainMaker mill when the folks who make it were at the Mother Earth News Fair in Somerset, PA. I really liked it and thought it seemed easier to use than the Country Living Mill. I was in a position to buy it and, since part of my mission is to help others along this path, I thought it would be great to compare the two and share my experiences. Long story short, the GrainMaker mill is now my favorite.
The GrainMaker was ready to use out-of-the-box except for attaching the handle. It even came with five pounds of wheat berries! I was right, it was easier to turn than the Country Living Mill, but then I realized that I didn’t have the extension handle on the Country Living. Once I put that on, the handles were about the same length and the effort to use them was about the same. What really made the difference is the amount of flour generated with the same effort. The GrainMaker produced TWICE as much flour as the Country Living Mill with the same number of revolutions! In 300 revolutions I have gotten about 1 c.3T. flour with the Country Living Mill and 2c.6T. with the GrainMaker. The amount of flour in the jars is what I got from one 300 revolution trial for each mill. What is in the breadpans catching the flour is from another 300 revolutions. You can see from the pattern of the flour in the pans that the Country Living Mill drops flour mostly from the sides of the grinding plates, but the GrainMaker Mill also drops a significant amount in the middle. The pattern on the grinding plates of the GrainMaker is rather different, which might account for that. Another big plus with the GrainMaker is that the corn/bean auger sits on a spindle on the mill and is super easy to exchange with the grain auger. There is more involved with changing out the augers with the Country Living Mill and I have to remember where I put the extra auger and other small pieces needed. If I could change one thing about the GrainMaker, it would be to have a longer wooden handle, such as the one on the Country Living Mill.
The GrainMaker is now attached to my kitchen counter and the Country Living Mill will eventually go to one of our grown children, when they are ready for it. For another testimonial from someone who has used both mills, check out Dan and Margo’s Circle of the Sun blog for January 27 and April 6. I have mounted each of my mills to a piece of 3/4 ” plywood with lag screws. I use C-clamps to hold the plywood to the counter. We removed the lower cabinet door and I made curtains for that opening with slits that allow the clamps to go under the counter. Knowing that many people might not have counter space for a mill, I wondered how it would do on a small cart. I have one in the kitchen that holds the many jars that seem to be always around. I attached the GrainMaker to it to see how it would work, anticipating I would need to move the jars and maybe add some weight, but it worked so smoothly, the jars stayed put, including all the ones in the bottom of that cart. Since it had wheels, it did move a bit when I was grinding, but once I rolled it over onto the rug, the problem was solved. If your kitchen currently has no space for a mill, you might want to consider buying or making a cart that can be pushed out of the way when not in use. You could store your grains, dehydrator, or whatever you want on the rest of the cart. Locking wheels would be good, or roll it to a rug to use.
There has been a price increase and some design changes since I bought my GrainMaker, but knowing what I know about both mills, I would still choose the GrainMaker over the Country Living Mill. Twice the flour for the same work is a HUGE difference and I’m not getting any younger. Not everyone can buy the mill of their dreams right now. Remember, I started out with the Corona so many years ago and I still have use for it now and then. Start somewhere and work from there. If a mill doesn’t grind fine flour, it can surely make cornmeal or crack wheat berries and rice for hot cereal. In her book The Resilient Gardener, Carol Deppe prefers using her Corona mill to grind corn to make polenta. Do any of you have thoughts on grain mills that you would like to share?