Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Family Grain Mill

This little German made grinder really surprised me. I expected it to have about the same performance as the Back to Basics Grinder (review impending). This is because the Family Mill's cone burrs look so much like the Back to Basic's burrs. Was I ever wrong. As far as performance goes, this is one fine little grinder. It turns easy and is really fast.

One draw back is that it grinds only a coarse flour on the first grind. If you want a half decent flour you must put this coarse flour through a second time. Over the years I've picked up several prejudices concerning grinders. One of them is that if you must put wheat through a grinder twice to get it fine enough to make bread, that the grinder is not worth having. I found that putting the coarse flour from the first grind through the Family Grain Mill a second time just wasn't a big thing. During the second pass, the handle turns almost effortlessly so the second grind is really easy. Even including the second pass in the efficiency calculation, the Family Grain Mill is the only grinder I tested that had a better efficiency ratio than the Country Living Mill, the acknowledged champ of grinders. After the second grind, the flour was close, but not quite the same fineness as flour ground through the Country Living Mill in one pass.

It took me 41 minutes to put 10 cups of wheat through the Family Grain Mill twice. As already stated, we needed that second grind to improve the flour fineness--as it grinds so coarsely during the first pass. Because it's an easy turning grinder, this would be a fine grinder for women or children.

There are several things I also don't like about the Family Grain Mill. Speaking of the physical aspects of the grinder itself, there's not that much to it. The 1.1" thick plywood base is made out of 17 layers of wood. It's expensive plywood, but a solid block of wood this size wouldn't cost the manufacturer much more. Another negative is that most parts of the mill are made from plastic, including the body.

The grinder itself is small and two of the interconnecting drive pieces are made out of light weight plastic. I have my concerns if these plastic drive pieces would stand up to long term use, especially if larger seeds such as beans or corn were ground. Of all the grinders in the test, this grinder seems to be the least rugged of the bunch and would probably break the first. (Note: The manufacturer of the Family Grain Mill does not recommend grinding popcorn)

When I buy something I like to think I've got my money's worth. Because there really isn't much, physically, to this grinder, it doesn't seem like it's worth anywhere near the $126.00 it costs. Based on performance it's worth every penny, but the durability of the mill is in question.

On the plus side, the Family Grain Mill has several attachments, one of them being a flaker mill (about $70.00 additional). The flaker can take oats or any other grain about the size of wheat or smaller and roll them. I've been told it won't roll hard wheat without soaking, as it's too hard, but I didn't have any trouble when I tried it.

I'd really like to get a few reports from people who have put a couple of tons of wheat through these things to learn if this grinder holds up under long term use. A great performing grinder isn't worth very much if it won't pass the test of time.


The Family Grain Mill internal parts. Not shown are the plastic drive from the crank which turns the plastic auger (left), which turns the rotating burr (second from right). The non-rotating burr is shown second from left and the fineness control that connects to the rotating burr is on the right. Aside from the clamp to attach the grinder to the counter top, the crank handle and the two burrs, every part of this grinder is made from plastic including two parts of the drive mechanism.

1 comment:

BobEmerson12 said...

Plywood is much stronger than solid wood, it's more resistant to moisture, and much less likely to warp. Plywood is by far the best choice for the Family Grain Mill.

We've had a Family grain mill for 3 years and grind about 4 cups of wheat a week. The auger is showing slight signs of wear but all the other plastic parts are the same as new.

I bought an extra auger for less than $9 including shipping as a backup.