|Homemade brown rice flour (left) and millet flour (rice)|
Fortunately, gluten free grains like millet, buckwheat, rice, and corn can be purchased for locally for between 50 and 1.30 per pound, which while more expensive than wheat flour, are still significantly cheaper than those gluten free flours. For the most part, I make do just using the grains and not the flour, but sometimes flour is necessary, like when you want to make a gluten free bread, cake, crackers, cookies, pancakes, muffins, or even as a binder or thickener for other foods.
I've thought long and hard about purchasing a grain grinder so that I can make my own gluten free flours, weighing out the fact that a decent grain grinder will cost at least a hundred dollars, and cheap grain grinders are not worth the money. (I got a cheap grain grinder from the US from a company that wanted me to write a review, but it did such a terrible job that I've had a hard time bringing myself to actually write the review, as I don't know how I can write anything positive about that hunk of scrap metal. At best, when I was trying to make rice flour, it managed to break the rice grains into two pieces, in addition to spraying rice bits all over my kitchen. Do NOT make the mistake of getting a cheap grain grinder- huge waste of money, in my opinion!)
Will spending 100 dollars or more on a grain grinder (not to mention overseas shipping, because locally a grain grinder would cost even more than that!) actually pay off and be a frugal move? I've mulled about that for a while.
Now I'm glad to say that I found a decent alternative that will save us money and hopefully can save you money as well!
My husband purchased a blender/coffee grinder for me a while ago. Something like this:
It wasn't very expensive- new it was something like 15 dollars. I've discovered that I can put it to use grinding things like flax seeds, chia seeds, spices, sugar (to make powdered sugar) etc... so long as I used the coffee grinder attachment. (Not the blender! It won't work!)
Since it worked so well for that, I tried to see if I could use it to make homemade gluten free flours from the grains available here, but I wasn't so thrilled with the results. I mean, it made flour that I was able to use for various recipes, but the flours remained somewhat gritty, not a smooth, fine mix as the store bought flours are.
I'd nearly given up when I chanced upon the obvious solution.
A fine flour sifter!
I now stick my grains in the grinder for a good 3-4 minutes, then pour the flour into the sifter and sift away. All the fine flour gets sifted out, leaving me just with the gritty bits that need more grinding. This I put back in the grinder for another few minutes, and repeat as many times as necessary until there's no gritty parts remaining and all the flour went through the sifter into the waiting bowl below. (For brown rice, I needed to repeat this about 4 times, for millet about 3 times.)
The resulting flour is terrific. Smooth and silky and powdery, with a light as air texture that just makes you want to dig your hands into it! Just as smooth (if not smoother) than store bought white flour.
Homemade brown rice flour. It looks a drop clumpy, but that's just because of the humidity today. Its really silky smooth.
Here's my homemade millet flour. Also smooth as silk, with no grit whatsoever.
I've found my solution! Yay! No expensive grain grinder for me, my friends!
One caveat- this is time consuming and arduous. I can only make about one cup of grains at a time in the grinder, and I need to give it breaks to cool down. This is a money saving measure, not a time saving measure, and if you're using large quantities of flour, like if you have a really large family, you may find an expensive grain grinder to be worthwhile for you.
For me- I'll be using this method on an occasional basis, when there's something specific I want to make. Too time consuming to do on a daily basis, that's for sure.
P.S. For those wondering, chia seeds, flax seeds, and oats all grind easily with no grittiness, so using a coffee grinder just for that is easy as pie.
If you are gluten free, do you buy already ground gluten free flours, make your own in an expensive grain grinder, or just skip the flours entirely? Why do you do the method that you do?
Do you think you'd try this method? Why or why not?