Stone milling is rare these days, but that is the way we do it at McEwen & Sons. This old-fashioned milling method grinds the corn between two large rotating stones. While gristmills in the past were powered by water, a few of which are operational today, our stone-burr gristmill is operated by electricity. The stones crush and grind the whole grains slowly, progressively, and at low temperatures without destroying valuable nutrients of the grains in the process.
In contrast, most commercial flour and corn milling today is performed by high speed, big volume steel cylinders or hammer mills. Cylinder mills grind grains between rigid cylinders that rotate at high-speed to grind and tear the kernels instantly; hammer mills smash whole grains at ultra-high speed. In both of these modern grinding processes, a great deal of heat is generated. At these high temperatures, most of the healthful live enzymes in the meal and flour are eliminated and many valuable nutrients are destroyed.
With stone burr milling, unlike modern roller milling and hammer milling, nothing is separated or added to the natural grain. The germ, oil, and bran remain intact, along with natural freshness, flavor, aroma, and nutrients. In fact, the germ contains large amounts of vitamins A, D, B-complex, and E. The germ in corn, wheat, and other whole grains is a live product which can become rancid if stored at room temperature--that's why stone-ground whole grains should be either refrigerated or frozen. The knowledge that you are feeding your family wholesome natural foods when you cook with nutritious whole grains is certainly rewarding. Be prepared when your family asks for seconds at the table!
The milling of grains into flour and meal is among the most-influential factors in creating nutritionally-superior bread and flour products. Most millers agree that the highest-quality flours are made by slow, cool grinding with stone mills. Expert stone milling requires both experience and artistry. The miller must ensure that the temperature, fineness of grind, sifting, and mixing of flours are all optimal to deliver the most nutritious flour and meal possible.