Grinding corn into cornmeal is a hobby for me, but it's one that I take very seriously. It's hard work, but it's a lot of fun. I usually crank up my mill about once a month and grind 50 pounds of corn. The majority of the cornmeal I sell at our local farmer's market which I've committed to go to one Saturday a month.

It's very important that the mill be kept as clean as possible to discourage bugs. I always clean the exterior of my mill after each grinding. I also force compressed air into the mill to blow out as much residual meal as possible. During the winter months bugs are not much of a problem. But that's not the case during the summer months. During the summer months I try to break down the mill after each use to clean out all of the residual cornmeal that remains behind. This discourages bugs from setting up housekeeping. In either case, I always grind about 20 pounds of throw away corn before I actually grind the good stuff. This will rid the mill of any unwanted house guests.

Here is a picture of my 16" Sprout-Waldron that I use to grind my cornmeal. The mill is powered by a two-cylinder John Deere LUC power unit.

I only use the best food grade corn available in this area. It makes some of the best tasting cornmeal I've ever tasted. I get my corn from a small Mexican tortilla manufacturer in a town close to me. The corn is always clean and can be ground right out of the bag. I always keep a hundred or so pounds on hand in my freezer so I will have it when I need it. Food grade corn costs a little more, but it sure makes a difference in the taste.

Here is a picture of the hopper full of corn.

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account when grinding corn. One, you must have the stones turning at the proper speed as recommended, in my case, about 700 RPM. Too slow a speed will result in slow and minimal output. Too fast a speed can result in the stones and meal getting hot, and that's not good. Two, you must have the stones adjusted properly to determine how fine or how coarse your cornmeal will be. I like to grind my cornmeal fairly fine. The closer the stones are together, the finer the meal will be. You never want the stones to touch. If they do, the stones could be damaged. You will immediately notice a burnt smell if the stones get too close. Keeping your "nose to the grindstone" will let you know immediately if the stones are too close. The smell is unmistakable. Thirdly, you must have the rate of feed to the mill adjusted properly. The picture to the right shows the whole corn coming out of the hopper down the shoe into the stones. With a little experience you can get this rate just right. Too slow and you don't get much meal out. Too fast and the mill and engine will bog down.

Here is a picture of the cornmeal coming out of the spout. It is automatically sifted into a catch pan for later bagging.

Here is a picture of our high tech bagging system, actually my wife. The cornmeal is manually transferred from the catch pan into another pan where it is scooped up by hand into Ziploc bags. Each bag is individually weighed before sealing to insure that it contains 24 ounces of cornmeal. Each bag is labeled as required by the local farmer's market.

Other than the bagging and filling of the hopper occasionally, most everything else is automatic. I keep a very close eye on all of the mechanical goings on while the corn is being ground. Here I am sampling the cornmeal to insure that it is nice and cool. Too much heat will spoil the flavor of whole grain cornmeal.

Here is a picture of the finished product, 24 ounces of all natural, whole grain, stone ground cornmeal.

Freshly ground cornmeal goes directly into the freezer and will stay there until it is ready to sell. Here is a freezer full waiting for the next farmer's market.

And here we are at the Farmer's Market

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