Electric grain mill: $30 - $200+
I have a very low-end grain mill (no longer available) that I purchased at the supermarket for less than $30. It is noisy, has a small capacity bowl, and blows flour around. But it works just fine for me! I grind my flour in the garage on top of the dryer and clean up the loose flour every few months. I used to grind around 15 cups at once, and never had any trouble with it going rancid before I used it all up within a few weeks. I have heard that whole wheat loses 90% of nutritional value within 24 hours of grinding. This is the kind of claim you can find all over the Internet, but I've never seen any hard data or reputable source that backs up the claim. All food loses nutritional value over time, but I'm guessing my 2-week old flour is still fresher than store-bought. Benefits of grinding your own wheat include:
- you will have very fresh flour
- you can buy wheat berries, which have a shelf-life of 30+ years, in bulk. I go through 25 pounds of wheat berries in about 3 months
- you can grind other stuff into flour too, like rice, millet, barley (I grind rice, millet and barley to make infant cereal)
Bread machine: $50-$200 new, $10+ on Craig’s List
Currently I own this low-end machine which I got for $10 brand new off of Craig's List. I would love to own this bread machine, which is very highly rated by Consumer Search. Someday. I am watching for it on Craig's List. Or maybe eventually I'll figure out that whole artisan-bread-in-5-minutes business and make all my bread in the oven.
Good bread knife
If you are going to make all of your own bread, including bread for sandwiches, you will want to have a very good bread knife. I love my Victorinox Wavy Bread Knife, top rated by Cook's Illustrated and not too expensive.
Bread slicing guide
My sister has one of these. With a good bread knife, I personally find it unnecessary.
Container or bag for bread
We use a Tupperware case intended for CDs. I find it easier to take the lid on and off the CD case than to deal with a plastic bag and twist tie.
Food Scale: $10 - $15
I bought a cheap one at IKEA. It's more accurate to weigh rather than measure (with a cup) flour. Home-grinding also tends to produce less finely ground flour than store-bought flour. I also just find weighing flour easier than scooping and leveling it. It's pretty easy (and consistent) to measure wheat berries, however, if you are grinding berries for each loaf of bread.
What are your favorite bread accessories?
Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread