Tom Henrich, volunteer miller at the historic Cedar Creek Grist Mill museum, a working hydro-powered mill near Woodland, Washington talks about what led to the demise of these mills in the early 1900’s.
As Henrich explains, modern commercial mills strip the germ and the bran from the wheat before milling the flour, and this allows the flour to be stored at room temperatures for extended periods of time without spoiling. It also means that the modern degermed flour must be enriched with vitamins and minerals to restore the nutrients that were removed as a result of this process.
As we see in the video, and the accompanying video story The Old Grist Mill Today, The Cedar Creek Grist Mill uses a stone burr mill that was typical of the time period during the late 1800’s. According to Henrich, “by the early 1900’s, most commercial mills converted to the use of steel roller mills”, and processed the grain through a series of progressively finer millings, not only to remove the germ and the bran, but also to achieve the finer pastry flours.