Solving the Hard Bean Problem with a Grain Mill, by Tunnel Rabbit

Beans are indeed, as the song goes, “a magical fruit”, yet not only because they make you toot, but because of their high protein content, and other nutrition they provide. However, along with the excellent nutritional value that comes with beans is a serious problem that plagues those who would use a large quantity of this dry staple good as a low-cost and long-term storage food. Peas and lentils–that are also legumes–do not have this same problem as do beans. It comes with age. Beans become increasing difficult to re-hydrate and cook as they age in storage, whether stored in their original plastic or heavy paper bags in the back of a closet, or in ideal conditions such as in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers in plastic buckets located in a cool, dry place.

The better the method of storage, the longer the beans might remain viable as food. As a bean lover who regularly eats beans for breakfast, beans are a significant part of my diet. Therefore this problem is of greater significance than it would be for others who would only consume beans occasionally. And this is more of a problem for those who began to create their food storage as early as Y2K, or in anticipation of the 2008/9 financial crisis, and still have a considerable quantity of beans that would be more than 10 years old. The problem is compounded as we replaced old beans by newer stocks of beans by simply adding to our larder, as these too are also aging, and will soon reach the point where the normal means of cooking them, including the use of pressure cookers, no longer work well.

Some 10-year-old beans can still be made edible with several hours of cooking in a pressure cooker. Though digestible, these beans can still be considered slightly undercooked, or uncooked, and are not pleasing to the palate. To solve this problem, I broke out my Country Living Mill, and installed the bean and corn auger. The bean and corn auger also works with wheat, so it has replaced the auger that comes with the mill that is intended for smaller size grains only, such as wheat. I now use the ‘bean and corn’ auger for everything.

Because I have been living off-grid for about 10 years, and because gasoline is still affordable, instead of a bicycle, I used a small 1.5-horespower gasoline motor with gear reduction made in the 1950s to turn the mill at less than the recommended maximum 60 RPM specified by the company that makes the mill. The gas motor can turn the mill at just above its idle speed, and therefore is efficient, and consumes little fuel. I can quickly turn five pounds of wheat into flour with no more than a 1/2 pint of fuel. and even less fuel is needed to process the same weight in corn into corn flour.

I also have a 12vdc 1/5th-horsepower electric motor that can turn the mill using power directly from PV panels with or without the aid of a linear current booster. A battery is not necessary except during the winter months, and it does not require a system gears or pulleys to reduce the RPM. The speed of the electrical motor is easily reduced via a homemade variable resistor, or potentiometer. For most people, however, setting up a direct drive bicycle frame to the garin mill’s pulley “V” is the easiest, and it is the most appropriate technology. As appealing as a motorized mill is, this is best left to those who find such projects relatively simple. My gas engine method was in operation with only 30 minutes of construction time. After a lifetime of experience, it is relatively easy it is for me to construct or improvise new things. I cannot recommend this for most people, and certainly not for children who might be operating a mill. It would be far safer if only a bicycle frame was used.

Beans can be turned into flour as well, yet it requires about twice the time and fuel, and it is not necessary. All that is necessary is about 2 to 3 passes through the grinder to break up the beans, or at the least, to remove a portion of the skin of the smallest size bean in the batch. I tried to expedite the process by cooking the cracked beans in a pressure cooker, but fragments of bean skin quickly plugged up the cooker, and causes an overpressure condition that vented. So, do not cook ‘cracked’ beans in a pressure cooker. 3 to 4 hours of simmering, or a slow boil makes a good thick bean soup, and further reduction and cooking makes a consistency that is similar to ‘refried beans’. They taste great, and are other than a very slight nutritional loss, they are no different than fresh beans.

Beans do not require refrigeration if the pot is heated once per day to a low boil and made steaming hot. As the large pot is reheated day after day for each meal, the softer the beans, and the thicker the bean broth, or bean soup. The same techniques can be used for other foods as well. For potted meat, I would use a pressure cooker just to make sure the meat reaches a high temperature. During the winter months when the wood stove is in constant use, keeping a pot with a tight lid on the stove for most of the waking hours means something is always ready to eat, and needs not to be brought in from out of doors and thawed.

If we only had beans, a little rice, wheat, and potatoes to eat, then we could survive. For those with a large stockpile of beans, that in today’s money might cost about $50 to $60 or more per bucket, the Country Living Mill is well worth its price tag, if there is a sufficient quantity of old beans that need to be ground. The price tag of $650 for a new Country Living Mill, or a capable substitute mill, could be well justified, and we would then have a mill to grind up any other grains or legumes. The price for this time-tested, versatile, and durable mill during the last 15 years has risen little since I bought mine in 2008, and it is exactly the same as the mill sold today. At the least, I would also buy the kit that provides spare parts such as the bearings, a snap ring, and spline keys. If you expect to grind more than a few tons of food, then get a spare set grinding plates. Even if we do not have more than 3 tons to grind, the food that might be available for sale during a famine might only be unprocessed grains, yet with a good mill, making flour of any kind would be very desirable. And there will be other preppers who are your friends that have many hundreds of pounds of old hard beans, or wheat that would not be edible without first processing it through a capable mill. Yes, there are other less expensive brand of grain mills. But are they as versatile and proven? If you already have a mill, would it not be a good idea to have more than one complete spare mill in case of breakage, parts loss, or theft? Of course.


I have been a hardcore prepper for the last 16 years. I sadly left my high school sweetheart where we once resided in Kalispell, Montana back in the summer of 1976. I would have married her. She was the gold standard for all subsequent females that entered my life thereafter. None met the high standard she set, nor had my affections as did she, therefore I never married. Just 6 months after returning home to Montana in 2006, after remodeling my beautiful 3-storey Amish-built log home, I finally sat down and turned on the computer. Within 30 minutes of doing so, I was reading, and continued to do so every day for the first five years without fail.

Within the first year, I was fully stocked up with three years worth of beans, bullets, and band-aids, and a bit more for my immediate family of six. After a period of about 5 years, I was struck with three major illnesses in rapid succession, including six consecutive and massive heart attacks. Shortly thereafter, I lost everything except my preparations. I have since then been living in an austere off-grid setting well below the poverty line, receiving no check from any source, and incapable of much physical labor that would provide a meaningful income.

I am now in my sixties, I have been living in a kind of extended Field Training Exercise (FTX) of the future bad times we envision. I am now tougher and better prepared than ever. Yet the Lord has proven to be faithful and provided in amazing ways, and has been preparing me mentally, physically, and spiritually for the End Times.

I say now to others, prepare now as hard and fast as you can. It is later than you think. Although one could argue that we are in a slow slide, or that we have been in a slow slide, our nation’s economy could drop off a cliff at any time. Our individual lives can change literally overnight, as fast, or faster than the fall of the dollar. Every bean, bullet, and band-aid you can scrape up now will count. Any possession that cannot be used to sustain life during the End Times should be exchanged for the necessary essentials in multiple sets, if possible. Logistics win wars, and logistics are what will keep a survivalist alive until the Lord returns to wipe this horrible evil off the face of the earth. Be here to preserve his Word, and to be a witness.