Does anyone know what would happen if I were to put vegetables, meat or fresh herbs in a hand-cranked grain mill? I am considering buying one, but I was wondering what else I can use it for besides grains. I assume it would grind whatever pretty finely, but that's okay, in fact probably a good thing.
You mean it wouldn't neccesarily grind it finely? I suppose you can get different disks that grind differently.....
but if I were to put vegetables or meat through it, would it clog or would it grind them?
Grain mills aren't too hot as multi-taskers. I have a Nutrimill which makes wonderfully fine flours from dry and low oil grains and beans but you can't grind coffee or peanuts in it because the moisture and oil contents are too high and it darn sure won't grind meat or vegetables.
You can also buy grinders that will grind wet grains. The most common use for them is to grind corn, that has been soaked for a long time, into a kind of dough that you might make tortillas or tamales out of. I have one of those too and while it might
grind peanuts you wouldn't want to put meat or vegetables through it. The biggest limitation with that kind of grinder is that you just can't mill wheat, or even dried corn fine enough with them to make a usable flour.
This is going to sound smart aleky, but what you want to use to grind meat is a meat grinder. They will work, more or less, for vegetables too. I use a food grinding attachment to my stand mixer for that but I saw a hand cranked model in the grocery store last week for about $12.
Hope this helps. Good luck.