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Herb Grinder

Samantha_Zistatsis's picture

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Need source for grinder that will produce "ground" cloves, allspice, etc. Discuss difference between salt, pepper, nutmeg, and "herb" grinders or mills. What does the term "crushed" mean such as crushed fennel or coriander seed - does that infer using a mortar and pestle only or can a grinder be used? Is there a difference between a spice mill and an herb mill? The purpose of all this is to convert to purchasing whole herbs and spices and perparing ground versions at home.

Samantha_Zistatsis's picture

(post #53698, reply #1 of 13)

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Hello! I would like to find an spice (or herb?) mill or grinder. I also would like a pepper mill and salt grinder. Are all of these mutually exclusive? I'm in the Seattle area.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53698, reply #2 of 13)

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I don't think that I am sticking my neck out when I say that every chef that I know uses a coffee grinder. I have 3 - one for coffee, one for black pepper and one for all other spices. Herbs don't need grinding. Crushed means crushed whether you use the bottom of a pot, a knife or a mortar and pestle. Also ,i generally use kosher or sea salt which needs no grinding.

kai_'s picture

(post #53698, reply #3 of 13)

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Interesting, Mean Chef. I use hand grinders (pepper mills) for black and other peppers, and two electric ones--one for herbs (celery seeds get the biggest workout) and one for coffee. I clean the herb one with bread crumbs. Does the pepper flavor infuse itself so it needs its own grinder? (Of course, I do not prepare food on the grand scale that a professional does.) Also, I like to mortar and pestle my salt-based seasonings, esecially if I want them uneven or large-grained and "crunchy"--not sure why that is, I just like it. (Sometimes my salt comes out as rocks from its cellar, due to the humidity.)

Quirky,
kai

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53698, reply #4 of 13)

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I just use a brush to clean the coffee grinders. Since they are metal, the flavors are not a problem as long as you brush them out before grinding something else. The grinder for pepper I referred to IS for my home. I use a separate one because I'm too lazy to clean it. I grind a grinder full of pepper then keep it in a small jar..I'm too impatient to use a pepper mill. Not enough comes out.
My secret to good food is lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

kai_'s picture

(post #53698, reply #5 of 13)

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"I just use a brush to clean the coffee grinders. Since they are metal, the flavors are
not a problem as long as you brush them out before grinding something else."

Thanks for reminding me, MC, about the brush thing. I rarely clean the grinder I use for coffee; however, now that I think of it, I bet that's a big nono due to the oils...thanks for the hint.(You would need to have separate brushes for the coffee vs. the herbs, right?)

Re cleaning those used for herbs: Maybe I need a stiffer-bristled brush, because I did try that once, and the garlic "scent" remained (ok, I was using dehydrated garlic, sorry!). I like to use bread crumbs because I can reuse them for stuffing and such.

"I'm too
impatient to use a pepper mill. Not enough comes out. My secret to good food is lots
and lots of freshly ground black pepper."

Oh, I love freshly ground black pepper, too! I got my love of pepper and all things hot or spicy from my Dad, a Southerner. I just hate it when restaurants serve pepper in a shaker that doesn't allow any to come out! (It's embarassing to unscrew the cap.) Actually, I think salt and pepper should be housed in the opposite containers--where very little salt comes out, and bigger grinds of pepper do (better yet, grinders for both). I like the trend in Thai and Vietnamese restaurants where the spices are in tiny bowls with tiny spoons--at least you aren't shaking it forever and a day. Another pet peeve is that very fine pepper that makes you sneeze (I'm amazed at the number of upscale restaurants that do this--even tho' they come around with a pepper mill); gross. And you would think that if they care enough to use large pepper flakes in the shakers, they would put it in a shaker that allowed some to be dispensed!

****** moan,

kai

kai

Samantha_Zistatsis's picture

(post #53698, reply #6 of 13)

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So, I just need to confiscate my husband's coffee grinder and I'm set? This would work for small and large spices? I've tried fennel seed in the mortar and pestle and have really worn myself out. Theoretically, you can just "crush" it, but I'm not having great luck.
So, I probably would still need more than one to keep the flavors separate. Do you just grind longer if you want a finer texture?

Rebecca's picture

(post #53698, reply #7 of 13)

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Yes, most people use two separate grinders. I've had my "spice" grinder for years (it is a $15 coffee grinder). It works for everything I've tried: whole seeds of coriander, fennel, cloves, and even fenugreek (which Penzeys does not seem to carry anymore). And, yes, just grind longer for finer texture. If you want completely & evenly powdered, grind as far as possible & then sift through a fine mesh. Forget the mortar & pestle for this stuff.
You'll thank yourself a million times over for this add'l. grinder.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53698, reply #8 of 13)

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By the way, garlic and herbs are done with a knife.

Carolina's picture

(post #53698, reply #9 of 13)

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"I'm too
impatient to use a pepper mill. Not enough comes out."

If you haven't tried a Unicorn Magnum Plus peppermill, you should. It's fast and puts out a ton of pepper.

I tried your knives; you can try my peppermill. PCD carries them.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53698, reply #10 of 13)

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One more mark for those who use a coffee grinder. I have 2 one for spices, one for coffee.

Re: Cleaning the grinder - if you like, you can take a tablespoon or two of rice (regular long grain) and buzz that around for a minute or two. Discard the rice after that (It will be broken up and a nasty color - it is unusable at this point).

Careful about trying to do FRESH herbs in a coffee grinder - they become bitter and smell like absolutely nothing but metal. A rough chop with a chef's knife is better for herbs. Also, do not do garlic in a grinder - a rule of thumb is that all ingredients you consider grinding should be relatively dry.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53698, reply #11 of 13)

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I've got a big hand crank pepper grinder that puts out tons of pepper too. I still like hand scooping out of an open container. It's so daring.

CMT's picture

(post #53698, reply #12 of 13)

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FWIW, I've cleaned my coffee grinders using around a 1/3 cup rice. Grind away and the detritus comes right off.

Sandy's picture

(post #53698, reply #13 of 13)

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I was at dinner at a friends' house, and pleasantly surprised to see that their "pepper mill" was in fact an antique coffee grinder. They would simply turn the crank a few times, and then empty the drawer on their food.

Fun for home use, on most people's scale.