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Grinding Spices


monavano
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My question is about grinding spices. How do you get your spices ground very fine? I use a coffee grinder (one specifically for spices) but find that whole seeds do not get ground to my satisfaction. I feel like I'm eating potpourri-I don't like the texture, but I want the taste.

So, for whole seeds (corriander, cumin etc.) how do you grind? Mortar and pestle? Nutmeg grinder?

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My question is about grinding spices. How do you get your spices ground very fine? I use a coffee grinder (one specifically for spices) but find that whole seeds do not get ground to my satisfaction. I feel like I'm eating potpourri-I don't like the texture, but I want the taste.

So, for whole seeds (corriander, cumin etc.) how do you grind? Mortar and pestle? Nutmeg grinder?

I use a coffee grinder, too, and I find the performance varies significantly depending on how much whole seeds I put in it. Too few, and I have the same problem you describe. But if I load it up (often more than I need for any given use, unfortunately), it does a good job of grinding them down to the fine powder I want.

Also (and this is just a hunch) I wonder if toasting the seeds prior to grinding will help? I'm thinking the moisture in untoasted seeds might prevent you from getting a good grind out of them.

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I use a coffee grinder, too, and I find the performance varies significantly depending on how much whole seeds I put in it. Too few, and I have the same problem you describe. But if I load it up (often more than I need for any given use, unfortunately), it does a good job of grinding them down to the fine powder I want.

Also (and this is just a hunch) I wonder if toasting the seeds prior to grinding will help? I'm thinking the moisture in untoasted seeds might prevent you from getting a good grind out of them.

Great points. Thanks!

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Gubeen has an electric blade-type coffee grinder reserved for spices, and uses a mortar and pestle when it's traditional for a particular cuisine, but I'm fond of using a manual Turkish coffee grinder. It's a burr grinder, so grind size can be adjusted, and being non-electric lets you immerse it for cleaning. Also commonly sold as a Greek pepper mill, except that those often don't have a removable base chamber for collecting the grinds.

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Gubeen has an electric blade-type coffee grinder reserved for spices, and uses a mortar and pestle when it's traditional for a particular cuisine, but I'm fond of using a manual Turkish coffee grinder. It's a burr grinder, so grind size can be adjusted, and being non-electric lets you immerse it for cleaning. Also commonly sold as a Greek pepper mill, except that those often don't have a removable base chamber for collecting the grinds.

My web search showed the Turkish grinder and Greek pepper mill looking almost identical (brass, almost urn like) Except for one coffee grinder that has a wood base, with what looks like a drawer that can pull out. What type do you have? (can you post a pic?)

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My web search showed the Turkish grinder and Greek pepper mill looking almost identical (brass, almost urn like) Except for one coffee grinder that has a wood base, with what looks like a drawer that can pull out. What type do you have? (can you post a pic?)

The main difference is the presence or absence of a 'cup' at the bottom for catching the grinds. If it were a rocket, we'd be talking about the first stage. A pepper mill is designed to grind directly into the food instead. This photo shows four coffee/spice mills, plus a fifth one at front-center which has been separated so you can see what I mean.

PMspice.jpg

Note the position of the two screw heads protruding from the sides of the mills (think Frankenstein's neck bolts); these are the retention screws for the stationary burr plate. If you see a photo of a mill with the screws well up the body of the mill (pic above), the plain lower portion is probably the catch cup, and it's suitable for coffee or spices. If the screws are close to the base of the mill (pic below), you're looking at a pepper mill.

These, for instance, are pepper mills.

PMpepper.jpg

These photos came from the website of this vendor. I have no experience with them; my mill came from the former Simit & Kabob, when they had a market in Fairfax. Also note that some mills may have a longer, two-piece folding arm to provide more leverage.

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I agree that a burr grinder is the way to go - one has a much greater degree of control over grind size (as opposed to a coffee grinder, where more grind time only roughly equals smaller size and where there's a lot of varioations in size (kind of like when you grind up graham crackers in a Cuisinart). Moreover, any spice with any significant amount of oils is more likely to clump in a coffee grinder than in a burr grinder.

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You can see these at the Restaurant Dino.

The main difference is the presence or absence of a 'cup' at the bottom for catching the grinds. If it were a rocket, we'd be talking about the first stage. A pepper mill is designed to grind directly into the food instead. This photo shows four coffee/spice mills, plus a fifth one at front-center which has been separated so you can see what I mean.

PMspice.jpg

Note the position of the two screw heads protruding from the sides of the mills (think Frankenstein's neck bolts); these are the retention screws for the stationary burr plate. If you see a photo of a mill with the screws well up the body of the mill (pic above), the plain lower portion is probably the catch cup, and it's suitable for coffee or spices. If the screws are close to the base of the mill (pic below), you're looking at a pepper mill.

These, for instance, are pepper mills.

PMpepper.jpg

These photos came from the website of this vendor. I have no experience with them; my mill came from the former Simit & Kabob, when they had a market in Fairfax. Also note that some mills may have a longer, two-piece folding arm to provide more leverage.

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You don’t want a dainty pederast’s grinder with a doll house handle. Consider the stark, unadorned function of a stone grain mill workhorse. The manageable home kitchen version (as opposed to the 1000kg standard for milling rice flour) doesn’t work so well on black peppercorns, cinnamon, allspice or star anise but will pulverize any other common spice into workable, uniform dust.

317014025_8a4c9f71b3.jpg?v=0

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