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Spice grinders

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RebeccaBG Jan 12, 2011 06:58 PM

I'm reluctant to use my coffee grinder for grinding spices. I believe that the odors of coffee and spices will influence the outcome. I am thinking of getting a grinder just for spices. Somehow can't picture grinding fennel or cumin seeds in same container as I grind my coffee. I use a portable grinder. Up to now I have never ground my own spices, but there are some that should really be ground. Do any of you use same one for both or use separate ones? Thanks for any feedback.

RebeccaBG

  1. j
    jaykayen Jan 12, 2011 07:06 PM

    I used a mortar and pestle back in the day, but now I use the mini food chopper attachment that came with my immersion blender.

    1. s
      sel Jan 12, 2011 07:10 PM

      I use an inexpensive 'blender type' coffee grinder for all of my chilis and spices. Works great and easy to maintain. Just wipe it out with a paper towel or clean cloth. If necessary, grind up some raw white rice and toss for a better cleaning.

      http://www.amazon.com/Braun-KSM2-BLK-...

      5 Replies
      1. re: sel
        r
        RebeccaBG Jan 12, 2011 07:23 PM

        Do you use it for coffee as well? Even when I wipe i out with a damp paper towel, coffee odor is there. I imagine that a very aromatic spice odor would be even harder to remove never tried the white rice technique, though.

        RebeccaBG

        1. re: RebeccaBG
          s
          sel Jan 13, 2011 07:27 AM

          NO! It is a dedicated spice grinder. I use a high quality burr grinder for coffee/espresso.

          1. re: sel
            c
            CocoTO Jan 13, 2011 01:38 PM

            That fits with my suggestion that the OP get a good burr grinder for coffee and convert the current coffee grinder for spices.

        2. re: sel
          r
          RebeccaBG Jan 12, 2011 08:15 PM

          I actually have that coffee grinder in my country house and like it very much. I have the similar Krups in my city house, which is really, really old and works well too. I was thinking of getting another Braun for coffee for the city and using my older Krups for spices, but just checked Braun's and other websites, and it seems to be discontinued. That's too bad; I preferred to the Krups for coffee.

          Rebecca

          1. re: sel
            MMRuth Jan 13, 2011 03:36 AM

            I also use white rice. And, when I'm next going to make coffee, I then grind up very small amount of beans, and throw out the ground coffee and then proceed.

          2. h
            HillJ Jan 12, 2011 07:24 PM

            I keep two electric ($20.00 simple models) grinders just for spices & dried herbs & dried vanilla bean pods (which I add to coffee ground)
            And, a burr grinder for whole coffee beans.
            I use a m&p for wet grinds (like pesto)
            I have a nutmeg mill just for grinding whole nutmeg that I use nearly every day.
            A keep a pepper mill & salt grinder on the stove
            In between spice & herb grinds I run white rice to dry clean and dust out residue.
            I think separate ones are a good idea.
            btw, I usually toast spices in a dry pan a bit before I grind, makes a positive difference.

            1. chefathome Jan 12, 2011 07:25 PM

              You're right - there are spices that really need to be bought whole and ground yourself. I buy whole spices whenever I can in small amounts, toast first and then grind. Only one spice grinder in the house as we are not coffee drinkers. My mortar and pestle is used often to grind as well; man, I love that thing. Grinding spices is SO worth it!

              1. todao Jan 12, 2011 07:25 PM

                I have a couple of these:

                http://www.amazon.com/Krups-203-42-To...

                They're inexpensive, they do a good job of grinding spices (I avoid putting whole nutmeg in it though) and I use one for coffee, one for spices.

                3 Replies
                1. re: todao
                  h
                  HillJ Jan 12, 2011 07:29 PM

                  Exactly the model I use todao. I have a black one for spices and a blue one for herbs :)

                  1. re: HillJ
                    bushwickgirl Jan 13, 2011 02:11 AM

                    As do I, black for coffee and white for spices. Krups used to carry them in red, I'd like one of those for chilies...

                    For nutmeg I have a traditional little metal nutmeg grater, with the capped storage house on the top, and a mortar and pestle, of course.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                      goodhealthgourmet Jan 15, 2011 08:03 PM

                      BG, i'm beginning to think we really do share a brain. i too have the same ones - and use the black for coffee and the white for spices. i spotted a cute lime green Bodum on sale at Sur la Table last week so i bought it out of curiosity to compare, but it's going back - i like the Krups better.

                2. t
                  tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 12, 2011 08:27 PM

                  I have a separate one for spices. After using I wipe it out with a damp paper towel and let it dry.

                  I also use it to grind small amounts of oats or sesame seeds and things like that for making crackers.

                  1. r
                    redips Jan 13, 2011 02:54 AM

                    I have to agree with many of the other posts - a second grinder is definitely necessary. I attempted to Multi-Task one and my coffee ended up tasting like coriander, lol. Alas, Blade grinder for spices, c-b grinder for coffee.

                    1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 13, 2011 05:56 AM

                      Like many people here, I also have a Krup Fast Touch Coffee Grinder for spices. I don't use it for coffee, just spices. Like you said, the odors and flavors will transfer.

                      http://www.amazon.com/Krups-203-42-To...

                      1. eight_inch_pestle Jan 13, 2011 11:46 AM

                        Used to employ a second coffee grinder, but have abandoned it in favor of a large molcajete, the stone mortar and pestle of Mexico. Always found the coffee grinder blew spices in circles as much as it ground them, and I love the degree of control over texture I have with the m&p.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eight_inch_pestle
                          b
                          bbqJohn Jan 13, 2011 05:43 PM

                          eight_inch_pestle we also have one of those volcanic rock ones passed down from my grandmother.. that's old school., mostly for decoration now.

                          Re the request. ... do you have a belnder where the bottom can be removed? If so try using a mason jar as described at this link.

                          http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/tip_...

                        2. scubadoo97 Jan 13, 2011 06:33 PM

                          Your correct Rebecca. You really don't want to use a grinder you use for coffee to grind spices. Fortunately blade grinders are really cheap so one can often afford to have one for coffee and one for spices.

                          1. kaleokahu Jan 13, 2011 08:36 PM

                            Rebecca: You might want to consider a mortar and pestle instead of the electric spicemill--less heat, more control, more versatile. Good M&Ps can be expensive in "kitchen stores" (Le Creuset's MSRP is outrageous), but I recently got a HUGE, heavy, beautiful granite set at a local Asian grocery store for $20--about the same price as the cheapie electric coffee-cutters.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: kaleokahu
                              r
                              RebeccaBG Jan 15, 2011 07:40 AM

                              Do M&Ps actually get rid of odor from last used spice even after washing, or however you clean them?

                              1. re: RebeccaBG
                                kaleokahu Jan 15, 2011 07:43 PM

                                Rebecca: To some degree it depends on the porosity of the stone/ceramic (visualize lavarock molcajete vs. polished granite). My granite M&P does not carry flavors over, even strong flavors like cardamom, after just an emptying and a wipe with a moist paper towel. Highly aromatic and oily herbs like fresh green oregano might have enough oils in them to warrant a soapy bath, but probably so would the SS grinders' bowls.

                                1. re: RebeccaBG
                                  a
                                  athanasius Jan 15, 2011 08:32 PM

                                  I agree with Kaleokahu. Shop around, and a granite mortar and pestle will cost you only a little more than a cheap coffee grinder. I find the non-porous mortar and pestle won't hold odors or flavors, unlike coffee grinders, which are usually difficult to clean out completely. No more cardamom tasting like cloves. Even when I've used one of my sets for something wetter and oily (for example, pesto or pesto-like spreads of various sorts, e.g., crushed garlic and basil or something else), a little soap and water takes out most of the flavor and odor.

                                  1. re: athanasius
                                    kaleokahu Jan 15, 2011 08:43 PM

                                    athanasius and Rebecca:

                                    This thread is a little more than dear to me because less than a year ago, I was using a second coffeegrinder for herbs and spices. More accurately, I WASN'T using it much. I took the good advice of another poster here, paulj, and got a M&P. It has made me a better cook. Really.

                                    If you do go with a M&P, I suggest that you get one large enough that you can grip the pestle, thumb up, with your whole hand, and still have it make contact with the bottom of the bowl. This will save you a HUGE amount of hand fatigue. IME the small ones sold in most vanilla kitchen stores (e.g., even LC's largest one) are too small to get decent leverage or pound. Even for small quantities, a 7-8-inch bowl diameter isn't too large.

                              2. John E. Jan 13, 2011 08:42 PM

                                There is a simple solution. You seem to already have a coffee grinder. Go buy a cheap grinder and use it only for spices. You likely won't use it anywhere near as much as your coffee grinder (I assume daily) so a cheap one will work. I bought mine for $4 at Goodwill.

                                1. paulj Jan 15, 2011 08:44 AM

                                  How much do you grind at a time? I use a blade coffee grinder for larger quantities (tablespoon or more), but mortar and pestle for the quantities that most dishes require (e.g. a half dozen pepper corns, all spice berries, tsp of fennel or cumin). And the mini food chopper for wet stuff (herbs etc), nuts, and crumbs. I have a hand burr grinder for coffee.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: paulj
                                    r
                                    RebeccaBG Jan 15, 2011 09:34 AM

                                    I don't think i'll be grinding that much, but I've decided to get a second small Krups coffee grinder, which I'll use for coffee and use my old one for spices.

                                  2. johnb Jan 15, 2011 07:18 PM

                                    The standard answer to this question is to use a small coffee grinder for spices. If you also use that type of grinder for coffee, then have two of them---never grind coffee and spices in the same grinder.

                                    That said, I recently left the plastic top for my little Braun spice (coffee) grinder too close to the stove and deformed it beyond help. So I had to go get a new one. In my small town we have limited retail resources of the culinary type, so I wound up at my local Wal-mart. They had no spice grinders, but they did have a curious mini blender thing (GE branded) that I thought might work. It was only $20 so I figured WTH. Turns out it is Wal-mart's answer to the so-called Magic Bullet, but half the price. At that point I had never heard of the Magic Bullet. It has the motor unit, two grinding heads, four large and one small jar, plus a few other parts. The small jar works fine as a spice grinder, similar to the Braun, and I get the rest of the jars as a bonus. Makes fine single-serve smoothies.

                                    This thing, like the Magic Bullet itself, absolutely does not work as well as the MB does on those TV infomercials, but it's OK for $20. So you might consider it for a solution to your spice grinding problem. Compared with the Braun it does have one advantage in that the blade/grinder head is removable and can be washed in the dishwasher--on the Braun, at least my old one, the blades were part of the motor unit and could not be washed.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: johnb
                                      onceadaylily Jan 15, 2011 08:22 PM

                                      I'll keep that rec in mind if my Braun goes kaput (going on ten years now). I use a Braun for grinding spices, and would love to be able to remove the blades to clean them. I clean the Braun with rice, never use it for coffee beans, and keep it away from the stove. ;)

                                      If I have to grind nuts, or anything likely to leave a residue, I have a very thin, and flexible, cleaning utensil that is meant for, of all things, my cat's water fountain. I can bend to get under the blades of the grinder. Similar tools (bristles on a thin wire) can be found in pet stores most often with the supplies meant for cleaning fish tanks and screens. Or in the stubborn and dehydrated cat fountain department, with the Drinkwell accessories.

                                      1. re: onceadaylily
                                        bushwickgirl Jan 16, 2011 06:58 AM

                                        Interesting that these coffee/spice grinders seem to last forever, I've had my Krups black one for many years, too many to count; unlike microwaves, toaster ovens, immersion blends, blenders in general, that all seem to bite the dust at an early age. Simpler technology, I guess, less parts to break.

                                        I have a narrow flexible bottle brush that came with a nursing bottle set for kittens/small creatures, that works very well for under and around the blade.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                          scubadoo97 Jan 16, 2011 07:13 AM

                                          grinding rice will also help remove build up from around the blade.

                                          1. re: scubadoo97
                                            bushwickgirl Jan 16, 2011 07:20 AM

                                            I'm aware of that cleaning technique option as well, thanks. I think a number of posters use the rice method.

                                          2. re: bushwickgirl
                                            onceadaylily Jan 16, 2011 07:24 AM

                                            Drip coffee makers don't fare as well as they used to, I've noticed. My mother had the same Mr Coffee for over fifteen years before she replaced it. My model, from the same company, is just two years old, and now takes well over ten minutes to brew eight cups (it used to be ready in under three). My hand-help mixer now finds itself taxed by a simple cake batter. I just know those two items are going to break in the same week. ;)

                                            1. re: onceadaylily
                                              bushwickgirl Jan 16, 2011 07:35 AM

                                              "two items are going to break in the same week. ;)"

                                              But of course! I almost fear buying small kitchen appliances these days.

                                            2. re: bushwickgirl
                                              paulj Jan 16, 2011 07:49 AM

                                              One way to break them is to grind spices that are too hard. At least I cracked the plastic cover of one that way (I don't recall the culprit). The replacement has a much deeper metal bowl.

                                              1. re: paulj
                                                bushwickgirl Jan 16, 2011 08:21 AM

                                                I can imagine that the only spice that would cause that to happen is nutmeg? I'd never had a grinding issue with any of the seeds.

                                                paulj, your hominy expertise is needed over at the " Calm me - is my posole/hominy ever going to "bloom"?" thread.

                                                1. re: paulj
                                                  h
                                                  HillJ Jan 16, 2011 08:22 AM

                                                  Or over filling the grinder. The spices or beans need room to move around the blade. I've found working in small batches helps tremendously on the life of any grinder. Cleaning the parts from time to time too. I take my nutmeg grinder apart for a good cleaning every month, have it for more than a decade now. I also learned that spices that are toasted first will grind easier.

                                          3. alanbarnes Jan 16, 2011 09:02 AM

                                            Good call not to use the same grinder for your coffee and your spices. Cardamom coffee? Sure, why not. Cumin and asafoedita - not so much.

                                            A $15 whirly-blade grinder does a pretty good job, and you can get most of the spice residue out by grinding up some white rice. That's what I used for a very long time. But a year or two ago I switched to this thing: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-SG-10...

                                            It has three major advantages over the coffee grinder. FIrst and most importantly, the work bowl is removable, so you can pop it in the dishwasher and get it completely clean. Second, it's made of stainless steel, so odors don't accumulate (the plastic of my old Krups began to smell like rancid oil after a while). Finally, it's isolated from the motor, so you can use it to make wet things like garlic-ginger paste.

                                            OTOH, it costs $40. If that's a deal killer, then definitely just pick up a coffee grinder. But if you've got a $50 amazon.com gift certificate sitting around that you don't know what to do with, I can't recommend this spice grinder highly enough.

                                            1. SamCurt May 27, 2011 10:44 PM

                                              Even after reading on Chowhound on grinding spices, I still couldn't make a decision on my needs, especially what I'm trying to make are Thai-style wet pastes.

                                              I and my wife have little problem about using mortar and pestle with dry spices, but could hardly break the (relatively) tough fiber from chile and shallots, and decided to get something electric. After surveying the market, it is clear a coffee grinder is too small for our use. I see three choices here:

                                              1. A Cuisinart Mini-prep, by brand--it's the only chopper that can grind seeds.
                                              2. A regular blender with an appropriate attachment, such as Oster's mini-jar, or
                                              3. A single-serve blending system (i.e. Magic Bullet-style, but I probably would get a better brand).

                                              Anybody have an idea on which is a better choice?

                                              1. atg106 Sep 18, 2011 04:42 AM

                                                I have a mortar and pestle, but I find certain spices such as fennel are quite time consuming to grind down.

                                                Both IKEA and TJ Maxx/Marshalls have cheap cheap pepper mills which work great for those tougher spices. I have three pepper mills: one "random ground (coarse and fine)" black pepper mill, one fine ground black pepper mill, and one fine ground white pepper mill. (I found them all on 90%+ clearance).

                                                Sometimes I will empty out the white pepper mill when I have to grind alot of fennel down for my mexican dishes; it takes about 1/10th of the time than Mortar & Pestle plus the consistency is perfect.

                                                As an aside, I use my microplane for my nutmeg. I find that works the best, and I can't see spending $ 35 on a nutmeg mill.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: atg106
                                                  h
                                                  HillJ Sep 18, 2011 06:10 AM

                                                  Is that what a nutmeg mill goes for these days? Gosh no more than 7.00 for mine and it's a strong wood and metal construction. I like it because the whole nutmeg is housed inside at all times. Microplanes are great for everything but then I need another container for the whole nutmeg, even cinnamon bark or other larger whole spice. Double duty with a mill.

                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                    paulj Sep 18, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                    I'm happy with the old fashion nutmeg grater - a semicircular grating surface, flat back, pocket in the top for the nut. Even use it for dried ginger.

                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                      h
                                                      HillJ Sep 18, 2011 08:52 AM

                                                      http://www.amazon.com/NorPro-Spice-Grinder-Nutmeg-Spices/dp/B000ST19JE/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1316361090&sr=8-11

                                                      Mine is wood & metal; this ones heavy plastic and metal...but far from $35.00

                                                      http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-Grat...

                                                      or this nutmeg grater for 10.00; microplanes can get pricey too.

                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                        z
                                                        zamorski Sep 18, 2011 10:30 AM

                                                        I had used one of the ubiquitous Krups coffee grinders for years, until it gave up the ghost. Replaced it with a Kitchenaid grinder, which has a larger capacity, a removable grinding chamber (nice to wash), and a more powerful motor. Very happy with it. Only drawback: It does less well with very small quantities (they just sort of fly around in the chamber), but I just use my mortar and pestle for those instead.

                                                        1. re: zamorski
                                                          h
                                                          HillJ Sep 18, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                          zam, nice example of a double duty gadget!

                                                        2. re: HillJ
                                                          paulj Sep 18, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                          That Microplane grater often bought together with
                                                          Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays by Fresh Baby?
                                                          What are mothers doing, seasoning their frozen milk with nutmeg??? :)

                                                  2. p
                                                    pine time Sep 18, 2011 01:38 PM

                                                    I have 2 Krups small coffee grinders, one dedicated only for whole spices. To clean it, I add a squirt of dishwashing liquid and about 1/4 of hot water and whirl away--never had any spice flavor "carry over" from it. For nutmeg, it's the microplane. Some things, however, (thinking whole cardamom pods), just get bashed with the blade of the knife.

                                                    1. paulj Sep 18, 2011 02:31 PM

                                                      Some of the harder spices cracked the plastic top of one my coffee mills. So when I found a replacement at TJMaxx I made sure it had a deep, metal lined bowl, so only a small part of the lid is exposed to flying contents.

                                                      Since I have a good marble mortar and pestle, I use this electric grinder mostly for chopping rolled oats into finer English style meal, about 1/2c at a time. It even works on oat groats.

                                                      For coffee I use one of several hand burr grinders.

                                                      And for other things (herbs, bread, nuts) I use the chopper attachment to an immersion blender.

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