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Jul 14, 2014 04:45 PM

What is the difference between a mill and a grinder?

Hello guys. I would just like to know what is the difference between a food mill and a grinder? Are there any differences in the both of them or are they the same?

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  1. A mill works like a sieve, pressing liquid and soft solids through it but keeping the solids behind. E.g.: if you use a food mill for applesauce, all you need to do is slice or quarter the fruit. The mill will retain the stem, seeds, and peel. If you don't have a mill, pressing food through a sieve or colander will accomplish the same thing, but take a lot more time and elbow grease. Turning the crank on a food mill is more efficient.

    A grinder will pulverize both hard and soft bits. It is generally not used on liquidy ingredients. Grinders can be manual, or electric appliances. A blender or a food processor can be used to grind some foods. Meat grinders can be manual or powered.

    To make things confusing, grain is *ground* in a *mill*. In that instance, the weight and friction of two heavy flat stones pulverizes the grain.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      So that makes a pepper grinder and a pepper mill different? Because I was looking to buy one on amazon and both pepper mill and pepper grinder are in the same category.

    2. They are different. A food mills has a little bit of grinding, but the idea is really more about "pressing" and "squeezing". You force the food through the sieves/holes.

      A grinder is often about cutting everything into small bits, even into powder. For example, this is a highly recommended grinder for spices. You would not call this a food mill:


      12 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        How about pepper mill and pepper grinder? They're both in the same category on amazon.

        1. re: suzannaabdul

          You phrased your question inaccurately. You said 'food mill' when you meant pepper mill. I have always used peppermill and pepper or spice grinder interchangably, assuming you are referring to the manually operated devices that grind peppercorns into various sizes of ground peppeer.

          I happen to own several different brands and types of pepper mills/grinders. What kind are you interested in?

          1. re: John E.

            Sorry for phrasing my question incorrectly. My bad. So they both are the same?

            I'm planning to buy this:

            Do you happen to own it?

              1. re: suzannaabdul

                I don't own this one, but I have read good things about it. Like greygarious said, you may able to find posts of people who own it.

                I had a Vic Firth pepper mill, and I like it.


                1. re: suzannaabdul

                  I've owned the 6" Magnum for about 15 years, so can say that it is quite durable. It's best feature is the speed at which it turns out ground pepper. It also holds a decent amount of pepper, which means filling less often.

                  Loading it is a bit of a hassle. A continuous pour is not at all practical. I have to add some peppercorns (either by using a funnel or cupping my hand into a funnel shape), turn it upright and shake them down, then lay it on it's side again, fill some more, etc... escapee peppercorns are an ever-present possibility.

                  If I were buying today, I would likely buy the Cole and Mason below or a Peugeot. Still, I'm pretty much satisfied with my Magnum. My biggest complaint is the filling hassle, which the 9" you're considering would mitigate somewhat.


              2. re: suzannaabdul

                I see. Nice question. I do think sometime these terms may get interchanged a bit. In the case of pepper mill vs pepper grinder, then they are the same thing. However, if you say "food mill" vs "food grinder", then I think of two different things. Hope this help.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Alright thank you so much guys for the clarification!

                  1. re: suzannaabdul

                    The Magnum is a pretty good pepper mill, but I do not own one. There are many people who love them because they produce a lot of ground pepper quite easily and they are easy to fill with peppercorns. Others don't like them so much because they are made of black plastic and some just prefer wood. There also have been some who have said the door to where the peppercorns go can slide open when grinding pepper. Also, the nut that sets the grind can come loose with use and needs to be reset.

                    Personally, I too like Vic Firth pepper mills. They don't hold as many peppercorns as the Magnum, but they look nice and the grind never changes. They use a mechanism that once the grind is set, it stays the way you set it.

                    Vic Firth sold their company a couple of years ago and now the company is called Fletcher's Mill. The pepper mills seem to be the same. We have the model shown in the link below (although ours was before it got the Mario Batali endorsement).


                    1. re: John E.

                      I used a Peugeot for years. Now I have a Magnum which I like much better.

                      1. re: grampart

                        I have a few Peugeot pepper mills, but I don't use them. The only reason I don't have a Magnum is because I have not found one in a thrift store. The only pepper mills I have purchased new are a Zassenhaus I bought at Penzey's years ago and a spice grinder from Ikea that is for stovetop use.

                      2. re: John E.

                        <now the company is called Fletcher's Mill.>

                        Thanks. Yeah, I just noticed that on Amazon too. Same design still -- well at least the look is the same.