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Jul 15, 2014 09:11 AM

Is grinding black pepper part of your mise en place?

Watching cooking shows, the cook always seems to have freshly ground black pepper in a ramekin. I just wait until it's needed and end up milling over a hot pan, but I'm starting to thinking maybe I should keep a ramekin filled with pepper.

What do you do? How long would it be considered "freshly ground"?

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    1. re: grampart

      Also, I highly recommend Tellicherry peppercorns.

    2. escoffier advises adding pepper at the very end, so that is what i do. i add it after turning off the heat.

      pepper is quite volatile, so, no, i would never keep it in a ramekin.

      1. For seasoning at the table, I grind.

        For cooking, frankly, I can't be assed. Also, when you're using a bunch of it, it's more difficult to judge how much you're using by numbers of grinds, as opposed to spoon- or eyeball-measurements of ground stuff.

        I think the issue with buying pre-ground stuff is freshness- you don't know whether it's been sitting around for weeks, months, or years. Simple solution. I throw a handful of peppercorns into my spice mill and keep it on hand in a little jar. When the jar finishes, every month or so, I grind more. That way it's convenient to use but I know it's still nice and fresh.

        1. In my opinion, it really depends how often you use black peppercorn. If you use it often, then it makes sense to have freshly ground black pepper in a ramekin (or whatever container). If you don't use it often, then it is counterproductive.

          All spices loses their favor much faster after being ground. So you have to balance this out. There is no point of grinding a year worth of black pepper into a ramekin and exposing it into the air.

          <What do you do? >

          I don't use black pepper frequent enough to justify it, but maybe you do.

          <How long would it be considered "freshly ground"?>

          It depends if you put a close lid after each usage or if you really expose it into air 24/7. If you have a semi-air tight container, then I would say a month or two? If you are exposing the ground pepper into air, then I would say no more than a week, maybe even just a couple of days.

          This also depend how fine you grind your pepper too. The finer it is, the shorter they last.

          1. I'm sure there are many aspects of cooking on TV that aren't replicated in the home kitchen or, for that matter, the professional kitchen.