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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.

            1. Since freshly ground pepper is usually added at the end, no, I don't.

              Takes all of two seconds to pepper the shit out of any dish.

              1. I have two peppermills - one a regular "twist grind", and the other a ratchet level handled kind for when I need a lot of pepper in little time - I got it on clearance from Sur la Table (slightly different than the current model here).


                I have it sitting in a small, flat ramekin, so when I need a lot of pepper, I use the lever version - 10 seconds, and I've got a Tbsp. of pepper.

                So no - I only have the mise of pepper when I'm using it for a certain recipe, and I've ratcheted it out of the Kuhn-Rikon.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Is that the solution? I couldn't for the life of figure out how others were getting x # tsps or tbsps of pepper used in particular recipes. I'd grind onto a plate and dollop into a measuring spoon until I have about enough. Thanks.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Look on Amazon, fieldhawk. There's the ratchet type and the rabbit ears type (which you can also find at Bed, Bath and Beyond). I've tried both the rabbit ears and the ratchet in the stores who had both, and prefer the ratchet.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Thanks! Darnit...I'm on vacation and all the "wants" are easily becoming "haves."

                  2. re: LindaWhit

                    I do it similarly. Grind of pepper if it's a small amount or to taste. If it's like a tsp or more I put it in the spice grinder and measure it out

                  3. I don't think I've ever measured pepper in my life. I grind over whatever it is I'm peppering and eyeball it. Taste, and add more if necessary. If I added too much, I'm shit out of luck. Been working for me, a lot more often than not, for more than 40 years. Don't think I could change now even if someone here convinced me I ought to.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      This would definitely count as an adventurous way to make black pepper cookies.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Ya got me. I think that might be the one time I really would measure, ipse.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          It would certainly make life more interesting.

                          "Life is like a box of JoanN's black pepper cookies ..."

                    2. No, black pepper is not an ingredient that I ever use. I prefer the flavors of capsicums (chile peppers). Ergo black pepper is not part of my 'mise en place' nor of my 'messo sul posto' (the Italian culinary term for 'put in place').

                      1. On cooking shows they have it in a ramiken because they have an army of prep cooks making everything and measuring it out for those specific recipes.

                        They also don't want to have a peppermill malfunction and screw up the shot- or watch the cook grind pepper if its a live show.
                        All reasons that don't apply to my life. So i add fresh ground pepper at the end via my grinder (with penzey's tellicherry peppercorns) since i rarely have made anything that needed the pepper in a quantity incorporated into the dish while cooking.

                        1. If a recipe calls for a lot of freshly ground pepper (like a tablespoon), I'll grind it into a ramekin in advance, because it takes a while to grind that much and if I do it over the pot, my hands get slippery with steam. Smaller amounts I generally grind right into the dish.

                          I find it loses potency fairly quickly - I'd do it the same day, or you're losing the advantage of fresh ground.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            I only use fresh ground after the food has been plated.
                            Most italian restaurant servers offer to grind some pepper onto your entree when it's served to you. Same with fresh ground chili flakes. Same with grated/shaved cheese.
                            Ground pepper added to dishes while cooking add a bitter/rancid note. The pepper has too long to give up it's oils which scorch when exposed to too high a heat.
                            That's why one should never put pepper on say a steak about to be grilled or fried.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              I do the same! Grind it into a dish if it is a lot or if I want a very specific amount. Otherwise--straight into the pot!