The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Try a coffee mill to grind spices

Eidetix's picture

Try a coffee mill to grind spices

Borrowed from the Food Network's Alton Brown: A coffee grinder does a nice job powderizing whole spices.

I had bought cinnamon sticks a few weeks back with no clue as to how I'd grind them. I tried a cheese grater with no success; I put the stick back in its jar, bought some ground cinnamon and left it at that.

Yesterday, after seeing chef Brown in action Monday night, I took out my long-dormant Starbucks mill and dropped a couple of sticks in it. A few pulses later, I was savoring the richest, punchiest, most vibrant cinnamon I've ever enjoyed a noseful of.

Try grinding your own. You'll like it too.

Beans's picture

I use a coffee mill any time I can get my hands on whole spices. It's great for making a mix too. You can throw some cinnamon, whole cloves and whatever other spice you want and get a well-blended and incredibly fragrant blend.

One of my favorite mixes is garlic powder, paprika, cashews, dried oregano, whole peppercorns, salt and some red pepper flakes. Pulse that in a mill until the cashews are pulverized. With some breadcrumbs, that mix makes a wonderful breading for barbecue chicken.

One thing to keep in mind though: if you're going to be using a mill, either wash it very, very well or have two separate mills for coffee and for spices. It's nearly impossible to wash every trace of spice or coffee out of there, so if you're not careful you get coffee flavored pies.

Coffee mills are wonderful and pretty cheap. I highly recommend it.

Felila's picture

But be careful of cloves. Clove oil will scar and cloud plastic. Don't grind cloves in a coffee grinder with a clear plastic top. You'll have to use a mortar and pestle for the cloves.

According to Cooks Illustrated, the best mortar and pestle is a Fox Run cast iron set, which I will buy if and when I have the money. Would love one for smashing star anise, which I like to put in tea.

EvaB's picture

at my local health food store, for $30 and its great for grinding spices. The lady said they had brought them in, because she had seen salsa being made in one in Mexico on a trip! My brother ground walnuts for kifles 2 years ago, and they were perfect, much better than trying to chop with a knife or food processor, also ground whole cadamom seeds that were very old, and had wonderful cadamom cookies.

I would be wary of a cast iron one, as iron pots (non stainless and non enameled) is one reason people in the artic got scurvy, they used large iron pots to cook fruits for winter use, and it destroyed vitamin c, so would prefer a stone, or at the least stainless steel for a mortar  and pestle.

clazar123's picture

Vitamin C helps people absorb iron when they take an iron supplement and is used in metabolizing excess iron out of the body when they have an over-intake of iron.A more pressing problem is that many people are iron deficient (anemic)and cooking in iron pots actually reverses that, resulting in great improvement in health.

Vit c and iron from iron cooking pots does have a relationship but saying that iron pots used under normal circumstances (such as to grind spices) can cause scurvy is simply not anywhere near truth. If you cook acidic foods in the iron pot and store it there and then consume large amounts of the resulting food,day after day, you could be taking in a large amount of iron per day. The body will try and process it out of the body and uses vit C to do that and under these  circumstances can cause a vit c deficiency.

So use whatever mortar and pestle you want without fear-you won't lose your teeth (scurvy). And use an iron pot to cook your meals in to put some roses in your cheeks.