The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

9:19 PM

Food Tip - Grinding Spices

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Grinding Herbs and Spices

Most of us are used to buying spices in the store.  In today's age of simplicity and ease, just about everything is available toasted, ground, powdered, or dried in a bottle, and many people wouldn't even recognize half of these spices in any other situation.  However, the more a product is processed, the more it can lose some of its original quality.  Just like ground coffee releases many of its oils and loses flavor much more quickly, herbs and spices tend to do the same.  And just like coffee, there is a tool that can allow us to extract the best flavor from many spices at home.
Most of you are probably familiar with the coffee grinder, and the delicious taste you can get out of grinding whole bean coffee at home every time you use it.  The same equipment can be used to grind up herbs and spices, and in addition to extracting the best flavors from those items, can also allow you to mix together some great combinations with ease.

Krups Coffee Grinder

While there are spice grinders on the market, if you can't get one of these, or if they are more expensive, a simple electric coffee grinder is what I use, and will work just as well.  A push-top plastic or metal coffee grinder will allow for quick grinding and relative precision, and makes a great spice grinder.
Note: do not use a grinder you use for coffee or tea to grind spices!  You will never get the taste out, and your coffee will be tainted.  If you use a coffee grinder for coffee, it is absolutely necessary to have a separate grinder for spices.
Use this grinder to grind up whole or large spices and herbs.  Make sure you use dried herbs, and spices that will grind well.  Don't be afraid to mix things up, and grind your own custom spice mix.  Some good examples of things that grind well are peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, dried rosemary, and coarse sea salt, among others.

Cuisinart Spice Grinder

The best way to go about grinding your spices is to place them in the grinder, then pulse them a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  Do this by pressing the top of the grinder for just a second, waiting, and pulsing again, until the desired result has been achieved.  If you have large spices or things that are a bit tougher to grind, you may want to grind them partially before you add other things to your mix.
Enjoy, and don't be afraid to get creative!  Just don't mix up your grinders, or your morning coffee might taste like garlic saffron cumin coffee!

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