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Grind Up Some Flavor

Updated on January 17, 2015

Grinding Spices and More with your Electric Spice Grinder

Do you love the smell of fresh ground spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, anise, cardamom and more? An easy way to have these great smelling ground spices is to use an electric spice grinder.

Besides spices you can also use the grinder for seeds, nuts, grains and herbs. When you grind things yourself you'll know they're fresh.

Below, I'll discuss the grinders, food items to grind and how to clean them. Let's get started.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Which is better?

Blade or Burr Grinder?

A spice grinder is often also referred to as a coffee grinder. Electrical grinders are available in two types: blade and burr.

The blade grinder is the most used as it is inexpensive. It uses a metal blade to chop up the item being ground. At times the grind texture may be a little uneven but overall the blade grinder does an excellent job.

Burr grinders grind items between two abrasive surfaces, one is revolving and one is not. It is easier to regulate the grind texture with a burr grinder. There are two types of burr grinders:

  • The wheel burr grinder uses a wheel that grinds on the spice that is on a flat surface. The wheel is going extremely fast and this makes the grinder messy.
  • The conical burr grinder uses a "ring" that turns slower than the wheel and produces a more consistent texture. It is also less messy to use. Many prefer this type of grinder because they can regulate the texture. These grinders are the most expensive but do an excellent job.

This One isn't Just for Coffee

This grinder does an excellent job with spices and it works great when you put in several spices at once to make a mix for a particular dish. For an Indian dish, you might put in cumin seeds, tumeric, coriander and a few other spices to come up with a curry powder. You could do the same for a taco seasoning powder; just at the right spices together and it's taco time.

Whether you grind one or several spices together, it is guaranteed that what you have is fresher than what you might find at the store.

Oh the things you can grind . . .

Coffee isn't on the list

Below is a list of items you can grind in your grinder. If possible dedicate a separate grinder for your coffee and you won't have to worry about mixing the flavors of coffee and whatever else you grind.

  • Spices - I haven't found a spice I couldn't grind in my electric grinder. Peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, cumin are just a few spices to grind. You'll want to prepare spices for grinding by removing any shells or stems.
  • Herbs - Grinding herbs extracts more flavorful oils and gives them a more palatable texture. Dried herbs are usually tough and grinding them makes them more pleasant to eat.
  • Seeds - Flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are just a few seeds that you might want to grind. Ground seeds become rancid easily so it is best to just grind only what you need at that time.
  • Grains - Oats, millet, barley, rice and wheat can be ground. Like seeds they do not keep long once ground and it's best to only grind what you need for your recipe.
  • Nuts - Using your grinder is an easy way to make nut flours. Soft nuts like peanuts, cashews, walnuts and pecans grind easily. I chop up almonds a little with a sharp knife before putting them in the grinder to make it easier on the grinder. Nuts are another item that does not keep well once ground. Note - Do not try to make nut butter in your grinder, it will most likely burn out the motor.
  • Ice - Depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, you may be able to grind small amounts of ice in your grinder.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cleaning the Machine - It's quick and easy

To clean your grinder, first wipe it out with a cloth and then use a pastry brush to get out the bits and pieces in the crevices. This should clean it fairly well.

If it needs more cleaning, a simple technique is to add white rice and grind it. It gets any dust or pieces that are still in the grinder.

Below is a video demonstration of using rice to clean your grinder.

Do you grind your own spices?

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How do you use spices? - Thanks for stopping by!

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    • SamuraiMarine profile image

      Samuel Wright 4 years ago from Bakersfield, Ca.

      Thanks for this... I have a grinder, but it is a cheapie and not much longer for this world.

      When I really want to feel the joy, I will use my mortar and pestle to grind spices. Old-school, but it does the job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Freshly ground spices are so much better, I have tried a few.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I grind some of my spices and use some already dusted. I can taste the difference but sometimes we have to make a compromise... I hope I'll have more time in future to use more fresh stuff... Thanks for this useful info!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 5 years ago

      This is a great idea. I should try doing this.

    • LilyBird profile image

      LilyBird 5 years ago

      @justramblin: I'm thrilled my lens was helpful to you. Enjoy your fresh ground cinnamon!

    • justramblin profile image

      justramblin 5 years ago

      You are so smart. I never thought about using my coffee grinder for anything but coffee. Now that's a really smart idea. Nothing is better than the smell of freshly ground spices. I have cinnamon sticks I have never used, now I can just stick them in my grinder which I never use for coffee beans. Thanks for a great lens

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I love grinding spices, makes a meal taste so much better.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      This is a great idea for someone wanting fresh spices. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 5 years ago

      Well thought out and beautifully presented. Thank you : 0

    • thegreenninja profile image

      thegreenninja 5 years ago

      Fresh spices are my favorite way to season a meal. YUM!

    • LilyBird profile image

      LilyBird 5 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Freshly ground spice is a real treat - it really can make all the difference in cooking and baking, can't it?

      Nicely done, Mary.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      What a great idea!

    • profile image

      ericsdorsey 5 years ago

      Great lens! Never thought about grinding my own spices, except for ground pepper of course. Thank you for this information.