Grind Up Some Flavor
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.
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.