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Example spices/nuts that I'll be grinding:
* Cumin seeds
* Mustard seeds
* Peanuts
* Black pepper corns
* Garlic buds and ginger
* Cloves

Questions:

  1. Which kind of grinders allow water in them for making a paste of the spices?
  2. Is there some maximum and minimum capacity for each of the type of grinders?
  3. What are the types of manual grinders which do not require too much amount of manual power/effort? Example: I think using mortar and pestle consumes huge effort.
  4. Which kind of grinders allow us to have a fine powder of spices rather than bits?
  5. This is meant for home use so what qualities should be looked for while purchasing them?
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let us continue this discussion in chat –  Jefromi May 30 '13 at 6:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

No one device, manual or electric, is ideal for all of the tasks that you have enumerated. Many cooks will have more than one tool, depending on the job at hand.

Some spices, particularly cinnamon, are very difficult to grind effectively at home without leaving fibrous bits that may give an unpleasant mouth feel. Of course, when infusing flavor from a whole stick of cinnamon, this is not an issue.

Bottom Line

I would recommend having at least a Microplane type grater for ginger, garlic, and so on, and a rotary type electric grinder for most hard spices.

For the specialty task of making peanut butter, a blender is probably your best tool.

Morter and Pestle

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Also known as a molcajete, is probably the most versatile, but most labor intensive spice grinding tool.

  • Can grind, mash, or mix both dry or wet items, so it is suitable for garlic and ginger; still it is most effective on very hard, frangible spices which can be crushed, or soft items like garlic which can be mashed. Fibrous spices like cumin can be very difficult to do.
  • Lots of work
  • Only suitable for small quantities

Microplane style grater

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A grater with very fine, usually etched, openings is suitable for some tasks including:

  • Garlic, gingner, galangal and the like
  • Nutmeg

Nutmeg Grinder

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A specialty item, just for nutmeg. Most nutmeg grinders actually make very fine shavings, but it is essentially the same thing. They also have storage for nutmegs.

Blender

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Electric blenders are suitable for some grinding tasks:

  • Making peanut butter
  • Grinding soft spices or making wet spice mixtures, as with garlic, ginger, capiscum type peppers

Some high quality blenders may also do a decent job with softer seeds like cumin seeds.

Electric rotary grinder

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These are often marketed as coffee grinders, but they are extremely effective as spice grinders—however, due to lingering flavors, you want to devote one to either coffee or to spices.

Suitable for dry spices, such as cumin, black pepper, allspice, mustard seeds, and so on.

Not very effective for the hardest spices, such as cinnamon.

Note that clove oil (also found to some extent in nutmeg) can cloud plastic parts over time.

Pepper Grinder

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As the name implies, ideal for black pepper, but also effective on other small spices that can fit through the mill such as mustard seeds. Also provides a small quanitity of storage. Most permit the grind size to be adjusted.

Specific Questions

Which kind of grinders allow water in them for making a paste of the spices?

Mortar and pestle, and blenders are suitable for pastes. However, you can also grind your dry spices, and then add them to a wet mixture to create a paste.

Is there some maximum and minimum capacity for each of the type of grinders?

Most home style devices are suitable only for very small quantities. The nutmeg and pepper grinders are good for teaspoon type quantities, and rotary grinders up to a few tablespoons.

Blnders have much higher capacities, but may not be effective except with very soft or frangible items. Peanut butter is one application that they do well with in larger quantities.

What are the types of manual grinders which do not require too much amount of manual power/effort?

They all require significant effort. For spices used in very small quantities, such as black pepper, that may not be noticeable.

Which kind of grinders allow us to have a fine powder of spices rather than bits?

None of the home methods will produce the very fine, even powder that you might expect from a commercial spice house. They have extremely high quality, sometimes specialized equipment, and they also sieve or screen the resulting product to ensure it is uniform, and to exclude larger bits.

Some spices are more suitable for home grinding than others. Ones that you should have little trouble with include black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, mustard seed.

Spices that are very difficult to grind at home include cinnamon.

Cumin, one of the most popular spices, is easy to grind, but difficult to get a perfectly smooth and uniform powder. It tends to have little threads and fibrous bits. In many applications this is not noticeable.

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For spices like cumin and cloves and pepper should "pepper grinder" be used or the "rotary grinder"? Assuming we have only one choice and we want the smallest quantity and finest powder. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 30 '13 at 8:05
    
Its a compromise based on volume. Obviously pepper grinders are ideal for pepper, but they produce very small quantities. I have already noted the special issues with cumin--I have never tried them in a pepper grinder, only a rotary grinder. Cloves may not fit in a pepper grinder. I keep a pepper grinder just for pepper, and use a rotary grinder for all other dry spices myself. –  SAJ14SAJ May 30 '13 at 8:08
    
Okay, which of the rotatory grinders would you prefer to suggest assuming I want smallest quantity of output? –  TheIndependentAquarius May 30 '13 at 8:12
1  
The Krups and Braun are consistently rated extrmely highly. Mine is a Krups. –  SAJ14SAJ May 30 '13 at 8:14
    
Thanks, though not sure if they will be available where I live. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 30 '13 at 8:17

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