Our CEO and Head Spice Girl Patti Doyle is a collector of spice accessories, and we consider her our resident expert when it comes to prepping, grinding and getting creative with Rumi spices. We asked her about spice grinders, from her first to her favorite, plus some of her top tips for using spice grinders in your kitchen.
Rumi: Tell us about your fist spice grinder.
Patti: The first spice grinder I remember having is an old brass one with a hand crank that my mom gave to me when I moved out on my own. It may have really been intended for coffee, but it got the job done for my first kitchen! I wish I still had it but I think it got lost in transit in one of my many moves. It looked like this!
Rumi: How did adding spice grinders to your kitchen change the way you cooked and used spices?
Patti: Spice grinders make everything taste better - grinding your spices right before you’re going to use them makes them so much fresher, especially if you toast them a little bit first. Grinding your own spice also gives you a lot more control. You can make your spices really coarse for meats and rubs, or really fine for adding to liquids, such as soups.
Rumi: How often do you use your spice grinders? How do they play into your daily vs special occasion cooking?
Patti: Once you get used to using them, you’ll use them all the time. They’re easy, quick to clean and give you so much flexibility.
Rumi: How do you recommend caring for your spice grinders to keep them in their best shape?
Patti: For the most part, I just brush them clean or wipe them out. If I’ve used saffron in them, I tend to wash them with just a little bit of soap and water so they don’t get discolored.
Rumi: Do you have any brands or models that you recommend? For the new home cook? For the experienced chef?
Patti: I have a few! My personal favorite is a cast iron manual spice grinder from Zassenhaus. I love the weight of it plus the ability to easily grind to any coarseness. I always keep an electric coffee grinder on hand for making spice blends. It’s the fastest and easiest way when trying to combine a lot of spices or make a bigger batch of anything. And it’s speedy - sometimes too speedy - pay attention so that it doesn’t grind more finely than you would like. (Please: dedicate one just for spices. Coffee + spices = bad flavor combos.)
I love a mortar and pestle for the visual aesthetic as much as how flexible they are. I find it works especially well for small amounts of spices. I keep mine out on my kitchen counter because I love the look of the Tunisian wood. I have a similar one in marble - I really like that one for how well it works to create saffron powder from threads.
I have one of those cute little hand mills from Cuisinart. It doesn’t offer as much flexibility for grinding for the others, but I like it for combining spices with salt and also nice if you’re trying to grind right onto meats or something and want to keep a hand free.