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[Comments] (8) The Spice Trade: I bought a bunch of spices a while back. I bought a bunch of spices. I didn't figure the weights correctly so I've got enough sage, dried parsley, cloves, etc. to last for years. So if you want some spices, let me know when you're at my house and I'll give you some.

Among my spices are many whole spices which I figured I would grind as needed to make them last longer. This has not worked out very well because I have found no good way to grind spices in small amounts. I got a tiny coffee grinder because that's what Alton Brown recommended, but you have to fill it to the top with spices to get a good grind, which defeats the purpose. Should I just buy a mortar and pestle?

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Posted by Lionfire at Fri Jul 22 2005 01:11



Posted by Brian Danger Hicks at Fri Jul 22 2005 01:17

Not only should you get the mortar and pestle, but you also need to get plenty of beakers, test tubes, and bunsen burners, otherwise the mortar and pestle will seem out of place.

Posted by Brendan at Fri Jul 22 2005 13:09

Also, a skull.

Posted by anonymous at Fri Jul 22 2005 13:31

You can get good results from a small, fairly inexpensive mortar and pestle. I have the "B" model from this page:

I got it for about half that when it was on sale and with my University discount.

But crushing does lead to different results than grinding. For grinding, I just have another peppermill to grind spices of all times. They have clever ceramic ones (which also crush, but do so finer & easier than in a mortar and pestle & the "grind" is MUCH closer to being a real grind). These are easy to clean & don't trap the flavorful oils or rust like metallic grinders.

I am surprised that you can't grind a small amount in the coffee grinder.

Posted by Frances at Fri Jul 22 2005 16:34

And a black cat, and a dried alligator hanging from the ceiling.

Posted by Brendan at Sat Jul 23 2005 00:38

If you get a skeletal alligator, you can also fulfill the skull requirement.

Posted by t at Sat Jul 23 2005 17:25

what you have to do is shake the coffee grinder in a gentle up&down sort of way to get a decent grind.

Posted by Zack at Sun Jul 24 2005 01:16

Your small coffee grinder has a chamber at the top in which you put stuff-to-be-ground, with a rotating blade inside. You close the lid, turn it on, and the blade spins very fast and, theoretically, makes stuff into powder. Right?

If so, this is not the kind of "grinder" that Alton Brown means. It works by chopping not crushing, and as you've discovered, it doesn't work at all unless it's full. What you want, assuming you don't want a mortar and pestle, is usually sold as a "spice mill". It's basically a small pepper mill that's easy to refill.

The distinction between 'crushing' and 'grinding' above makes no sense... grinding is just crushing brittle stuff, like spices, until they break into really fine particles. This is more manual labor with a mortar and pestle than with a mill, but you can do it. (Contrariwise, with a mortar and pestle you have a lot more control over just how fine things get ground.) The coffee-chopper you have, however, can't get stuff down really fine ... it is, for example, useless if you're trying to grind coffee fine enough to make espresso with it.

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