Freshly cracked pepper tastes a lot better than ground, and it adds a feisty
touch to everything from potato chips to curry to steak. A good pepper mill
is easy to use, efficient, comfortable to grip and fully adjustable, so the
grounds come out powder-fine or truly coarse.
Manual pepper grinders are really the way to go. We did find some decent
reviews for electric pepper grinders, but on the whole, chefs prefer manual
models that are easy to grip and feel good in the hand. Plus, manual pepper
mills don't need batteries.
Here are a few tips to choosing and using a pepper mill:
- Pick your peppercorns
carefully. Use a single type of pepper in your grinder; otherwise
the flavorful compounds may combine to produce off flavors. Many chefs
prefer the robust, complex flavor of Tellicherry black peppercorns, but
there's a wide array of peppercorns available, and each has a unique flavor
- Clean carefully. Brush the grinding mechanism with a toothbrush and wipe
down the mill itself with a mild cleaner or a damp cloth. Do not immerse
your pepper mill, or its mechanism may rust.
- Do not fill a pepper
mill with salt, or a salt mill with pepper. The two types of mills
have different grinding mechanisms, and salt may corrode the metal mechanism
inside a pepper mill.
- Read the manual. Most,
but not all, pepper grinders can be adjusted to produce a finer or
coarser grind by turning a small screw. You should experiment to determine
how fine or how coarse a grind your mill can produce.
- Disposable pepper mills
are flimsy. While some jarred peppercorns come with built-in mills,
the plastic components can break if the jar falls to the floor, and they
don't grind uniformly, experts say.
- You can crush peppercorns
without a grinder. If you're stuck without a mill, you can crush
peppercorns coarsely with the help of a heavy pot or a glass, but don't
expect a uniform grind.