Effective seasoning is the key to every meal. The right amount of salt and pepper will make a dish a standout. Too much or too little, and you’ll find your food is lacking. To be certain you get every dish right, take stock of your kitchenware. Use this guide to make sure you’re using salt and pepper grinders that do the trick. We explain the difference between grinders and shakers. Choose the best one for your kitchen to give your food fresh flavor with easy use.
Grinders vs. Shakers
Freshly ground salt and pepper are far superior to pre-ground. Once you grind a spice, it begins to oxidize. This means spice will chemically change due to exposure to air. When this starts, the spice begins to lose its potency. When using pre-ground spice, you need larger amounts to get an impactful dose. The flavors of pre-ground spices are duller and sometimes will even go stale. For the best tasting dish, and to avoid using great quantities, get a grinder. Don’t worry about every spice you use, but salt and pepper ought to be fresh.
With the best salt and pepper mills, this is not a chore. There are grinders that require less effort to operate than a standard shaker. The best salt and grinders tend to add an aesthetic flair that shakers lack. You’ll be impressing guests in more than one way.
How Grinders Work
The inner-workings of a grinder are pretty standard. Within a grinder’s body is a chamber. The chamber contains a mechanism of burrs with teeth. The top of the tool has an opening which you can pour salt grains or peppercorns. The top is attached to the burr mechanism by a spindle. The spindle activates the turn.
Some of the best pepper grinders possess a two-step grinder. They first crush corns before grinding to ensure optimum flavor. Then the tool will pull the contents onto the burrs. The burrs rub together to force the grains into smaller pieces. Following this action, the ground contents is expelled from an opening. It's typically at the bottom of the tool. The final product is a powder or fine kernels. This basic function is the starting point for grinders. From there, you'll find variety in how grinding is activated. There are differences in how you fill the tool and aesthetics. There are also grinders with coarseness adjustments.
The best salt grinders function a little differently from pepper grinders. This is because salt is not compatible with metal. When grinding salt, you are best served by a tool that uses ceramic. That said, ceramic is not nearly as durable as stainless steel. So selecting a well-made model is important. An alternative to ceramic is a corrosion-resistant metal. While these work well for a while, they will degrade faster than ceramic.
Tip: Grey sea salt, Himalayan and pink salts are the highest moisture salts. To make sure your salt grinder is working well, store in a low-humidity area.
Features to Look For
Many factors should contribute to your grinder decision. Like many kitchen gadgets, these factors are personal and lifestyle based:
- Ensure your chosen grinder has a superior grind mechanism. Some grinders are very affordable because they use acrylic mechanisms. They're cheap, but acrylic will jam and break. You’ll find yourself having to purchase a new set after just a few uses. Instead, make sure you’re selecting models that use stainless steel or ceramic burrs.
- Size is a concern. Do you tend to cook for one or are you serving a family? While larger models take up more counter space, you don’t have to refill them as much. Grinders’ capacity can vary from 1/8-cup to 1 1/2-cups. Choose what will work best for you.
- Do you anticipate wanting a variety of coarseness? Or are your preferences fairly uniform? The best grinders offer different coarseness settings. Some are specifically optimized with switching it up in mind. It should be easy to adjust and offer a breadth of options. You also want your coarseness to be precise and consistent.
- Opting for an automatic grinder? There are many models available these days that eliminate hand grinding. You can produce ground spices with the press of a button. If this is your preference, make sure you select a design that's easy to use. Look for clear labeling and easy settings. The mechanism should be straight-forward.
- With automatic grinders, weighting is also a concern. You’ll want one that uses a battery. Look for one that's well-balanced within the machine. Or, look for one that has an effective rechargeable mechanism.
You need to determine your material preference. Grinders range in style, from classic to modern, and material plays a big part:
- Wood is timeless, and you can find many sorts with simple, smooth curves. Wood is also pretty durable. If the grinder slips from your hands, you won’t run into trouble. Many wood grinders come in a variety of shades. You can match to your kitchen’s color scheme. One concern regarding wood is that it is more difficult to clean. If you don't like germs, it's also harder to disinfect.
- Metal is a great material for those seeking shine and durability. The material, however, is heavier and may rust over time.
- Plastic and acrylic cylinders are durable, easy to clean and lightweight. They also happen to be a bit brittle. A big aesthetic person? These don’t provide the high-end look that wood or metal present.
- Glass is not a common material used for construction. This is because of how breakable it is. But it is extremely sleek and non-porous. This means you can store different peppercorns, herbs and flavored salts with no flavors sticking around.
- Salt and pepper grinders come in many shapes, sizes and styles. They present diverse features to help make the grinding process more pleasurable.
For an old-school experience, you can reach for either a hand-crank or hand-grind set. Classic pepper mills have been around for over 150 years. This option features a head that is removable or a hinged side opening. Once you seal it, you rotate the crank or twist the head. This activates the internal gears. Then, just pour out the ground content. This differentiation is commonly known as dial grind versus twist grind.
These models tend to have a classic, handsome look. The tried-and-true nature of these grinders means they are sturdy. They can last a lifetime with good care. The best salt and pepper grinders will be easy to crank and grip.
Among the best salt and pepper grinders are mid-level options. They still have you turning your wrist to activate. But they come with a few more modern attributes. Rather than the traditional wood or aluminum, you can find stainless steel grinders. There are ones with useful silicon non-slip grips. Or, carbon steel burrs for a precise grind. Want to know when you're getting low on seasoning? Find one with transparent chambers.
The most expensive grinders achieve star status via several factors. Grinders with diamond-sharp burrs will peel spices rather than crushing them. This results in optimal flavor. Some are made of premium materials, like solid copper or chrome steel. These will last a very long time and are typically quite nice to look at, too. They’re the option for the home cook who likes to entertain.
Top-tier salt grinders will combat moisture. Some boast synthetic casing to ensure that the tool is impenetrable to water. This is a great addition since salt and pepper don't respond well to getting wet.
The best grinders will have features that help keep messes under control. Secure locks for hinged access points and well-designed expelling mechanisms help. Using non-absorbent materials like ceramic for grinding mechanisms is exceptional. Or, high-quality acrylics for canisters make for multi-purpose grinders. The features allow you to switch a grinder’s contents from pepper to salt to other spices without lingering flavors.
Look for automatic features that allow for single-handed use. An example is sensitive, well-functioning buttons. And of course, a lifetime guarantee is a sign of a premium product a manufacturer stands behind.
Looking for a salt and pepper grinder to complete your kitchen? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.
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