Mills are for more than just pepper –

I’m not the most active social media user, but enjoy Twitter for the bits of information, articles and ideas that are shared freely and widely.  Much of it isn’t particularly useful, but when it is, I’m grateful for this connectivity to creative minds around the world.

Yesterday I came across a new use for pepper mills, an article on the Real Simple magazine blog, Simply Stated, suggesting they be used for grinding coffee for individual French press.  It seems that to grind enough coffee to make a cup would be a lot of work, perhaps worth the effort only in the middle of nowhere on an outdoor adventure, as suggested by Mountainize, a web site dedicated to the outdoor lifestyle, where this tip first appeared.

Not a coffee drinker, this idea never dawned on me, except when I read it, I thought immediately of finely grinding espresso beans as a fresh garnish for a mocha torte, tiramisu or as an add to a great rub for meat.

Here are a few other alternative uses I’ve found for the many peppermills I have:

– whole chilis, to get freshly ground flakes
– whole spice blends, as I don’t like biting into coriander seeds, etc.
– cinnamon bark for fresh grated cinnamon
– different rock salts (Himalayan, Bolivian, Hawaiian, etc.)
– cocoa nibs for garnishing
– dried porcini mushrooms (for meat rubs and adding a hint of depth to sauces & soups)
– one for each kind of peppercorn – black, white, green & pink
– and now one for fresh espresso beans (which means adding only enough for a service as they go rancid quickly)

And the mills shouldn’t be very cheap (they tend to clog and break) but don’t have to be super high end. In fact, I find my $10 glass grinders perform better than my $100 Peugot. I also prefer glass ones because you can see the blend, spice, chili, etc. – I love that.

Don’t fill your pepper mill/grinder very full.  You want to run out of it frequently to ensure you’re using fresh product.  Some of my clients fill large mills with peppercorns once every few years(!), not realizing that flavour begin to diminish and deteriorate after 6 months.

Please shaer your great kitchen uses for pepper mills (and maybe out of the kitchen, too) – I’d love to hear them!

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