Remember when going out to a restaurant for a quick bite was something you did often, perhaps even every week? Now, cooking meals and eating at home is no doubt the option you’ve chosen for your family because keeping safe and stopping the spread are bywords of this difficult year.
Some countries still have travel advisories in place, while others still have rules for quarantining at home, but no matter where you live and what the rules say, chances are you’re dining in more, perhaps not dining out at all these days.
And since you’re preparing and eating most of your meals at home, it’s more vital than ever that your kitchen tools, like your salt and pepper grinders, are cleaned and used properly.
If you don’t yet own a grinder, consider investing in one, as fresh pepper and salt make an enormous difference to the flavor and spiciness of a recipe.
Here are some tips for keeping these kitchen essentials sparkling clean and germ-free, so they operate efficiently, and that means you get the best possible spice flavor with a quick flick of the wrist. If you don’t know what the proper way to use a pepper grinder is, we promise you will when you’ve read this!
In order to make you understand, we’ve already recorded a step-by-step video for you, so take a look!
1. Step1: Wiping Down The Grinder
There is no science whatsoever that says packaging in any way contributes to the spread of the coronavirus. Nonetheless, taking extra precautions never hurts, right?
If you feel better wiping off a package of peppercorns when you get it home, by all means, do it. Even if you’re not concerned about the virus contaminating items in your home, it’s important that all your essential kitchen tools, including your salt and pepper grinders, are clean and germ-free when you use them.
Mix up some white vinegar and water into a bottle with a spray nozzle. Use four parts water, one part vinegar, then spray it on the grinder. Wipe off the mixture with a clean cloth. Ensuring your pepper grinder is clean means your one step closer to ensuring you know how to properly use your pepper grinder!
2. Step2: Filling The Grinder With Salt Or Pepper
Okay, you’ve now got a sparkling clean grinder – what comes next? That’s easy – fill it up! Remove the top by simply unscrewing it and take out the dispenser – the part of the grinder that reduces the wobble when grinding – because doing so makes it a whole lot simpler, and less messy, to fill your grinder with salt or pepper.
Spoons are always handy in the kitchen, and they offer a great way for you to fill up your grinder. Dip the spoon into the bag or jar of peppercorns, then gently tip the spoon into the edge of the grinder. Let them fall slowly in, and voila! Soon you’ll be ready to reassemble the grinder, and you’ll have freshly ground pepper at your fingertips for your next recipe.
Sometimes using paper is an efficient way to fill a grinder too. Here’s what you do: fold the paper in half, then put some peppercorns in the crease and slide them into the grinder. Slowly and carefully tip the crease of the folded paper over the lip of the grinder, and pour in the peppercorns.
If you pour too many in all at once, you’re likely to end up with pepper scattered across your kitchen counter, so do this a little at a time, until you “get the hang of it.” That spares you a lot of potential mess – and that’s always the goal, right?
Alternatively, you can use a funnel to pour the peppercorns into the grinder. Be sure it’s clean and dry, then simply place it over the grinder and simply allow the pepper or salt to flow slowly through until the grinder is full.
3. Step3: Setting The Grind Level
There are lots of reasons to buy a salt and pepper grinder, the most obvious and important one being freshness and flavor. But the coarseness level is crucial too and makes a big difference in every recipe you’re preparing. If you’ve never “set” the coarseness level on a grinder before, not to worry: it’s not complicated. Here are a few tips to help you get the right grade of coarseness for salt or pepper.
-Anticlockwise for coarse grind
Turning the nut of the grinder counter anticlockwise gives you a truly coarse grind, and that’s what you want for certain dishes, like salad, meats, and fish. Pay attention to how coarse it is when it first comes out, and adjust the top until the spice is coming out at the correct grind.
-Clockwise for fine grind
Turn the nut clockwise for a fine grind. Extra fine is what you’re used to seeing in pepper shakers in restaurants, or the pepper you buy pre-ground at the supermarket. But these fine grinds don’t pack the flavourful punch of coarser grinds, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a wallop of flavor.
The reason the pre-ground pepper comes like that and is served in most dining establishments is that it blends really quickly and easily into food. But you’re not eating out right now, so make the most of using your salt and pepper grinder at home – you just have to use it correctly!
And by the way, try to remember the setting for the next time you make this dish – it cuts down on finicky test runs!
Now, if you tighten the top too much your grinder won’t work at all. There must be a little room for the salt and pepper to flow down through the inner mechanisms of the grinder, so if you find you’re getting nothing out no matter how much you grind, unwind the top a little.
Remember: too tight is too much!
And not only that, making the top of the grinder too tight could damage the burr inside the grinder. When turning to the tightest, the grinder and grinder housing will get stuck. If you force the pepper grinder to twist, it will hurt the burr core, eventually, make it shatter.
It is worth noting that some people may find the top adjustable nut seems to loosen after using the grinders, and have to tighten the nut again. This is because cracking the mills’ forces salt or peppercorn through the gap between the grinder and grinder housing, and they are crushed into fragments. After a long time usage, the gap will become larger, thus caused the adjustable nut to “loosen”.
It’s not that normal to see if you purchase a good-quality mill, as the inner mechanism is designed strong enough to avoid the above situation. However, you can still pay attention to the ground salt or pepper which falls from the bottom of the mill. If the size of the fragments does not meet your requirement, simply adjust the top nut to your desired size.
4. Step4: Cleaning Your Salt & Pepper Grinder After Using It
Obviously, it’s very important that you clean this kitchen tool thoroughly after using it if you want to grind a different spice in it. You may put salt, pepper, and even other spices in the same recipe, but you don’t want a salty flavor when you grind something for a recipe that doesn’t call for salt – yuck!
First of all, be sure you empty out any bits of salt or pepper in the grinder into the trash or composter. Then carefully take apart the grinder and set the pieces on the counter – be sure you don’t lose any down a drain or into the garbage by mistake.
Delicately brush the burr to get rid of all the bits clinging to it. Then, with the solution of white vinegar and water, we mentioned before, clean the wooden body of the grinder. Don’t let the pieces soak in water, particularly if you have a wooden grinder.
Following these steps ensures you’ve got a properly cleaned salt and pepper grinder, all ready for use the next time you need it.
5. Step5: Reassemble And Store The Grinder
Be sure that every part of the salt and pepper grinder is dry when reassembling. Once you’ve put the properly cleaned salt and pepper grinder back together, you can put it away until you next need it. But where? Most importantly, don’t put it in a spot that’s vulnerable to moisture – that contributes to mold.
A less humid spot is your dining room table, and using a tray or plate beneath the grinder protects the table from grinding residue.
And if your grinders are made of wood, another issue, in addition to humidity, is sunlight. It’s important to keep wooden grinders out of light because if it’s intense, it can make the wood crack and split. The grinder may still work, but it won’t be attractive anymore, and you don’t want that, right?
One method for protecting wood grinders is by mixing one part olive oil and one part vinegar and using the solution as a polish. Just maintain it every six months. It cleans up the wooden veneer well, moisturizes it, and makes small scratches less noticeable. Simply spray the mixture on the grinder and wipe it off – the grinder looks like new!
Quality kitchen tools like salt and pepper grinders help make your recipes so much better, but it’s important that you keep them cleaned and well maintained so they last a long time and you can use them properly.
Taking care of your grinders in the ways we’ve noted here keeps them functioning perfectly, thoroughly clean, and always ready to make your meals even more delicious than they usually are.
And in these unpredictable times, when you’re staying in and cooking more, why not make the most of your opportunity to cook wonderful food for your family? Properly using your pepper grinder contributes to that wonderful food in a big way.
Cleanliness is always vital in the kitchen, but it’s never been more important than it is today, right now, all around the world!