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Milly's 101: What's Wrong With My Grinder?

Milly's 101: What's Wrong With My Grinder?

Here at Milly’s we use and approve every mill we sell. We're all cooks here and we like good gear that makes our job easier - so we just can't be bothered with a 'less than' grinder! And we've found that issues like a patchy flow, an inconsistent grind and product jamming up the works can be infuriating. A few tweaks to how you use and look after your mill can make all the difference to how well your grinder works (and for how long) so let's get you and your mill playing nicely together!

Here are our top tips for successful grinding from the ‘get go’:

Keep everything dry: or, the problem with steam!

Although some mills such as those manufactured by Cole & Mason are ‘steamy pan’ approved, when you grind over a bubbling pan the steam goes up into your grinder and can clog up the mechanism which almost guarantees you'll have an inconsistent grind and potentially a gummed up mechanism.

So you have two choices: you can either grind pepper or salt into your hand before sprinkling into your dish (rather than grinding directly over the pot), or you can stash a little cheapy grinder beside the stove that you don't mind disposing of from time to time.

It's also good practice to clean the grind mechanism regularly (using a soft pastry brush) which will sweep away old grinds and other debris before they can solidify in the works. 

Use grinder specific salt, pepper and spices

When buying your salt and pepper, ensure they have “suitable for use in a grinder” on the packaging and look for spices that are regular in size rather than a mix. Gourmet pepper mixes, especially those that include pink peppercorns, and salts like Himalayan Pink, will sometimes be a little less dry (the old clogged mechanism issue) so we recommend you only half fill your pepper grinder (or third fill for salt) to allow good air circulation plus more regular refilling means you're using fresh product which is better!

PS: If you have a Peugeot Salt grinder, the only suitable salt is dry coarse salt (dry sea salt or rock salt).

Always grind in a clockwise direction!

Good quality mills work with a burr system, (pictured below) meaning spices pass through the two burrs creating an even grind and releasing those fresh spice flavours. By grinding in the same direction you ensure the grind is consistent and minimise the potential for mechanism clogging dust build up.

Peugeot Pepper MechanismPeugeot Salt Mechanism

Clean your grinder regularly

If you notice your mills aren’t working as well as perhaps they once were, it may be time for a clean:

- Empty your mill completely and set the grind setting to the largest setting, to tap out any spices that are clogging the mechanism.

- Let the mill dry out completely.

- If you have a wooden salt mill you may see that the wood is be damp where it is absorbing humidity. You should allow this to dry out naturally over a couple of days in a warm, dry place then brush out the burrs with a dry pastry brush.

- Refill your mills with fresh dry spices and you’re ready to go.

If your mill is past it's use by date, it could be time for a new one. Here are the qualities we look for when assessing new mills for our shop - Milly's 101: A Good Grinder.


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