I bought a Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Grinder two Easters ago, not for pepper, but to grind whole mahleb for Greek Easter cookies. I chose it over an electronic spice mill because they were all expensive, and many reportedly have problems with the motor burning out after only a few uses. But this doohickey looked like it would work, and as it was relatively cheap, I bought one.
The instructions say it’s not good for grinding oily spices, but I forged ahead recklessly. And it worked great! It ground my 4 tsp worth of mahleb with ease (although with a certain amount of wrist strain, 4 tsp is a lot). The mechanism cleaned easily by running a quarter cup of minute rice through it. I liked it so much that I immediately repurposed it for its intended purpose of general pepper grinding. It was every better using this on pepper.
This gadget makes it easy to grind the quarter/half/whole teaspoon of ‘freshly ground black pepper’ so many recipes call for. You can change the coarseness of the grind via the standard screw knob in the bottom of the grinder. It’s easy to fill when empty – no taking it apart. It really does make grinding pepper fast and easy.
The only bad thing about it is that the ratchet feels a little fragile compared to the forces you can accidentally exert on it. There have been some reports of users snapping the ratcheting mechanism – this hasn’t happened to me. I’m not entirely convinced this is a design flaw so much as an unfortunate side effect of physics. Either way, I consciously reign in the violence of my pepper grinding and my grinder is still intact after a year of heavy use.
For cooking, when you want to grind larger quantities of fresh pepper, it’s the best grinder I’ve ever used.
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