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To start with, you’ll need to decide whether to go with a traditional hand-operated grinder or an electric version that does the hard work for you. Both have their pros and cons, so we'll break it down and help you to make the right choice for your culinary needs.
So, we’d recommend them for cooks and diners who want their freshly ground pepper to pack a flavoursome punch and who want a simple, classic grinder. They’re also less likely to become faulty, and they’ll never run out of batteries!
Because they have the power of electricity behind them, and a slightly different blade system, automatic grinders will be able to handle spices other than pepper or salt such as Szechuan peppercorns or dried aromatics making them a great multi-use kitchen gadget.
Purchasing both together as a pair will be useful if you’re wanting to upgrade from your current set or just like the idea of having a matching duo to complement your kitchen or dining table.
Whichever you go for, an important thing to remember is that you should not use salt and pepper grinders interchangeably, as each has blades designed specifically for use with the intended seasoning. Rock salt especially is too hard and tough for some pepper grinders, and salt in general can also corrode metal mechanisms over time.
Wood is strong and won’t chip or scratch if you drop it, and should stand the test of time physically as well as aesthetically. It’s only downfall is that care should be taken not to let it get wet, as it can attract mould or start to rot. This also means you can’t wash it, but brushing it out from time to time should be sufficient.
The useful thing about plastic is that it’s transparency means you can keep an eye on when it needs refilling, and easily spot which seasoning is which between a pair of identical mills. However, it is said that the flavour and potency of the contents can weaken with too much exposure to light if they’re not used up quickly.
If you’re not keen on plastic we would recommend glass as an alternative, as it will share the same visibility qualities but will be much less likely to cloud over time or crack.
Metal grinders can be somewhat heavier than others, so if this is concern for you try to look for those that also incorporate plastic into the design to bring down the weight. Often used for the grinder’s salt or pepper storage section, it can also give you the benefits of being able to check when to top up.
The short of it is, if you want a quality model that grinds efficiently and evenly, and doesn’t fall to pieces after a few uses, then ceramic and steel burrs overtake plastic by a mile. They are both durable, non-corrosive, and will produce a consistent grind without letting too much of the salt or pepper through at a time.
In terms of comparing the two they are fairly similar, but some experts believe steel burrs are sharper than ceramic and won’t dull or blunt as quickly.
Most basic grinders will utilise the well known screw-top adjustment that is simply tightened for a finer grind or loosened for a coarser chunk, which may be enough for most with minimal cooking or seasoning needs.
These days there are some more advanced options on the market, such as those with numbered or marked grind adjustments, known as precision grinders. So, have a look out for these if you’d like something a bit more accurate.
Otherwise, you could seek out those that refill at the base or with a wider opening, that do not require the construction of a DIY paper funnel or end in a sea of spilt peppercorns!
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1. OXO Good Grips Steel Salt and Pepper Grinders
The Perfect Mix of Functionality and Style
2. Peugeot Paris Pepper Mill, Chocolate｜Chocolate
Old-Fashioned Dark Wood With a Twist
Cole & Mason
3. Cole & Mason Gourmet Precision Derwent Salt and Pepper Mill Set
Elegant Manual Grinders to Last a Lifetime
4. Le Creuset Classic Pepper Mill, Volcanic｜Volcanic
An Iconic Kitchenware Piece in Lightweight Plastic
Cole & Mason
5. Cole & Mason Precision Richmond Electric Salt and Pepper Set
Exceptional Quality Electric Grinders
6. T&G Woodware Tip Top Mill Set
A Compact and Practical High Performance Set
7. KitchenCraft Masterclass Hammered Copper Salt and Pepper Mill Set
For the Style-Conscious Diner
8. Savisto Illuminated Electronic Salt and Pepper Mill Set
Best Value Electric Grinder Set
9. OXO Good Grips Lily Salt Mill, Light Wood｜Light Wood
A Smart Take on Tradition
10. Premier Housewares Large Rubberwood Salt and Pepper Grinder Set
A Classically Handsome Budget Wooden Set
Be the envy of all your friends and neighbours and deck your kitchen out with the latest and best products! We've got something for everyone's culinary ventures, so take a look and get inspired.
Author: Natasha Dziubajlo
No. 1: OXO ｜1. OXO Good Grips Steel Salt and Pepper Grinders
No. 2: Peugeot ｜2. Peugeot Paris Pepper Mill, Chocolate｜Chocolate
No. 3: Cole & Mason ｜3. Cole & Mason Gourmet Precision Derwent Salt and Pepper Mill Set
No. 4: Le Creuset ｜4. Le Creuset Classic Pepper Mill, Volcanic｜Volcanic
No. 5: Cole & Mason ｜5. Cole & Mason Precision Richmond Electric Salt and Pepper Set
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