If you don’t have a grinder handy, you have several alternatives to grind your spices. With these methods, you can easily crush the spices and process them further.
Anyone who likes to work with spices would do well to get the right tools. Depending on your preferences and the quantities used, a mortar, coffee grinder, pepper mill or even a rolling pin are ideal for crushing all kinds of spices. But when should I use which weapon, and what do I have to consider? We have put together a brief overview for you here.
If you are just beginning your seasoning career and do not have a grinder, you can also use typical household items to help yourself. It costs nothing at first (except for a little muscle power).
1. Grind Spices with a Mortar
The classic is the mortar. Without a doubt, the mortar is the most sensual way of grinding spices, although not always the fastest. A mortar is particularly suitable for grinding small portions of a few teaspoons. Depending on the size of the mortar, sometimes more or less. But no matter how big the mortar is, with large portions it becomes tedious and tedious.
One of the great advantages of the mortar is that you don’t always have to grind fine powder, you can also roughly crush grains and seeds. There are many courts that build on that.
Briefly, on the choice of mortar, I personally prefer to use a heavy granite mortar. A slightly rougher (unpolished) surface makes mortaring easier. Steep, high walls ensure that seeds and grains remain in the mortar and do not jump out.
Benefits of Mortar
- Very suitable for small quantities.
- Good control over the fineness of the ground spices.
Disadvantages of Mortar
- With larger quantities exhausting and tedious.
- Fine powder usually needs a lot of patience.
How do you Grind Spices?
- Put all the spices in the mortar. Be careful not to overfill the mortar.
- To start, lightly toast the spices. Peppercorns in particular like to jump out of the mortar if they are counteracted by too much force.
- Alternately tap and rotate the tamper until the desired fineness is reached.
- You look particularly aesthetic with the same rhythm.
Tips & Tricks for Mortars
- Roast spices before grinding.
- Grind spices together with salt or sugar.
Mortaring can be made a lot easier if you dry-roast the spices in a pan beforehand. This makes them a little more mellow. This extra effort is worth it, especially with hard spices such as caraway or fenugreek. The addition of salt or sugar (depending on what fits the recipe) also makes the grinding process easier and ensures a finer powder.
2. Grind Spices with the Coffee Grinder
A good tip for anyone who still has an old-hand coffee grinder in the corner: coffee grinders can be wonderfully misused and used as a spice grinder. Even very small amounts of spices can be easily ground with the screw grinder.
Compared to the mortar, the coffee grinder also gets along well with very hard spices such as caraway or fenugreek. Only with hard cinnamon sticks it becomes problematic because they easily get wedged in the grinder.
If you also use the same grinder for coffee and spices, you have to expect that the spices will smell a little like coffee or the coffee will smell like spices.
To avoid this, you can simply grind 1-2 hands of rice with the mill after grinding. It neutralises the aroma.
Benefits of Coffee Grinder
- Easy and fast.
- Suitable for very small as well as medium-sized quantities of spices.
- Also grinds hard cumin and fenugreek.
- New life can be breathed into old coffee grinders.
Disadvantages of Coffee Grinder
- Hard cinnamon sticks get wedged in the grinder.
- Previous flavours remain in the grinder: it is best to have a grinder exclusively for spices.
Tips & Tricks for Grinding Spices with the Coffee Grinder
- Neutralise lingering aromas in the coffee grinder with rice.
3. Pepper Mill as a Mortar Alternative
A pepper mill is a wonderful alternative to a mortar because you can use it not only to crush peppercorns.
- If the grains are slightly larger, you may need to coarsely chop them before putting them in the pepper mill.
- Transfer the peppercorns to another container for a short time so that you can fill the spices into the pepper mill.
- This method is one of the easiest as the grinder does the crushing and grinding.
4. Crush Spices with a Rolling Pin
A rolling pin is not only good for baking but is also great for grinding spices:
- You can put them in a plastic bag so that the spice seeds don’t jump away later due to the pressure.
- Place the plastic bag containing the spices on a work surface that you can easily apply some pressure to.
- Now roll the rolling pin over the spices until they gradually become smaller.
- Although this method does not produce a fine powder, it is perfectly adequate for crushing the spices.
5. Crushing with Cup Base and Co.
As an alternative to the rolling pin, you can also use other objects that have a flat bottom:
- A cup base, a glass or even a meat tenderizer are suitable for this. The main thing is that the underside is flat and can withstand a little pressure.
- Here, too, you should put the spices in a plastic bag beforehand so that they do not get lost.
- Place the bag on a work surface and press down on the spices with the bottom of a cup, for example, until they are broken up.
- Especially soft spices that can be easily ground up.
Tricks & Tips
Industrially ground spices have already lost a large part of their aroma before they leave the factory floor. Because essential oils evaporate in a very short time – and with it the valuable taste. Anyone who knows the difference between ground pepper from the mill and the finished product can guess how much better freshly crushed cardamom, home-grated mace, or coriander seeds roasted and crushed in the pan taste. Takes a little more work, but worth it. I Promised!
1. Use an Old Coffee Grinder
The solution to all problems: an electric coffee grinder! So you really get almost everything small. Blends in particular can be wonderfully ground into a powder in a coffee grinder. But even individual spices such as liquorice root can be turned into a fine powder in the electric grinder without any effort. Even with a high-performance food processor or a blender, you can get spice mixtures into small pieces in no time at all.
2. Tie a Spice Bag
Simply fill a sachet or tea infuser with spices – and then steep in the liquid of your choice. For example, you can put liquorice root and black tea in a tea egg and let it steep in your cup for three minutes – it tastes wonderfully sweet, even without sugar! Or you can hang three teaspoons of red mulled wine spice in the spice bag with the red cabbage in the water. After about 20 minutes you can take the bag out again. Even the scent will convince you!
3. Put Salt in the Mortar
Many of our mixtures are easier to break up in a mortar if you add a little blue salt. The sharp, hard grains of salt helps you create more friction. The same goes for sugar too! For example, you can add winter sugar to our Christmas bakery. The sugar will help you grind the mixture nicely and finely.
4. Just Cook Spices
You can simply add some of our spices, such as paprika, to your tomato soup and let it cook. This makes the spicy vegetables wonderfully soft and tastes great. You can also simply simmer our cinnamon stick in milk to make pudding later, for example. After a while, you can simply take the pole out again.
The same applies to chilli: just boil it and fish it out again at the end or chop it up with a hand blender. The trick with the hand blender also works. Boil the spices in milk and chop easy-peasy.
5. Grate your Spices
Turmeric, galangal and ginger roots can be finely grated with a grater. Just like you might be doing with nutmeg. If you’re worried about your fingers, you can get an attachment for your grater.
Fortunately, there are several ways to grind spices without a grinder. The easiest way is to use a coffee grinder, which works well with both hard and soft spices. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, you can also use a mortar and pestle, a rolling pin, or even a cup base. Just be sure to put the spices in a plastic bag first to avoid them getting lost.