How to grind pepper?
September 6, 2017 7:18 AM   Subscribe

What is the best manual pepper mill to replace a battery-operated pepper mill?

I know someone who, years ago, splurged a gift card on a fancy, expensiveish, battery-operated pepper grinder. They said it was totally worth it because of the plentiful, nicely ground pepper that it provided. They no longer use this pepper mill, though, because it takes about a million batteries and isn't practical. It currently sits on the counter dead, as it has for quite some time.

I need to get this person a gift and I was thinking that an expensive replacement pepper mill that lacks the problems of this battery-operated one might be a good idea. I have checked this thread from 2007 but wanted to ask specifically about finding a grinder that might be a good replacement for a battery-operated one in the UK.


I have been looking at a Peugeot mill that looks pretty sweet to me but I don't know if it's a good idea. I don't really know why they wanted a battery powered one in the first instance, but since it's not being used because of the batteries does anyone have any recommendations on an excellent manual replacement, maybe one that gives a lot of pepper but isn't hard to grind? Or would it be better for me to just give them loads of batteries? Thank you for any help!!
posted by Polychrome to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Unicorn mills are what you are looking for to maximize pepper output. They aren't pretty, but they are exceedingly effective.
posted by saeculorum at 7:22 AM on September 6 [6 favorites]


Serious Eats just published their list of best pepper grinders. Maybe that'll give you some ideas. (NB: They didn't review the Peugeot because it was too expensive, but the commenters all seem to love it).
posted by General Malaise at 7:23 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


I never thought I would care about a pepper mill, but I really love my Unicorn Magnum. Enormous showers of pepper in an instant, with a butter-smooth grinding mechanism. Not battery-operated, of course, but smooth and quick enough that it's not a chore to grind a lot of pepper, if that's what you're interested in.

I hope it's available in the UK.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:24 AM on September 6 [3 favorites]


I can anti-recommend Peugeots. I don't know why they have the reputation that they do. I've had several and none have been anywhere near as useful as the grinder that now comes built into the top of the McCormick bottle. Obviously that's not suitable as a gift but honestly it's an awesome grinder, with three easy-to-use settings.
posted by HotToddy at 7:24 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


I know the UK doesn't have Crate and Barrel, but at their stores they have all of their grinders set up with a little tub you can grind pepper into to get a feel for the product. I wonder if there is a similar store in the UK?

Otherwise, one thing to consider would be one-handed operation, which presumably the electric one has. There are some with a button on the top like a retractable pen, and they seem to work well but are a bit more expensive than typical grinders.
posted by papayaninja at 7:25 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I replaced my battery-powered pepper mill with a unicorn magnum and have been extremely happy with it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:36 AM on September 6


I'm sorry that I don't know whether this is available in the UK but speaking as someone who really loves a lot of fresh ground pepper on whatever food is at hand, I have been absolutely delighted with this mill, which is remarkably inexpensive, incredibly easy to use, and has a sizeable output. In other words, a very high bang-for-buck ratio.
posted by janey47 at 7:43 AM on September 6 [3 favorites]


I have this Unicorn one and it is amazing. Grinds a shit-ton of pepper very quickly.
posted by bondcliff at 7:45 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I guess we all have Unicorn Magnums of some sort. I really do find it much better than the other three I've lived with.
posted by advicepig at 7:58 AM on September 6


I'm in the UK and have a small Cole and Mason grinder with this sort of design. I've had a history with pepper grinders that stop working properly after a few years, but this one is still going strong after nearly ten years. It produces a generous and consistent amount for minimum effort and is very easy to fill.
posted by kelper at 8:31 AM on September 6


We went through a time period where we were trying to find the perfect pepper grinder - we bought a number of them, battery operated and not.

I just went on Amazon to check my order history for the type, and sure enough - it's a Unicorn Magnum.

My husband says it's one of the best gifts I have ever gotten him. I highly recommend it!
posted by needlegrrl at 8:42 AM on September 6


It has a treatment that protects the steel from corrosion and rusting which will maintain sharpness and resistance to wear and improves durability
I'd need to know what the treatment is before I went with the Peugeot, because it's going to end up in your food when the bearing surfaces wear even a little and the blades begin to impinge on each other.

But I'm grumpy about pepper grinders anyway, and think a mortar and pestle is superior.
posted by jamjam at 8:57 AM on September 6


I can happily nth the Unicorn Magnum grinder recommendations; Mr. Kouti and I received the paired salt and pepper grinders as wedding presents, and we've been married eight years as of next month. They both see heavy daily use in our household.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 9:00 AM on September 6


Sweethome also has a list of best pepper mills. I recently got the "budget" one they recommend, the Trudeau Seville, and it's great. Having used the plastic thing built into the top of the McCormick peppercorn jar after my previous mill broke, a real one is a thousand times smoother to use and more consistent with the grind.
posted by misskaz at 9:08 AM on September 6


If you want to go fully medieval, buy the Skeppshult spice mill (we wound up with three...they're great. We haven't tested the thing that they sell as "pepper grinder" though).
posted by Namlit at 9:18 AM on September 6


I'm pretty happy with my OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder. It seems to be the one that Jacques Pépin uses on his latest show, if that impresses you.
posted by H21 at 9:28 AM on September 6


I love the Peugeots, they give precise control and an even grind and they last forever, when your new fangled super-fast grinder has worn out and been sent to landfill, the Peugeot will still be barely broken in. Sweethome also agree.
posted by Lanark at 9:39 AM on September 6


OMG THEY DON'T MAKE THE UNICORN PEPPERMILL I CAME IN TO RECOMMEND ANY MORE!!!

I have THIS ONE and it has a lifetime guarantee + it has been stolen from me at work and I had to replace it, because it was that great. The "fin back" they offer now is similar? Or check ebay? Maybe call them and see if you can still buy it?

I got both of mine at the Brewster Cookshop in Massachusetts, you might call them, too.

This is the only correct answer to this question. Also, Malabar Peppercorns are what you want to use. Trust me.
posted by jbenben at 9:54 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Lol, I thought the question was about one-handed peppermills, if it is not, than I'm sure anything else in the Unicorn line will do. Malabar peppercorns are still the only answer to the un-asked second question - you can't gift a pepper grinder without pepper corns!
posted by jbenben at 10:00 AM on September 6


One advantage of the Peugeot over the Unicorn is that you can take the top off and attach a power drill for those occasions when you need a lot of pepper. Unless your drill has a really deep shank you'll need something to fill the gap between the tip of the shank and the top of the now-open grinder. Alton Brown uses a film canister; I used a prescription pill bottle. (I do this for brisket; I need ¾ cup coarse black pepper per brisket and prepackaged ground pepper is never fresh).
posted by fedward at 10:03 AM on September 6 [3 favorites]


I have been absolutely delighted with this mill, which is remarkably inexpensive, incredibly easy to use, and has a sizeable output. In other words, a very high bang-for-buck ratio.

I was coming in to recommend this! I just got one a few months ago and it's been awesome.

It is especially nice for someone with hand troubles, since there's no hard gripping or twisting (you rachet back and forth) it's been a dream. And I confirm as someone who loves pepper, this thing puts out a lot of pepper. I cook a lot of large meals with lots of pepper, and it's taken all of the dread out of it.

Also easy to use when your hands are covered in slippery stuff and you'd rather clean the pepper grinder later than wash your hands now. I got mine for like $14 on amazon I think.
posted by mayonnaises at 10:07 AM on September 6


The Cole and Mason that Cook's Country recommends is really wonderful- lots of grind choices and easy to fill.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:23 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Coming in to 2nd the Cole & Mason. I got mine for $30 with a coupon from Williams-Sonoma, and it's the best pepper grinder I've ever had. Great variety of sizes, easy to use, and easy to fill. I love the thing more than I probably should.
posted by PearlRose at 11:40 AM on September 6


I was going to suggest the Unicorn but lots of people beat me to it. We upgraded to a Unicorn after years of getting by with a junky, functioning old mill. It was life changing. We bought one for my parents who were skeptical it wouldn't match up to the brass Turkish pepper mill they bought in Istanbul. Within the first grind they were hooked. They're really a joy to use, but I found myself putting more pepper on things than I was used to because it's so efficient.
posted by kendrak at 12:00 PM on September 6


We have this style of pepper mill, which we registered for after seeing a set at a family member's house. Our set was from Crate & Barrel, but it looks like there are a lot of comparable quality out there. It's awesome and elegant. It's the only pepper mill I've had that grinds pepper fine enough that it doesn't make me cough, and the one-touch thumb action is super easy. I'm kind of a fan.
posted by limeonaire at 12:00 PM on September 6


Whatever you decide make sure that the grinding burrs are steel, not plastic. I've had a Peugeot for the last 10 years and it is going to outlast me. An added bonus is that Peugeot mills are still made in France, not China.

fedward said you could connect a drill to the top of a Peugeot. I though this was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard so I just opened mine up and sure enough my Bosch drill fits! I'm now unreasonably excited about this.

Finally a few people have recommended Malabar pepper. I've always used Tellicherry pepper. Is there a difference?
posted by codex99 at 12:13 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I have only ever owned one pepper mill. When I was twenty my mother bought me a small Peugeot. 44 years later and it is still going strong. Expensive? I don't think so, on a cost per use (or year) basis, this thing is cheap.
posted by dbmcd at 12:41 PM on September 6


I love this simple, cheap and effective Ikea pepper mill. Best one I have ever used, and I'm European, so I use a lot of black pepper because we're fancy like that. I'm sorry that it's so cheap!
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:28 PM on September 6


One more for the unicorn magnum. I don't know what the sweethome was thinking. They must not like pepper very much. The unicorns grind copious amounts of pepper. I have a friend who would only use a mortar and pestle, the unicorn I gave him changed his life.
posted by booooooze at 1:46 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I have the OXO one that @H21 recommended and i like it.
posted by pyro979 at 3:58 PM on September 6


I also have the Ikea pepper mill and love it. (though it's $6 so not really suitable as a fancy gift)
posted by oranger at 8:12 PM on September 6


Am I the only person who has a Peugeot and hates it? Anyways, I have hated it for quite some time and have been meaning to look for a new, better one, so this AskMe is quite useful, thanks.
posted by old_growler at 9:08 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Bought a Peugeot at the recommendation of that thread. Am underwhelmed.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:54 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I am a pepper fiend. We picked up a T&G Woodware grinder in the UK and found it the best grinder we've ever used. I've since ordered them from Amazon in the US as gifts. Fantastic grinder, and in the past I've used several models of Peugeot and Zassenhaus, which are good, but not as effective, adjustable, and easy to fill as the T&G.
posted by amusebuche at 6:18 AM on September 7


Finally a few people have recommended Malabar pepper. I've always used Tellicherry pepper. Is there a difference?

Tellicherry are, depending on who you ask, either just larger Malabar peppercorns, or larger Malabar peppercorns from a particular area. Either way, they're a little less hot and more fragrant and worth the extra expense, in my book. (Which is to say: you're already using the good stuff.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:24 AM on September 7


is pivoting to a discussion of pepper varietals (or alternatives) a derail? if its allowable id just say that while I use telicherry for my everyday needs I came home from Cambodia with a jar of Kampot peppercorns and loved them and also have a small stash of Grains of Paradise, a seed with very similar flavors and uses. If you were looking for fancy stuff to bundle with the new grinder id highly recommend either/both.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:11 AM on September 7 [1 favorite]


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