Grinding mondo peppercorns
December 7, 2006 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I love Tellicherry pepper, but I need to find a pepper mill that can handle these extra-large peppercorns.

Tellicherry pepper tastes great, but a lot of the peppercorns are too large for normal pepper-grinding mechanisms. Do you know of a peppermill that's up to the job -- a mill that's not battery-powered?

I do know about the (IMO) ugly Zassenhaus -- any others?
posted by wryly to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I use a cheap mill from IKEA and it handles Tellicherry corns perfectly well. I'm somewhat surprised to learn that this is a problem.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:13 PM on December 7, 2006

Peugeot (yes, that Peugeot) have a number of designs.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2006

I too have a Peugeot. It looks nice and grinds like a dream.
posted by rosebengal at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2006

I have a pre-loaded one -- it's Kirkland Select, which is their house brand. You could probably reload it.
posted by sugarfish at 12:44 PM on December 7, 2006

Crap, it's COSTCO's house brand. Sorry.
posted by sugarfish at 12:46 PM on December 7, 2006

Peugot mills are marvelous, but pricey. I grind Tellicherry in my $25 mill from Crate and Barrel with no trouble at all. I, too, am surprised to learn this is a problem.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:53 PM on December 7, 2006

I love Penzy's (spice store) - I am pretty sure they had one since they sold the mondo telicherry peppers.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2006

Just to give you a weird option, I use a marble mortar and pestle for all my spice grinding. It's slower and sometimes a bit messy, but it can handle just about anything.
posted by cardboard at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2006

I believe the pepper grinders with the toughest/best mechanism are generally considered to be those made by Unicorn . Mine can certainly handle anything I can throw at it.
posted by bcwinters at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2006

If you don't mind a really fine grind, try a Turkish coffee grinder.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2006

I actually found a cheap Peugot pepper mill at Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20.00 something, highly recommended. Good luck with them thar big ole peppercorns.
posted by mk1gti at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2006

Thank you all for your answers, even the ones who made me wonder if I was imagining a problem where none existed. The responses led me to do a little more research.

My two too-small mills are made by Peugeot, yet some of you are using Peugeots for Tellicherry with no problem. Does this mean that the peppercorns I've been buying from Penzey's for five years are abnormally large?

I looked at the Penzey's catalogue, and they do address the issue, recommending the ugly Zassenhaus grinder. Maybe Penzey's just sells the largest of the large, where pepper is concerned. Maybe it's a ruse on their part to sell those monstrous peppermills. (I doubt it; Penzey's is great in all non-Zassenhaus respects.)

This afternoon I did two things: went to the supermarket and bought a batch of Spice Islands Tellicherry, and went to the kitchen-supply store and bought a Unicorn Magnum Pepper Mill (thank you, bcwinters). I found that the new (smaller) corns work in the old Peugeot grinders, and the new Unicorn Magnum pulverizes the mondo Penzey's corns at an amazing rate. That truly is an excellent mill for people who use a lot of pepper. It doesn't do too well at fine grinding, so I'll probably end up getting a Turkish coffee grinder one of these days, as well.
posted by wryly at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2006

You might be overpacking your mills. From experience, I've found mills will work better if half-filled. As the corns are broken down, debris will accumulate and jam the gearing; tilting the mill upside-down, or gently shaking it back and forth can loosen any partially-broken chunks which may block the gears. Tapping the mill lightly on a napkin afterwards usually frees any remaining material, leaving the mill to do its work again.

If used frequently enough, you may want to remove the corns every three months, so as to clean out the gearing as best as possible.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:42 AM on December 8, 2006

I almost forgot: before removing the corns, place a tea strainer over an empty glass. As you clear out the mill, you should notice a fair amount of broken corns and ground pepper that may have blocked the gears.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:52 AM on December 8, 2006

jacquilynne is right, the Ikea spice/pepper mill mechanism is fantastic. This one, at $10.99 CAD, also happens to have a clear base, so you can tell what's in it. May not be available in the USA though, because I couldn't find it on the American site.
posted by Chuckles at 9:13 PM on December 8, 2006

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