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Can peppercorns go "off" (stale, rancid, spoiled)?


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My ground pepper out of two of my pepper mills (both tall classic wooden ones) smells bad -- I can't be more precisely than that. It's sort of like pepper but unpleasant smelling - and I can't figure it out.

but it's ruining dishes.

Anyone else had the same issue?

In the name of science, maybe a few of you would sniff the business end of your pepper mill and describe the scent for me/us.

We've now emptied both mills but before reloading, how would one disinfect/sanitize/deoderize a pepper mill?

Edited by pstock (log)
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If they are exposed to moisture they can rot or fungus can develop on them.

I don't keep the grinders I have near the stove (or near the sink) so they are not exposed to changes in heat or to steam, grease vapor, etc., and I have never had a problem.

Crush a few of the peppercorns themselves before you do anything drastic to the grinders.

Put large crystal salt mixed with baking soda and corn starch through the grinder - that combination will clean the burrs and the outflow mechanism.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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some (!) grinders you can also take apart, but be warned, some you can't, and some you can take apart but never put back together again. If cheap, throw out and replace, if expensive try Andie's recipe if they don't easily come apart.

Never heard of pepper going bad, but I guess mold could e an issue, but should also be easy to identify by nose. I have some peppers that are many years old (yeah yeah, I know, throw out what's not used once a year....) and they all taste fine. Probably less strong than when new, but I honestly can't tell the difference w/o comparing directly and since I'm not made of money, they stay until used up :-D

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

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some (!) grinders you can also take apart, but be warned, some you can't, and some you can take apart but never put back together again. If cheap, throw out and replace, if expensive try Andie's recipe if they don't easily come apart.

Never heard of pepper going bad, but I guess mold could e an issue, but should also be easy to identify by nose. I have some peppers that are many years old (yeah yeah, I know, throw out what's not used once a year....) and they all taste fine. Probably less strong than when new, but I honestly can't tell the difference w/o comparing directly and since I'm not made of money, they stay until used up :-D

Some peppercorns are deliberately "aged" and others are meant to be used as soon as possible but they all retain their basic flavors for a long time and in some the more subtle and "fruity" flavors become easier to taste as the pungency of the heat reduces with age.

I have green and pink peppercorns that are at least three or four years old and still have plenty of flavor. You can always crush a couple in a mortar and see how flavorful they are - or not.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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What I noticed once was that the gunk at the bottom had gotten a bit musty smelling. I keep the wooden peppermill sitting in a tiny saucer to eliminate mess. I probably ground pepper into a hot dish too often and the steam got in there and created a moist not good situation exacerbated by sitting in the suacer. As Andie noted I am now vigilant about keeping the bottom clean and dry.

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What I noticed once was that the gunk at the bottom had gotten a bit musty smelling. I keep the wooden peppermill sitting in a tiny saucer to eliminate mess. I probably ground pepper into a hot dish too often and the steam got in there and created a moist not good situation exacerbated by sitting in the suacer. As Andie noted I am now vigilant about keeping the bottom clean and dry.

I always grate pepper onto the palm of my hand and add it from there. This has the added benefit of being able to gauge how much you have added.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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One of the reasons I "graduated" to the battery-powered "dispense from the top" pepper mills was I was regularly cleaning the bottoms of the regular ones with a stiff brush and on one occasion I found a spider had taken up residence in the cavity.

I did have a nice long rectangular tray on which they lined up, and which kept the counter clean but that little visitor did make me think about what else might be living in there... My old brass ones have their own "cups" but the wooden ones do not.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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One of the reasons I "graduated" to the battery-powered "dispense from the top" pepper mills was I was regularly cleaning the bottoms of the regular ones with a stiff brush and on one occasion I found a spider had taken up residence in the cavity.

You've just ruined all pepper grinders for me with that bit of nightmare fuel...

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Don't give up on all grinders.

In this photo, the ones standing all dispense from the top - the two lying down I no longer use - the clear acrilic one is just for display with a "medley" of different colored peppercorns.

Note the hollow in the bottoms. Neither of these was the spider habitat - that one went straight into the trash (outside).

I really like the Trudeau Graviti grinders, it is very easy to change the grind from coarse to fine and back again by the top "toggle" that adjusts the mechanism.

HPIM4854.JPG

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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