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Fat Guy

Pepper and Salt Mills/Grinders

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So, what do you think?

I've been stupid about pepper mills. I've always refused to pay a lot for a good one, so I've bought a dozen bad ones. I'm ready to shell out for one that will last and last, and perform well.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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For years we used a Mr. Dudley of the classic "would you like fresh ground pepper on that, ma'am" style.  It was okay, but it choked on big tellicherry peppercorns and didn't hold its grind adjustment very well.

So last year I replaced it with a Unicorn Magnum, which addressed all my complaints.  It's got a great mechanism.  Wide circle, which means a fast grind and pretty much impossible to jam.  The grind adjustment is on the bottom, so you don't lose your grind setting when you refill.  Refilling is incredibly simple--you fill it on the side, and it holds a lot.  And it comes with a little plastic base so you don't get pepper on your shelf.

Downsides:  it's acrylic, and I'm afraid I'm going to melt it someday.  On the other hand, I never left Mr. Dudley on the stove over the course of six years.  And no snooty waiter would be caught dead carrying this thing--it basically looks like a stubby black cylinder.

I have no idea how the Unicorn will hold up over time, but I've enjoyed using it in the kitchen so far and it feels pretty solid.  It's ำ I'm not sure about the warranty.  There's also a bigger version (the Magnum Plus) with the same mechanism for โ  unless you use an enormous amount of pepper, I don't see the point of the big one.

Cook's Illustrated recommended this mill twice in a row, but that's not why I got it.  I got it because I used to work in a kitchen store where we sold literally dozens of different pepper mills from the traditional to the stupid, and this was the one that felt best in my hand.  I sold scores of them and never saw one come back.

Of course, maybe they were afraid to return them to me because I had the key to the knife case.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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You can even get that Unicorn Magnum with a holster:

holster.gif

http://www.peppergun.com is the site for the company.

I think I'll wear that around, pepper mill on one side, cell-phone on the other.

Actually, that photo reminds me of my one foray into modeling. I once posed for a photograph of a pager on my belt. It appeared in the New York Post.

Hey, did we have this discussion before? I distinctly remember Varmint posting somewhere that he uses a Turkish coffee grinder or something for this. Or have I lost my mind?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven, I got a Unicorn Magnum to churn out pepper in quantity for spice rubs - it delivers a lot with each turn, and the grind is easily adjusted.  Now it's the mill I always reach for.  It's a workhorse, and a pleasure to use.  

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My vote goes to the metal Perfex from France--which weighs in at a pleasantly solid 8.25 ounces unfilled.  I've used mine continuously for 20 years--there is no substitute for experience over time--it's easy to change out peppercorns and easy to change grind settings.

For larger ground spice applications I use an amazing, powerful Indian spice grinder by Sumeet:

http://www.sumeet.net/

which makes quick work of whole nutmeg, stick cinnamon, peppercorns, seeds, nuts--either wet or dry. (A little over 贄 at JB Prince in NYC.)

And Steven, where's your Palm or Visor?  or are you going to the Treo when it's available?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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The Peugot pepper mill.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/cat....PR%20p1

Shown here is also a salt grinder but I think that's pointless.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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As far as pure performance is concerned (i.e., the ability to grind pepper quickly with minimal effort), I've found that nothing beats a brass Turkish coffee grinder.  This tool can grind tablespoons of fairly finely ground pepper in seconds, without a lot of effort.  The hinged handle gives you plenty of torque to grind easily.  Moreover, you avoid the mess of pepper "crumbs" collecting on a counter, as the grinding mechanism sits on a reservoir base.  This base is also great when you want to grind several teaspoons at a time, as you grind right into the base.

The downside of this mill is that it isn't the most stable gadget in the world.  It tends to fall over from time to time, which may deter some folks from putting it on the table.  Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade it for any other grinder.

I think these grinders are quite common, so finding them should be easy.  What I can't say, however, is whether all grinders work as well as mine.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Surprisingly, IKEA makes a great peppermill. They had some plastic bowling pin shaped ones that were only ů, so I picked up a few for extras -- to take in a picnic basket or a traveling cooking kit. I was really surprised to find how well they work. They have a ceramic adjustable grinder, and when I tested the output against my Alessi stainless grinder  the IKEA produced 3X as much with the same amount of grinding. The only drawback was the small capacity. When I went back to get more (for other spices) I found that they don't make that model anymore, but now they're making a new kind -- you get a glass jar with the same ceramic grinder, then you can get extra lidded jars for other herbs, so you can just swap the grinder. Still just seven bucks or so, less for the plain jars! Can't say how long they'll last, but the original plastic ones are 3 years old and doing fine.

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I use an Olde Thompson mill with a ceramic grinder that is supposedly warrantied for life.

I've always wondered about those lifetime warranties on things.  I pictured bringing the peppermill back after 10 years and the grinder has worn out:

Me: "I'd like to get the grinder for this replaced as per the warranty?"

Rep: (Looks closely at the peppermill) "How long you had this?"

Me: "Oh, about 10 years"

Rep: "Well sorry, you'll have to buy a new one."

Me: "But it had a lifetime warranty!  I've got it right here!"

Rep: "Sorry, but the lifetime of this model is only 8 years..."


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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We seem to go through a lot of pepper mills (crap grinding mechanism). I'm now looking at a Peugeot. Any experience with this or other models?


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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I bought a Peugeot about five years ago, when I needed a grinder for work. It's been great. I only use it at home now, so I figure it will last forever. What I especially like is that when I change the guage of the grind with the little screw at the top, it HOLDS until I'm ready to change back again.

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We've got three Peugeot mills. We've had them for a long time. The oldest, I think it's the oldest, has the stem held in place by a fat piece of metal that makes it hard to load the corns into the body of the mill. The two newer ones have a wire device that is totally nonobstuctional. It appears they've corrected a design flaw a long time ago.

One is used for black peppercorns every day. One holds wihite peppercorns and is hardly used. I think my wife has forgotten we ever decided to have one with white peppercorns. The third one is used for miscelaneous spices. Everything we grind in there comes out tasting like miscelaneous spice. :biggrin: Well at least the first few seeds do. It's rarely used and then for cloves or allspice. It also broke. I mean the actual wood body cracked along a fault in the grain. I glued it back together. If it was used with any regularity, I would have replaced it. The burr, or the actual grinding heads seem so much better than any other grinder we've seen and I like the classic desgn which to me says "peppermill" so well that I wonder why anyone ever made another one. We also have a matching salt grinder which has stanless burrs specially made for salt. The salt grinder is an affectation as freshly ground salt is no tastier than two week old salt, but it gives us a matching pair.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I am a true destroyer of pepper mills. Bought an inexpensive Peugeot last year and have been very pleased. (Occasionally it seems to dislike certain peppercorns and not grind properly, just spinning in place. Is this the size of peppercorn or what?)

I've noticed some people also recommend the Zassenhaus mills you can order through Penzey's but I've haven't tried those yet.

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Suzanne, Bux, Andrew--

Thanks. Looks like a Peugeot it is. The owner of the newly opened kitchen supply place in the neighborhood assures me that the manufacturer will replace the grinding mechanism free of charge if it does break, although I haven't checked the fine print. There's nothing quite like a quality gadget, is there?


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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I have a peugeot peppermill I got on reccomendation from a local chef. He has used his day in and day out for a long long time. It is scorched on one side from stove heat. They have a lifetime warranty and the company is supposed to be excelent to deal with if you ever need a replacement.

I love my mill, it works perfectly everytime and puts out a very predictable amt of pepper. I have never had any problems with it.

Ben


Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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I've noticed some people also recommend the Zassenhaus mills you can order through Penzey's but I've haven't tried those yet.

I have one of these that was part of a gift package from Penzey's. It works very well and is easy to handle. Grind adjustable with screw at the top. Pretty straightforward.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I have four or five mills, none of which work very well. I got to wondering what my Mom had, since hers is at least twenty years old, beat all to hell and still works beautifully. So I just called her and asked. Peugeot.

Does anyone have experience with the Magnum?

It's highly recommended by Cook's Illustrated and Alton Brown.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The third one is used for miscelaneous spices. Everything we grind in there comes out tasting like miscelaneous spice.  :biggrin:

hehe. bux made a funny. :laugh:

i've had a peugeot for about 7 years now. mine's about 8 inches. it gives me good control over the coarseness of grind, although the nut on top can be a bit of a hassle if you don't hold onto it when filling the thing.

i should add that i'm a bit of a pepper freak, and use it all of the time, sometimes grinding a large amount at once.


Edited by tommy (log)

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I bought a Magnum about a year ago, the larger one, and like it. It holds over a 1/4 lb. of peppercorns, grinds them really fast and has a wide range of adjustment for size of the grind. The grinding mechanism is imported from Italy. I think it cost around $45.00.

PJ


"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I still worship my Turkish coffee grinder that I use as a pepper mill. It grinds more pepper in less time than anything else I've tried. Plus, it sits in a base that collects all the excess ground pepper.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Does anyone have experience with the Magnum?

It's highly recommended by Cook's Illustrated and Alton Brown.

Yup, I have one of the mid-sized ones, and it's fantastic. Holds a boatload of peppercorns, grinds effortlessly, turns out a ton of pepper per twist and has yet to bind up. I can't say enough good about it.

Of course, this is in home use. Heavy duty home use, but still not the sort of abuse it might see in a professional kitchen. Still, I have a hard time imagining how you could break one. You'd have to really work at it.

One day, when I'm cool enough, I might get the hip holster for it. That'd be too cool. :cool:

Chad


Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Got the Peugeot and filled it. Works beautifully and has an impressive heft. Thanks for the advice.


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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Chrome. They had some in wood, but they looked a little cheesy.


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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