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What Makes A Good Peppermill?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I see peppermills that range from th $20's up to the $100's. Besides differences in size, what would justify such a dramatic difference in price? I'm a regular watcher of Emeril Live and I notcie he uses a peppermill shaped like a wine bottle which is pretty interesting.
I'm just looking for some suggestions for the casual cook.
post #2 of 12
The best peppermill I have ever used, which was also rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated, is the Unicorn Magnum. They're expensive, $35 for the small one and $45 for the big one, but you could season Wisconsin in the time it takes to saute shrimp. Seriously, the dispersal rate is awesome. Look for it online.

Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
post #3 of 12
What matters in a pepper mill is the grinding mechanism. IMHO you can forget all the fancy designer mills and go for the traditional wood mill. Pugeot were making pepper mills long before they started making cars and their mechanism is virtually indestructable. I swear by mine. Also get a tall one - at least 10". The really short ones need to be filled every 5 minutes and are OK for the table but much harder to handle in the kitchen than the tall ones.

I got some organic pepper corns once and they wouldn't grind in the mill. I thought at first that the mill was defective but then I noticed that the organic pepper corns were much larger than the conventional pepper corns. They were just too big to get into the burr grinder.

post #4 of 12
The most important thing for me is speed. So I go for ones with winding handles. These pump out pepper much quicker. Some "knob" style ones are so slow its a joke and are only suitable for the table. I can't think of the brand of my current one but its great. Stainless steel and made in the USA.
I looked for a decent electric one once , but nothing I saw looked any good.

Secondly I always look for metal grinding parts.
post #5 of 12
The very expensive ones are usually hand-crafted from exotic woods. They can be very beautiful, but that doesn't mean they are any good. As stated above, the important thing is the grinding mechanisim. Really cheap peppermills have cheap grinders, made with with inferior steel and inferior craftsmanship. A good, well made will set you back at least $30-40, but again, you can spend upwards of $200-300 to get a really cool one, made from some tree that was harvested in deepest africa, by native people.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the imput. I'm definitely looking for substance over style. I just want something that is going to be reliable. I've seen a few on cooking.com and chefscatalog.com.
post #7 of 12
As stated above, check the grinding mechanism. Avoid if made of plastic.

You want stainless steel or ceramic. The Peugeot or Magnum are going to be consistent in high quality. I've seen and purchased Peugeots from TJ Maxx for far less than retail with no defects and they're still as good as the first grind.

There are existing peppermill threads on this if you search the forums.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the insight. I think I'm going to go with the Peugeot over the Unicorn simply because I prefer the look of the wood mill.
I've narrowed it down to 2 choices:

My question is what would be the preference in size? Other than being able to hold more peppercorns would I be unhappy with the smaller size?
post #9 of 12
MarkV, does Wisconsin need to be peppered?! :p

I, myself, feel I'm perfectly seasoned.
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post #10 of 12
It is purely a matter of personal preference as to the size of the mill. IMHO (and within reason) bigger is better. I certainly wouldn't go below the 8.75" model shown in the link.

However, that's just me. If I were you I would go to the local store and handle a few to see what you like the best.

As to Pinot's comment about volume, it is true that this type of mill does not produce a lot of pepper without a lot of effort. But in the home kitchen I find it is enough. Another drawback to this model is the smooth wood top that can be difficult to turn if your hands are wet or greasy. I personally don't mind that inconvenience and I love my pepper mill - smooth top and all :)

If I need a lot of pepper I just throw a handfull of corns in the spice mill and grind them up faster than any manual mill.

post #11 of 12
ceramic grinder is best if your going to use it for sea salt cause it will eat away stainless steel in no time. I have 2 i bought at Walmart for $6 on my table for pepper & sea salt. I grind both mix blend and white peppercorns in my KitchenAid coffee grinder and store them in small ceramic caninsters on my stove shelf for cooking :chef:
post #12 of 12
Hi all,

I've currently got an inexpensive pepper grinder, which I'm not entirely happy with. It has got all metal grinding mechanism which does fine on a course grind.

But there are two things that I'm disappointed with. I don't have a consistent grind. Once I pick the desired setting for the pepper grind the pepper mill will slip out of adjustment (to a larger grind) while I'm grinding a good amount of pepper.

My other problem is with a fine grind. The pepper mill seems to have trouble making a nice fine grind. The peppercorns just don't seem to fall down into the teeth.

Are these two problems I'm having something that can be corrected by a better pepper mill?


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