Grinding Spices: A Step-by-Step How-To

by Melanie B on Feb 19, 2021

freshly ground spices in spoons from a spice grinder

ground spices in wooden spoons from spice grinder

Chefs know the secret of using freshly ground spices in recipes. Chefs also know the flavor in spices rests in their oils. Once you use a spice grinder, the oils are released. Since these oils are volatile, you receive the most robust flavor by using the spice right away. Also, health advantages from the spice oils are best when used shortly after grinding. 

Examples of whole spices that are good to keep on hand for grinding are cloves, fennel seed, black cardamom, nutmeg, and black peppercorns. Some cooks enjoy creating their own spice mixes and keep those whole spice ingredients around. Also, check online for numerous table conversions for whole to ground spice. Here are a few conversion examples: 

  • One teaspoon of peppercorns makes one and a half teaspoons of ground pepper
  • Twelve cloves make a teaspoon of ground clove 
  • One teaspoon of fennel seeds makes one-quarter teaspoon of ground fennel
  • Half a nutmeg makes a teaspoon of ground nutmeg 
  • One teaspoon of mustard seeds makes one and a half teaspoons of ground mustard

Grinding spice is worth the effort. However, when you use an electric spice grinder like the FinaMill, there is little effort involved. The delicious results are the same as if you ground the spice by hand. 

Dry Roasting Whole Spices for Grinding 

For the most amazing results, dry roast whole spices before grinding them. It’s an easy process that takes just a few minutes. All you need to roast the whole spices is a non-stick or cast-iron pan. 

Place the whole spices on the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Set your burner on low heat and roast the spices until they are brown. It’s easy to burn the spices, so pay attention to the time. Shake the pan a couple of times while roasting to prevent the whole spices from sticking to the bottom and overcooking. 

Once the spices have cooled, it’s time to grind them up!

Non-electric Spice Grinder Options

With products like the FinaMill spice grinder being affordable and accessible, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would use any other methods. However, it’s also understandable that everyone has their personal preferences. 

Mortar and Pestle Method 

For this method, place the spice in a mortar. Be sure not to fill the bowl more than halfway with the spices. Then, hold the mortar in place with one hand, while taking the pestle in your opposite fist. Twist the pestle against the spices in the mortar. Continue twisting against the bottom and sides of the bowl to grind the spices until you achieve the desired consistency. Or, depending on the type of spice, you may use a crushing method with the pestle. 

Since you’re only able to do small amounts at a time with this method, set aside the ground spice and repeat the process until you have a sufficient amount. 

Coffee Grinder Method 

For this method, it’s best to keep a separate coffee grinder for spices. The reason is to avoid cross-contamination with coffee beans. No one wants turmeric that tastes like coffee! 

The coffee grinder method is simple: just follow the same procedure as grinding coffee beans. When the spices are ground, be sure to clean the coffee grinder completely. The cross-contamination issue is also relevant with spices. Even if there is residual spice left on the blades, it will mix with the next type of spice you grind. 

There are certainly other methods for grinding spices, such as manual twist and grind devices. However, those listed are the most prevalent for grinding whole spices. Unless, of course, you own a FinaMill spice grinder!

Using the FinaMill Electric Spice Grinder

Step 1: Place the whole spice, roasted or not, into one of the FinaMill pods. One of the unique features of the FinaMill grinder is you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. Simply grab a clean pod whenever you want to use your FinaMill spice grinder. 

Step 2: Take the FinaMill grinder and press it onto the pod. You'll feel a click when the pod is engaged and ready for grinding. 

Step 3: Before starting the grinding process, determine the level of fineness you want for the spice. Twisting the indicator on the FinaPod clockwise makes the spice finer. Also, turning the indicator counter-clockwise produces a coarser result. 

Step 4: Simply press the button on top of the FinaMill grinder and it does the work for you. When you are finished, press the pod on a hard surface. You hear a click when the pod is released. Remove the pod and dispense the spice into your recipe or dish. 

ground spices in jar from spice grinder

You can cover and store any leftover spice to use in a recipe in the next few days. Be sure to wash out the FinaMill pod so you are ready for the next time you want freshly ground spice.

Order a FinaMill spice grinder today to have on hand for the next time you cook!