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Why is it better to use a pepper mill?
Not only do professionals swear by pepper mills in the kitchen. Hobby chefs and cooks of all types are increasingly using mills to spice up their dishes with pepper. But why is a pepper mill so much better than using a regular shaker? We answer that question and much more in this article.
Fresh pepper is simply unbeatable!
The main reason you may reach for a mill over a shaker is simple: They grind the peppercorns only a fraction of a second before it lands on your plate. This means that the pepper you’re adding to your dish is as fresh as it could be. When pepper is so fresh, the aromatic essential oils found in peppercorns don’t have time to dry up, which leads to that fresh peppery scent when it lands on hot food. Aside from the aroma, however, these essential oils have an interesting effect on food. Present in numerous plants, they circulate in the air when released and lead to the oft-potent aromas many herbs and spices are known for. But the really interesting part happens when you inhale them: Once they enter your nostrils, the complicated compounds that make up essential oils travel straight to the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, behaviour, motivation and — especially interesting for us — hunger. In this sense, your sense of smell is a much stronger driver of appetite than the route via the tongue, and forms the backbone of your ability to taste. Therefore, whether black, white, red or green, freshly ground pepper from a pepper mill provides an almost unbeatable contribution to how you perceive the taste of your food.
Fresh pepper is best used when cooking!
Adding too much pepper to your dish happens to all of us at some time or another. Especially when using a shaker, it’s almost impossible to control just how much comes out. And the bad news is simple: Too much pepper? Unlucky. Like adding too much salt, there’s practically nothing you can do to save a dish that’s had too much pepper added to it. The only thing you can do is be more careful with your application, something that is only really afforded by a pepper mill. To control the flow, a good rule of thumb is to move the grinder in quarter-rotations. This restricts the amount of pepper dumped onto your dish. If you’re using an electronic mill, just press and release the button to get the same result.
The grind levels are often adjustable
So you can regulate the amount and coarseness of the pepper you add to your dishes, most pepper mills are also adjustable. This allows you to increase or decrease the grind level to get finer or thicker grains of pepper. Each pepper mill is different, however, and how you adjust the grind level on your pepper mill might not be immediately clear. Often you’ll find a ‘crown’ at the tip of the mill that you can twist to make the grind finer or thicker. Alternatively, many mills come with a ring that you can turn to adjust the grind level. Thanks to this technology, the grinding level is also much easier to control and almost always remains constant. You don’t need to worry about your grind level changing over time! Additionally, many pepper mills also come with set levels that you can adjust to your preferences and save them for easy access. This tends to be the case even with the single-use mills you can get at the supermarket.
Pepperworld’s last word on pepper mills
Thanks to the essential oils in pepper that get released when it’s ground using a pepper mill, dishes get an injection of freshness that can improve the taste. When you’re looking to buy a pepper mill, it’s important that you choose one in the right size, however, so that you’re able to properly wield it and make the most out of the mill in the long-run. Get a good one and you’ll use it regularly, improving the taste of practically every dish you prepare. Get one that’s too big or too small and you’ll resent having to use it. With a pepper mill, it’s also much easier to regulate the amount of pepper you add to dishes at a time, especially due to the adjustable settings. Just inform yourself about how the settings of your specific pepper mill can best be adjusted, and play around with the grind level a little before putting it to its first use.