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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Spice up your life -- but first, start with a clean grinder.
Where economy and luxury meet, the home cook is happy. Grinding whole spices is such a place: You can spoil yourself with flavors more pronounced than those of a pre-ground option, without any added cost.
More: Get to know our ten essential spices.
Cleaning a spice grinder can feel like a torturous chore, though -- so many nooks and crannies from which to rescue tiny bits of flavor! And if you don't clean it, you subject yourself to cooking with just one spice, or jumbling together odd combinations, and dealing with bits of months-old flavor dust.
Luckily, to clean your spice grinder, all you need is a bit of rice. This goes for coffee grinders, too, and is especially useful if you value your craft coffee and don't want any stale grinds in tomorrow's cup.
Here's how to clean an electric grider swiftly, so you can switch from cardamom to cumin with no risk of cross-contamination. After all, variety is the spice of life.
First: Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup rice into your spice grinder (or coffee grinder), then grind it for about a minute, until it looks like dust. The rice bits will both dislodge residual spices and absorb their fragrant oils, eliminating all traces of flavor.
Dump out the rice-sand, and then wipe out the remaining rice-dust with a clean, damp cloth. Make sure to mind all of the nooks and crannies; being thorough is worth it here.
And just like that, you have a sparkly new spice grinder (or coffee grinder), ready to go to town on your peppercorns.
Photos by James Ransom