The Coffee Grinder Ina Garten Uses For Her Homemade Spice Blends

Passionate home cooks often turn to Ina Garten for the best cooking tips and kitchen product suggestions. Fortunately, the iconic celebrity chef shares her favorite recipes, as well as her top equipment preferences, on her Barefoot Contessa website. Everything from her choice of stainless steel mixing bowls to her favorite brand of pots and pans finds its way into countless kitchens, with home chefs eager to cook just like their culinary idol.

There are certain kitchen tools Garten always keeps handy, and a Krups coffee grinder is one of them. However, she uses it for something other than coffee beans: Garten turns to this particular gadget to grind her homemade spice blends. The simple, one-touch design of this appliance can pulverize not only coffee and spices, but also nuts and herbs using its large grinding capacity. The best part is, this gadget won't break the bank, since it retails for under $20. If you've never taken a moment to grind your own whole spices or create handcrafted spice blends, this might be your sign to start. It's a simple yet effective way to bring fresh and custom flavors to any meal.

Why it's worth it to grind your own spices

While purchasing pre-mixed spice blends at the store may be convenient, grinding your own spices offers several advantages. First, there's the freshness factor. It's impossible to know how long a container of ground spices has been sitting on store shelves, but when you grind your own, you release their aromatic oils, which are full of flavor. The problem is that over time, these oils begin to break down and lose their potency, which means your dish will taste less vibrant if you go the pre-ground route. Ultimately, there's also an economic benefit to buying whole spices and grinding them at home — they'll last longer, and you won't find yourself needing to discard and replace the pre-ground stuff as frequently.

Finally, grinding your own spices gives you the ability to customize the blend for any dish or occasion. If you prefer a stronger hint of pepper, you can add a bit more. If cumin is too overpowering for your taste, you can reduce the amount of seeds in the mix. Creating homemade spice blends is also a fun activity, and storing them in decorative jars makes for charming gifts.

Clean your grinder properly to keep it in top condition

Both coffee and whole spices release oils that can accumulate on the blades and bowl over time after being ground, infusing your coffee or cuisine with a rancid taste. To prevent this, it is important to clean the grinder frequently. 

It is imperative not to scrub down your grinder with soap and water, as this can cause the blades to rust over time. There are specific coffee grinder cleaning tablets on the market; however, there is a much cheaper and more convenient method that works just as well. You can actually clean your coffee grinder with uncooked rice. Simply place about a quarter cup of rice into the grinder's bowl, and grind for one minute. During this time, the oils will start to adhere to the rice flour dust instead of the appliance components. Remove the remaining rice from the bowl, and wipe it with a paper towel. This method will prep your grinder for the next job, and keep it in top shape for years to come.