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There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.
Melanie Yates, a home cook who loves freshly ground spices — but not buying disposable grinders
Clearly, I am a spice novice. Most of the spices I own come in little grinders from the supermarket, and I can't imagine that the quality or sourcing of these spices has been the best. While I'm not about to dispose of what I already own, moving forward, I'd like to move my spice cabinet in the direction of containing more whole spices bought in bulk, if possible, from fair-trade purveyors.
Concurrently, my search for my first real spice mill was spurred by learning that those same individual grinders found in grocery aisles are, in fact, not meant to be refillable. This inconceivable wastefulness is not lost on intrepid DIYers, who offer plenty of methods and tips on how to pry them open. Attempt this at your own risk — let's just say that I should've worn my trusty cut-resistant gloves during my unsuccessful effort.
Is there an easier way? Oh yeah. The FinaMill Spice Grinder provides everything that you'd expect from a battery-powered pepper mill — plus, you can actually swap out the spices that you grind with it.
The FinaMill stands 9 inches tall, is made of plastic, and comes in white, black, and red. It has just one big power button, and when pressed, immediately begins to grind the spices within the pod (aka the FinaPod) while shining a light down on your plate. The pods themselves are made of BPA-free plastic, though their grinding mechanisms are made of ceramic.
I think the FinaPods are the most unique feature and the selling point of this device. The FinaMill comes with two pods to start with, but you can buy any number of add-on pods for about $9 each and refill them endlessly with any type of whole spice. You can even choose between six different degrees of fineness for each of your spices.
The all-white FinaPods that come with the FinaMill set are best for spices like pepper and salt, while the yellow pods that are sold separately can also grind spices with higher oil content like mustard and sesame seeds. The brand is even launching a FinaPod specifically to grind dried herbs later this year.
To change the pods out, quickly press down and release the FinaMill on any surface, and the pod will pop out, then do the same motion with a new pod. Unlike using a mortar and pestle or another type of spice grinder, there's no cleaning out or cross-contamination to be concerned with.
Though incredibly easy and straightforward to use with its one-handed operation, there are some drawbacks to the FinaMill. First, this is a three-AA-battery-powered device, not a rechargeable one, which is a headache. (According to the brand, they are in the process of developing a USB-rechargeable model.) Also, in terms of eco-friendliness, while there are no disposable parts of the FinaMill, a completely plastic-free alternative would be to get a mortar and pestle, which you can use to grind any number of spices (plus herbs and other ingredients), though not quite as efficiently. Finally, I wish the pods were stackable, because they would be so much easier to store.
Closing Argument: If your spice rack already runneth over, it might complicate things too much to add a new gadget to your life. But ultimately, I think the FinaMill Spice Grinder is best if you, like me, have a relatively small but steadily growing collection of spices that you want to grind in a simple way to flavor your food.
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