Top Tips for Cleaning Your Spice and Coffee Grinders

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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.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder
How to Clean a Spice 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.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder
How to Clean a Spice Grinder

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.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder on Food52
How to Clean a Spice Grinder on Food52

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.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder
How to Clean a Spice Grinder

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.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder
How to Clean a Spice Grinder

And just like that, you have a sparkly new spice grinder (or coffee grinder), ready to go to town on your peppercorns.

How to Clean a Spice Grinder
How to Clean a Spice Grinder

Faulknerian Family Spice Cake, with Caramel Icing

1/2 pound butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening)
cups sugar
cups flour
teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace (don’t leave this out)
1/2  teaspoon allspice
1/4  teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
cup plus 2 tbsp milk
teaspoon vanilla

  1. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients, twice. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Add vanilla. Bake in a greased floured tube pan at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake tests for doneness. Serve with caramel icing.
  3. Make Caramel Icing: in a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter; stir in 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup cream. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Return to heat and bring to boil for 1 minute. Let the mixture cool. Beat in 2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Save and print the recipe on Food52

Photos by James Ransom

This article originally appeared on How to Clean a Spice Grinder (or Coffee Grinder)