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Nobody wants to be one of those people who gets torched on Instagram for posting a boring, colorless chicken breast and calling it “dinner.” And, if you’re an aspiring home chef, one of the easiest ways to elevate your meals is to add plenty of seasoning — specifically, fresh seasoning. While there’s certainly a time and place for pre-ground nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, and other delicious spices, the freshly ground stuff is almost always more flavorful. One nearly ubiquitous seasoning ingredient that’s also one of the most overlooked finishing touches to everyday meals? Black pepper.
Now, pre-ground pepper is fine in a pinch, but the issue is that it starts to oxidize and lose flavor as soon as it’s ground, which means if you’ve been sprinkling from the same old shaker you got when you moved into your home, you’re likely missing out on lots of its taste and nutritional benefits. A simple and effective way to (literally) spice up nearly all of your savory meals is investing in a solid pepper grinder. My choice? OXO’s Contoured Mess-Free Pepper Grinder.
First off, this thing is sleek, its neutral colors match pretty much any kitchen or tablescape, and it takes up almost no space on my countertop. The design is genius, too: Unlike most grinders, this one dispenses from the top, which means you won’t have to constantly wipe off pepper crumbs from your counters. You can also move the adjustable tab to change your grind size from coarse to fine, depending on your preference. Oh, and it’s made from non-corrosive ceramic, so the actual grinding mechanism won’t absorb flavors or odors from whichever spices you decide to pop in there, and the clear acrylic body makes it easy to see when it’s time to add more whole spices.
Personally, I sprung for this bad boy after reading somewhere that some disposable supermarket grinders can shed microplastics into your food, and since I probably get more than my daily requirement of microplastics living in the city, I figured I shouldn’t take my chances. However, the best part of snagging a solid pepper grinder — in my opinion — is being able to buy a big ol’ tub of whole peppercorns in bulk, and refill my grinder for a fraction of the price of what it would cost to constantly buy disposable mills.
And, listen: I’m not telling you to go out and get the fanciest black peppercorns from the specialty store downtown (though if you do, kudos), I’m just encouraging you to get the most out of one of what’s likely one of the most commonly used ingredients in your kitchen. To that end, you should feel free to whack whatever you want in your new pepper grinder, whether it’s coarse salt, cumin, pink peppercorns,
crushed up Doritos your own highly curated spice blend — the possibilities are endless. What’s certain, though, is that the next time a recipe calls for finishing with “freshly ground black pepper,” you’ll be able to oblige in style.