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A peppermill, or pepper grinder, is a must-have tool in the kitchen.  Freshly ground pepper is to ground and bottled pepper as fresh pressed garlic is to dried and ground garlic, that is, flat and wholly lacking in intensity.  Fortunately, grinding fresh pepper is a lot easier than peeling, cutting and pressing whole garlic.  All you need to do is to add a peppermill to your kitchen counter top and keep it filled with whole pepper corns. 

I've gone through maybe four peppermills over the years.  They either wear out or get too grungy.  Peugeot, in France, has always made the best selling milling mechanisms and many manufacturers use them.  They work fine but are not precisely adjustable.  The one I just tossed out had a Peugeot mill that wore out only because the no-name manufacturer misaligned it, with the result that it ground itself up. 

Now there is a better peppermill out there or, at least, a new peppermill of choice.  Cooks Illustrated did a review of kitchen peppermills awhile back and found the Unicorn's Magnum Plus was the clear winner with a superior range of grinds, large capacity and "blinding speed." 

So, I got one last week. 

It is a very good peppermill, the best I've ever used.  It holds a half cup of pepper corns and, when loaded, has good heft and balance.  The grind is easily adjustable from medium-fine to course, by means of a thumb screw on the bottom. They are made in Nantucket by Tom Davis, Inc. As the photo shows, they come in a range of models from the large Magnum Plus, to medium sized ones that take a quick-draw holster for restaurant wait staff, to a pocket sized mill for pepper addicts.  All of them use Italian milling mechanisms.  The big one goes for $45.00 with the lowest shipping and handling fee ($4.00) I've seen in years.  They sell direct at 

Over the years, an annoying design problem with the housing has surfaced.  Namely,  the door collar that opens and closes the peppercorn refill and storage tank, opens clockwise.  So, while turning the top clockwise to grind pepper, the door collar beneath it works itself open with the annoying result that pepper corns spill out into your sauce, stew or the floor. Why the Unicorn  people can't redesign the collar to open counterclockwise remains a mystery.  There is a plastic détente that adds friction to the collar, but it wears smooth over a short period of use.

Last week, while The Little Woman was grinding a generous portion of Ecuadorian pepper into her cubed pork verde stew, the peppermill door opened and out came a bunch of peppercorns that got lost in the stew.  Maybe you can bite into a tellicherry peppercorn now and then but the ones from Ecuador, which I buy from the Spice House people and keep in the small mill, are very authoritative.  Like:  Wow! TLW was not amused:  "How long do we have to put up with this?"  "Do something." 
"OK."  Please note in the photo the tiny stainless screw that I installed in each peppermill to keep the darn door closed.  Works fine.  Once tapped, the screw backs out easily with a proper sized screwdriver.
Problem solved.


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