Spices are a key ingredient in many recipes, but they can be difficult to grind without the right tools. In this post, I show you one way to grind spices by hand using only three everyday kitchen items—no spice grinder or mortar and pestle required!
MY TIP: Many Czech recipes, such as pork roast, call for crushed caraway seeds. Following the steps below is the quickest way to get some!
➜ Tools you need
- Parchment paper; the one you use to line a baking sheet when making cookies. You don't need a whole sheet; just a rectangular piece about 10x20 inches (25x50 cm)will do. Fold the paper in half so that it is roughly square.
- Wooden rolling pin; works best for me. If you don't have a wooden rolling pin, another blunt, heavy object such as a meat tenderizer mallet or the bottom of a cast iron pan will serve as a great makeshift mortar and pestle.
- Sturdy cutting board; as a flat surface to ensure even crushing
I crushed the cloves to a powder in this case, but you can use this method to grind any other dry spices manually, such as cardamom, fennel seeds, allspice, pepper, coriander, cumin, or anise seeds.
⇢ Learn more about herbs and spices used in Czech cuisine
➜ Grinding spices by hand
STEP 1: Put the spices in the space between the folded baking paper, close to the spot it was folded. Place the paper containing the spices onto the cutting board.
STEP 2: Use a wooden rolling pin to pound on the place where the spices are placed in the paper. Don't be afraid to use a little force to make sure the spices are well crushed. Keep the ends of the paper pressed together with your hand to prevent the spices from jumping out.
During the pounding process, take one or two breaks to carefully open the paper and gently shake the spices, then cover the paper and continue pounding. This gives a finer and more even grinding of the spices.
Once you've been grinding for two minutes, the job is complete; fresh spices now ready to use in your recipe!
TIP: If you want a fine powder, sift the crushed spices through a coarse mesh sieve.
This method is great if you need to grind smaller amounts of spices. If you want to grind a lot of spices or cook spicy food often, you should invest in kitchen tools such as an electric spice grinder or a coffee grinder.
Once you're done using the spice grinder, it's important to give it a thorough cleaning to get rid of the spices' aroma and get it ready for your next task.