2022-06-10 20:41:52 By : Ms. Sunny Liang

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Several months ago my husband and I noticed our salt mill wasn’t exactly doing its job. Because it has literally one job, this was worrisome. If you really put your wrist into it, you’d get something onto your food, eventually. But the amount of salt and its texture were a total crapshoot. Despite adjusting the grinder this way and that—looser/coarser, tighter/finer—it was stubbornly unwilling to respond. Cleaning the thing, we hoped, might solve the issue.

Our salt and pepper grinder set, a version of Peugeot’s classic Nancy design, was a gift for our wedding back in 2013. That’s eight years—what could probably be considered middle-age for many kitchen tools. The fact that we haven’t properly cleaned these things in eight years is a little shameful but probably not all that uncommon. And after so many seasons of Midwestern humidity and steamy moments next to the stove, all that accumulated moisture wasn’t doing our salt grinder any favors. Our pepper mill, oddly, was fine. The salt grinder, though, required surgery. The following procedure should be effective for both kinds of mills.

Most mills are built with steel grinding mechanisms held in place with a set of miniature screws. Peugeot uses two Phillips-head screws that are best removed with a manual Phillips screwdriver, though a flathead could work in a pinch. Just be sure to do your disassembling away from the kitchen sink and keep your parts organized so you can confidently reassemble your mill post-cleaning.

Though I’m typically a huge fan of vinegar for cleaning just about anything in the kitchen, it shouldn’t be necessary for your mills. All you really need is warm, soapy water. The steel grinding mechanisms should only need a quick rinse to be rid of residual salt or pepper, so don’t overthink it. I gave my salt mill’s acrylic body a good scrub with a mesh dish cloth, working the cloth into the nooks and crannies both inside and out. Give everything a final rinse before setting out to dry. No one wants salt that tastes like soap residue.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of letting your mill and its parts dry completely before reassembly. In other words, don’t clean your grinder in preparation of hosting a big dinner party the same night. Towel-drying to save time might work, but if you reassemble the mill with any residual moisture, you’re right back where you started.

That’s it. Once the cleaning is completed, top off your mills with salt and fresh peppercorns and let the pleasure of that first grind sink in. Personally, I couldn’t believe the beautiful variation in grinding that my trusty mill was capable of after cleaning. The fine was so fine! The coarse was so coarse! Imagine that: a grinding mill reborn, once again worth its salt.

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