I’ve been in holiday cookie mode for the last three days, baking up roughly 250 cookies to distribute to unsuspecting loved ones. (Takeout coworkers, if you’re reading this, you’re not getting ANY so don’t even ASK! Okay, bye!!!) If I may say so, my mise en place has been hella tight throughout the process—with the exception of one ingredient: ground anise. I needed it for these yule log cookies, but my grocery store only carries whole anise seed, and I wasn’t about to trek across town to the spice shop or order the ground stuff from Amazon. Lucky for me, I had a life-saving tool in my kitchen: my coffee grinder.
Sure, I could have purchased a mortar and pestle or a spice mill to grind the anise seeds. But I’m clumsy and lazy, and I don’t need another piece of equipment taking up space in my kitchen, even if that space is roughly the surface area of a coffee mug. I also have a minor wrist injury at the moment, the result of lifting incredibly heavy weights (~20 pounds) in pursuit of herculean strength (being able to lift a bag of my dog’s kibble without having a stroke). No mortar and pestle for me.
Enter the best thing I own: my $20 Krups coffee grinder. This isn’t a paid endorsement; I just really like it. It’s efficient, very speedy, and way more affordable than some of the snobbier coffee equipment I’ve seen on the market. It gets the job done, whether you’re grinding coffee or anise seed.
The actual spice-grinding protocol is pretty intuitive. Just clean out your grinder (unless you want coffee-flavored spices, which could be fun?); then, measure out your spice, grind it to your desired fineness, and clean the grinder again. This last part is especially important, especially if you’re grinding a savory spice that would lend an unwelcome funkiness to your coffee. Fortunately, our friends at Lifehacker have a great guide to deep-cleaning your coffee grinder after a spice-grinding session.
The result of my experiment: a perfect little pile of finely ground anise seed. What will I grind next? Who knows. Regardless, it’s proof that you should always shoot for the moon in order to land among the star anise. Wow, sorry for that one.