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A while back we tried out Aldi’s salt and pepper grinders. We were sorely disappointed: while the salt and pepper itself was perfectly fine, the grinders themselves were a mess. One of the salt grinders and one of the pepper grinders cracked, leaving the grinder useless and almost destroying our meals in the process. We were able to salvage most of our remaining salt crystals and peppercorns, putting them in a more permanent grinder, but we’d prefer to have grinders that actually do what they claim to do.
Later on, we noticed that Trader Joe’s also sold grinders. We decided to find out if they were superior to their distant cousin.
Trader Joe’s salt and pepper grinders currently come in four varieties: Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Crystals, Trader Joe’s Pink Salt Crystals, Trader Joe’s Black Peppercorn, and Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorn.
The Salt Grinders:
The two salts cost $1.99. The sea salt is 3.88 ounces, which comes out to 51 cents an ounce. The pink salt is 4.5 ounces, which comes out to 44 cents an ounce. These prices per ounce, notably, are lower than the Aldi grinders.
I found both the sea salt and pink salt to taste identical, and once they’re ground up they look identical, too. Most pink salt comes from salt mines in the Himalayas of Pakistan. Some people like them because they have trace minerals, but there isn’t any available evidence that it is any better for you than any other kind of salt. That said, given that the pink salt is cheaper, it would seem to be the better purchase anyway. Both of course, should be consumed in moderation.
The Peppercorn Grinders:
The two peppercorns cost $2.29. Both are 1.8 ounces, which comes out to $1.27 an ounce. Like the salts, these pepper prices are lower per ounce than the Aldi grinders.
Peppercorn is a fruit that is ground up to create black pepper. Unlike the ground pepper you buy at the store, with a grinder you do the grinding. Experts argue that peppercorns hold their flavor longer than ground pepper, since the flavor is still locked inside the peppercorn. We tried this out with the Aldi peppercorns and found it to be true, and we found it to be true with these peppercorns as well. Both have a distinct pepper kick, moreso than with ground pepper.
I also found the two styles — black and rainbow — to taste by and large the same. An experienced culinary expert might have a better sense of the differences and use them in different ways.
Shoppers looking for grinders should take a look at the ones from Trader Joe’s. They’re cheaper than the ones from Aldi, and taste and operate like you’d want them to.