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Does grinding your own pepper really make that much of a difference?

Yes, it really does! And the freshness of the peppercorns makes a big difference as well. Tell me if this sounds familiar: my first experience with fresh-ground pepper was at Thanksgiving, when my parents would get the old heirloom pepper grinder out and put it on the table, then they would look through the spice cabinet and find a jar of peppercorns (that had been there for several years) and fill up the grinder. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about; it seemed the same as the everyday stuff to me. The point is: most of us have never really experienced real fresh-ground pepper, or any fresh spices at all for that matter! We just use whatever we have in the good-old spice cabinet, however long it’s been sitting there, and who knows how long it sat around in warehouses and grocery stores before that?

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