Best grinding tool for herbs & twigs

I was looking at a discussion on the forum about harvesting willow in spring or fall. @jolanta.wittib mentioned drying & grinding up the finger sized branches into powder.

I know some coffee grinders are good, some food processors, some spice mills and of course, the traditional mortar & pestle.

What I want to know is a brand that is tough and does the best job. I have carpal tunnel & mortar & pestle just is not a good option for my hands & wrists. My coffee maker does some things (but is inadequate in most cases) and a hand grind coffee grinder works, but oily things are impossible to clean out (hello, cloves!).

I am looking for specific brands and I want to know what each is capable of (what it can grind, what it can't, & if it is tough) in your experience.



  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,402 admin

    Chaga is very difficult to grind. My neighbour grinds it and although I have the same tools as she does, I just get her to grind the small amount I need done. The tool? A steel plate hand mill. Similar to this one at Berry HIll but not a fancy red. :)

    I have a cheap coffee grinder (Walmart $10) that I use for nothing else besides hot peppers.

    I have a Hamilton Beach Smoothie blender, the kind that is the size for one smoothie and you can take it away in blender jug. Despite being fairly inexpensive it stands up to flax and other seeds.

    I don't think either of them would do for dried willow twigs. I have used my blender, an Osterizer, for some harder things like cinnamon but not on a regular basis.

    7Song has a short video on how he processes the willow to start with before drying. The smaller pieces would certainly be easier on any blender.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin

    Thanks @torey!

  • kfoto
    kfoto Posts: 108 ✭✭✭

    Thanks a lot @torey love the added video!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin
    edited March 2021

    Thanks, @jolanta.wittib! Unfortunately, it was not available in Canada and it sounds like the company has folded. :(

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    ive heard some people use a vita mix blender

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I use a Vitamix for cinnamon and coffee, but I'm not sure I would be chunks of wood in it. Maybe cut the finger-size branches in 1/2" pieces before they're completely dry?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin
    edited March 2021

    Cinnamon is a bark & pretty tough to do anything with.

    I recently saw the manual version of the Wondermill could do all sorts of things. Making chocolate is one and has fascinated me. But you do need a machine that cleans easily too.

    I asked them if their Jr. Mill can handle a few things that I know are tough to grind. They have a form to give suggestions to I gave 3.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have a couple of coffee grinders and a Vitamix. I'm not sure if you know but Vitamix has specific blender for grinding grains. Not sure if that could help you with some of the items you're wanting to grind. @LaurieLovesLearning

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    I have a bunch of willows and I only harvest the new spring growth and peel the bark (it actually almost slides off with a little help) and then scrape any residue green from the wood. I then chopped up the slivers into small pieces and let them dry thoroughly. Once they are dry I can easily grind them in a coffee grinder to a very fine powder if I want to. I have never heard of using the whole twig, once I peel them they go back off to the stick pile (which has also been used as a den for the critters) or to compost.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin

    @Desiree That is great information. Thanks!

    So, I guess my revised question is then about grinding things like cinnamon sticks & cloves. We have tried those, but had issues with grinding both.

  • jwellsy
    jwellsy Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    I suggest contacting At least check out their site. They have very cool stuff. It's a bit pricey. But, it's one of those you get what you pay for kinda things.

    They are very nice people and easy to get along with. IMHO they make the best manual grinders/mills. They have accessories to add a motor or a stationary bike drive.

    I bought one of their flour mills and had it engraved with "Laus Deo".

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    I use a vitamix for big jobs- it seems to work fine.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin

    Thanks, @jwellsy! I will have to check it out when I have a bit more time.

    @nicksamanda11 A lot of people seem to be really impressed with Vitamix. I do keep hearing about it.

  • berniesat
    berniesat Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    This thing will turn stones and glass bottles into powder. You just might have to do it in bursts so it doesn't overheat. ALDKitchen Grain Mill | Swing Type Grinder for Spices, Herbs, Roots | Commercial Use | Stainless Steel | 110V (400 Gr): Kitchen & Dining

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning If you have a good blender, that is enough to grind cinnamon and cloves. (You might want to break the cinnamon up if it's the hard stuff.)

    The only reason I'm not using that one right now is that I loaned it to a friend and haven't got it back yet. I prefer it to my Vitamix because it's glass and is made for the electrical current here in South America. Because of having to use a converter, I save the Vitamix for peanut butter, grains, and things that would burn the motor up on a normal blender.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin
    edited April 2021

    @Tave Thanks.

    @berniesat Thank you as well. It is great to have the knowledge of others to draw from. Welcome here.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭

    If the bark is what is needed using just bark strips might simplify grinding. My guess would be to process large materials with hand tools prior to grinding them in a suitable machine. The quoted site is using a peeling knife and scissors.

    Having a hand injury adds to the challenge. If I was in that situation of being injured, I might cut lines into the twigs and extract the components without grinding the twigs up. A hot water extraction perhaps?

    With larger materials I use a hammer and chisel to reduce the size then a grinder to make powder.

    "harvests to retard unwanted drying of bark and heat-worsened bruising. Store dried cherry bark in airtight opaque containers.


    Tools: bow saw, anvil pruner, peeling knife, scissors, bags, sheets, buckets.

    Willow bark is harvested April-July when the bark slips easily off the inner wood. This occurs because the bark must first grow to accommodate the impending centrifugal diameter growth of the tree, or it would burst, which in fact does occur to trees sometimes. Young willow sprouts 2-8 years old with only a very thin layer of corky outer bark and nice green photosynthetic cells close to the surface, 3/4-3" in diameter are cut with a hand saw from a coppiced stump, pollarded trunk or fallen tree, trimmed of smallwood and quickly stripped with the aid of a smail stripping knife. The stripped bark is quickly and lightly stuffed into clean dry 80# mesh feed bags. DO NOT STRIP BARK FROM WOOD STiLL ATTACHED TO THE TREE; CUT OFF ALL WOOD TO BE STRIPPED BEFORE STRIPPING.

    Harvest is best on a cool gray cloudy day to reduce drying of bark to wood or in bags while transporting to cutting and drying area. Willow bark peeled strips are best kept in widths of 1 inch or less as wider strips tend to curl into cylinders. The inner surfaces of curled strips may mold before totally drying. The strips are hand cut with scissors into 2-4" pieces, dried loosely on racks at 60-70oF and stored in airtight opaque containers when dry. There is some evidence that higher drying temperatures degrade some active constituents in willow bark."

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,402 admin

    Welcome to TGN's forum @berniesat.

    When you have time be sure to checkout "Our Front Porch Welcome" at:

    And the Introductions section at:

  • kfoto
    kfoto Posts: 108 ✭✭✭

    I love my vita mixer but I have a plastic container. So I scratched it while powdering lemon peel. I need to get a glass container. It did a good job. Had to shake it between blending because the powder would built at the blades. Coffee grinder not good.