Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spice Snobbery

It's easy to get used to better quality herbs and spices. If you grow your own, then you'll be committed to fresh herbs whenever possible (especially for herbs like basil). I grow several basic herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and mint) and buy the rest of my dried herbs and spices at my local food co-op. I've always bought my spices and dried herbs in bulk--places like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, the co-op, etc. It's worth it. They're cheaper and fresher. You have to transfer them to containers when you get home, but that's not a huge deal. I keep a running list of things I'm getting low on and end up buying new batches 1-2 times a year. Not a huge time commitment and a definite noticeable difference. And I only grow the easy herbs (oregano is part of the mint family, for instance, so that should tell you something about habits....).

I'm about to overhaul my whole spice system thanks to Carrie's new Tupperware job! Tupperware makes a spice carousel/spice containers that look like a good replacement option for my most used spices (AND, it's on sale RIGHT NOW). So, today, I pulled out all my spices to see what I need.... and I have a LOT of spices! Roughly 60! Who knew?!

Valiantly, I tried to get rid of some. I essentially threw away some duplicates and combined a couple of jars. What in the world do I do with all of these? Admittedly, some are very seldom used, if at all. Thankfully, most of those are in seed form instead of ground, so they stay fresh a lot longer. But, by keeping some really random spices on hand at the back of the spice cabinets, I can whip up my own seasoning mixes when I don't have something on hand that a recipe calls for. I posted my Taco Seasoning recipe earlier. In the next few weeks, I'll post some more in case you want to make your own blends, too! Instead of keeping random jars of various "dry rubs" or "grilling spices" or what have you, I keep the raw materials on hand and can whip up small amounts of stuff when we need them (or large amounts of things we use a lot). Here is the list of my spices (and you certainly don't need to rush out and buy these. Like I said, some are VERY seldom used--but that's the beauty of buying them in bulk... I can buy just a very small amount).

  • Allspice, ground
  • Allspice, whole
  • Anise seed
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Basil (dried, crushed--not ground)
  • Bay leaves 
  • Cajun seasoning*
  • Cardamom, ground
  • Cardamom, seed
  • Cardamom, whole pods
  • Cayenne
  • Celery salt
  • Celery seed
  • Chili powder*
  • Chinese 5-spice 
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cinnamon, ground
  • Cloves, ground
  • Cloves, whole
  • Coriander, ground
  • Cumin, ground
  • Cumin seed
  • Curry powder*
  • Dill 
  • Fennel seed
  • Fenugreek, ground (one of those spices I've RARELY used) 
  • Garam Masala*
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic salt
  • Ginger, ground
  • Herbes de Provence*
  • Italian seasoning*
  • Jerk seasoning*
  • Lemon pepper
  • Mace, ground
  • Marjoram
  • Mint, dried
  • Mustard seed, ground
  • Mustard seed, brown whole
  • Nutmeg, ground
  • Nutmeg, whole
  • Onion powder
  • Onion salt (THE key to a good turkey sandwich!)
  • Onions, minced, dried
  • Paprika, basic
  • Paprika, Hungarian
  • Paprika, smoked
  • Poppy seed
  • Poultry seasoning*
  • Red pepper, crushed
  • Rosemary
  • Safflower--threw it out. NEVER used it. Not once.
  • Saffron threads (hoarding these...)
  • Sage, rubbed
  • Savory, dried
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme, crushed
  • Turmeric, ground
*these are blends you can make on your own fairly easily

Whole spices like cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. are used in making Chai Concentrate and other similar things.

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