I was grocery shopping at Whole Foods and I noticed the spice rack. A lot of the spices were ridiculously expensive, like $10 for a jar of cinnamon. Are you getting ripped off? How can you tell if you’re getting ripped off? What does a normal spice jar look like?
This is what the normal spice jars look like:
When it comes to spices, you can easily get ripped off. When shopping for any kind of spice, be sure they are in a glass jar, not a dark plastic container. Buy in bulk if possible.
Always check the expiration date on the spice itself as well as the store’s policy on returns. Some spices can go bad quickly when not stored properly.
Spices are typically sold by weight, and should have labels with that information clearly printed. Some stores have free samples to try before you buy!
“The market for spices is a very specialized area,” says Sanjay Patel, founder of the spice company Sanjay Patel Spices and Herbs. “It’s very hard to know if you’re getting a good deal or if you’re getting ripped off.”
For example, he says that a normal jar of paprika you buy in the grocery store will be 2.5 ounces. His jars are 4 ounces and they cost $5.
“You can compare it to coffee,” says Patel. “If you go to Starbucks, you get one size cup of coffee. If you go to Dunkin Donuts, you get another size cup of coffee. But both cups cost about a dollar.”
So what makes a good spice? It should smell good and taste good, says Patel. It also shouldn’t have any additives or preservatives because those things will affect the flavor of the spice as well as its shelf life. And there should be no caking agents added into the mixture, which can happen if there are any ground up seeds in the spice.
The most important thing for Patel is freshness, however. He keeps his spices in an airtight container so that they stay
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When shopping for spices, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Firstly, the price. Spices should generally be between $2 and $10, depending on how much you buy. If you are paying more than this, you should question whether or not the product is legitimate.
Secondly, the packaging. Most spices come in small plastic containers, unless you are buying them in bulk from a distributor. The containers are usually small, about 3 to 6 inches tall and 2 to 4 inches wide. If you notice that a spice is packed in a container that is either too large or too small, be aware that this may be a sign of tampering.
Thirdly and finally, the product itself. Spices can vary in color and texture significantly between brands, but if you notice something odd about the way it looks (e.g., it has particles floating inside of it), you should probably avoid eating it.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “The early bird gets the worm.” When it comes to shopping for spices, this is completely true. I have seen more worms in my day than I care to admit and when it comes to shopping for spices it’s best not to be caught with those little suckers.
In the event that you do happen across some of these little buggers, I’ve included a picture of one just below.
[insert picture of worm]
This is where I usually start my search for insects before I purchase a spice. However, this is not a foolproof method since they can be quite small sometimes and are easily missed by the naked eye.
You may also want to take a look at the underside of the lid as well. This is where they will often hide their homes and sometimes their eggs. Also, make sure that you take a look at the bottom of the bottle because these pests like to burrow into the actual spices themselves.
Spice shopping is a lot like wine shopping; if you know what you are looking for, it can be a fun experience. But if you don’t know anything about spices, the spice aisle can be overwhelming! What kind of pepper should I buy? Is this a good deal?
To help you navigate the spice aisle, here are some tips:
1) Freshness matters. Spices lose their potency over time. If you see spices that have been sitting in a bin for months, it is likely that those spices will not add much flavor to your food. While there is no official “sell by” date on spices, most experts recommend that you replace your spices every 6 months to 1 year.
2) Look for whole spices instead of pre-ground powders. Pre-ground powders lose their flavor quickly and probably aren’t as fresh as whole spices. It is worth investing in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to grind your own spices; they will taste so much better!
3) Look for spice companies that package everything in small quantities (1/4 cup or less). If you only use a little bit of cumin every couple of months, there is no reason to buy a giant container