We are a group of friends that love cooking, and we love to discover how to make our food taste better. We started this blog as a way to share the delicious things that we find.
We hope you enjoy our recipes, tips and tricks for using spices in cooking, and reviews of new products.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. When I started this thing I figured I would do it as a way to document my kitchen experiments and share what I’ve learned. As things progressed, I found that my favorite part of the process was finding new spices. So in the beginning of this year, I decided to go out and find some new ones.
I had heard about a local spice shop called Savory Spice Shop, so I went down there one day to see what they had to offer. What they had was amazing.
They have pretty much every spice you can imagine and even some you can’t. They have spices from all over the world, which means there is a lot of variety in the flavors of the spices available. It also means that many of these spices are not commonly used in cooking today.
This has been great for me because it’s allowed me to expand my horizons beyond the typical spices that people use in cooking today (cumin, paprika, etc). It’s also forced me to learn about new kinds of flavors and how to work with them in cooking.
Some of these spices are really unusual. For instance, there’s one called nigella seeds that are native to India and have a very distinct flavor that
If you’re not using fresh spices, you’re not cooking. You’re assembling.
The longer a spice sits on your shelf, the less flavor it will impart to your food. That’s why it’s important to know how long different spices last, and how to store them properly so they don’t go bad.
Not all spices are created equal, and their flavors don’t last equally long. While some spices may last for years in the pantry, others only last weeks or even days. The flavor of a spice is determined by the oils it contains, and over time these oils evaporate and get absorbed into the air around them.
Depending on the type of oil, some spices will keep their flavor better than others. For example, whole-leaf spices like bay leaves and rosemary have higher concentrations of essential oils than ground spices like black pepper and cinnamon because they haven’t been exposed as much to air during processing. This means that whole leaf spices have a longer shelf life than ground varieties (though even whole-leaf herbs can lose their potency after a year).
If you want your food to taste like food—not just an approximation of food—you need to use fresh spices and herbs in your cooking. Here’s how I do it:
It’s easy to forget that spices can have tremendous value. So much so that they were considered to be worth the same as gold in parts of history. The spice trade dominated European exploration for centuries and was a primary driver for the establishment of colonies around the world.
So what are spices?
Spices are the plant parts—typically dried—that give food an aromatic and/or savory flavor. They include seeds, bark, flowers, roots, leaves, and berries.
Spices can be used whole or ground into a powder for use in cooking or baking.
The most common spices are: allspice, anise seed, basil, bay leaves, caraway seed, cardamom, celery seed, chervil, chili powder (which is a blend of dried chilies and other ingredients), chives, cilantro (fresh coriander leaf), cinnamon (and cassia), cloves (and clove oil), coriander seed (also called cilantro seed or Chinese parsley), cumin seed (and ground cumin), curry powder (a mixture of turmeric with other spices), dill weed and dill seed, fennel seed (and pulverized fennel leaf), fenugreek seeds
Spices. You know what they are and what they do. They add that little extra something to your food. That little extra flavor, taste, aroma, etc. But why are they so expensive? Why does one little bottle cost $5-$10 dollars? And why does it seem like the only way to get them is at an over-priced spice shop?
You’re not alone in thinking these things. In fact, I have thought them myself. I have paid $10 for a bottle of sumac, $5 for a bottle of cloves and $12 for a jar of saffron. After buying these spices, I thought to myself, “There has got to be a better way.”
And there is! It’s called the bulk section of your grocery store or the bulk aisle at Whole Foods (which means you can find it at most grocery stores.) The bulk section is basically where you can buy as much or as little of anything as you want without paying for packaging and branding. You bring your own container, fill it up and check out at the regular register.
In the bulk section you can find spices like cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole nutmeg, star anise pods and many more. This means that if you
A spice is the seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish.
Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling.
Spices are sometimes used in religious rituals, cosmetics or perfume production. Some spice substances have a long history of interaction with humans: cloves probably date back to the early Neolithic period (9000 BCE), while other spices like cinnamon and pepper were known far earlier to ancient cultures in China and India. The use of spices enabled trade along the Arabian Peninsula, Indian Ocean and Spice Routes by antiquity.
The word spice comes from the Old French word espice (which became epice), which became the Latin root species which means kind.
Finding just the right spice for the job can be tricky, but the results are well worth it.