Chefs are aware that spices enhance flavor and enhance the world’s palate. Without the flavor of cumin in Texas chili, golden turmeric in chicken tikka masala, or cinnamon in apple pie, where would we be? However, a lot of home chefs prefer to shy away from utilizing spices because they are unsure of how to utilize them most effectively. The good news is that you may easily combine the robust tastes of spices into easy-to-prepare foods by following a few basic techniques. Now let’s get going.

What Constitutes a Spice?

Since spices are sealed in jars, it might be difficult to determine their strength and scent at the point of sale. However, once opened, spices should smell robust and have a vivid color. Their color and flavor get drab with age due to oxidation. To determine how long the spices will stay, check the jars’ expiry dates. However, keep in mind that most ground spices lose their best quality after six months of storage. To use up spices fast, it’s better to buy the least quantity possible of ground spices.

Because the oils and taste rapidly evaporate once crushed and exposed to air, whole spices will keep for three times longer than ground spices. It is recommended to buy certain spices whole and grind them on a fine grater, such as a microplane, each time you use them, like nutmeg. Just as freshly ground coffee is usually the most delicious, so too are whole black peppercorns when it comes to spices.

How to Keep Spices in Storage

With the right maintenance and storage, you can extend the freshness of your spices even if their taste and quality may deteriorate with time. To make sure your spices last as long as possible, heed these five suggestions.

  1. While spices seem lovely in transparent glass jars on your windowsill, they preserve best in a cold, dark area.
  2. They will age more rapidly if you keep them next to the stove or oven.
  3. Using a sticker or permanent marker, it’s a good idea to write the date the spice was opened directly on the jar. In this manner, you will be aware of its potency and able to pitch it when the color starts to fade or the scent becomes less strong.
  4. Verify that the lids are securely shut.
  5. The moisture from the steam may cause the spice to pack and not flow easily, so avoid adding the spice straight from the jar over a boiling saucepan.

Putting Your Spice Cabinet in Order

A well-maintained spice cabinet is one that is more often used. Ensure that the herbs and spices you use most often are easily accessible. A little Lazy Susan works nicely, as do tier-style plastic spice racks. To avoid buying additional by accident, make sure there are none that are hidden in corners. Pack less-used herbs and spices, such as the following frequently used herbs and spices, in little cardboard or plastic containers based on their intended use:

  • Spices and Herbs for Savoring Foods: cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, basil, sage, rosemary, dill, oregano, etc.
  • Sweet Baking Spices: ground ginger, mace, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice
  • Chili flakes, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, peppercorns, and lemon pepper are examples of heat and pepper.
  • Sea salt, kosher salt, pink Himalayan salt, Great Lakes steak seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic salt, and onion salt are examples of flavored salts.

This eliminates the possibility of spice jars falling out of the cabinet while you’re searching and makes it simple to draw out a collection of spices that you’re likely to use together.

Heinen's Spices

Methods for Grinding Whole Spices

For years to come, a pepper mill is a cheap instrument that will provide you with taste and spice, but other whole spices need a mortar and pestle to be fully used. If you don’t mind the smell of cumin in your coffee, another choice is a cheap spice or coffee grinder that is made just for grinding spices. The following spices are available for purchase whole or ground. Just deplete them faster.

  • Cumin: Added to Indian and Mexican cuisine
  • Use black peppercorns in everything (you’ll never use pre-ground pepper again).
  • Use of coriander in Chinese, Thai, and Mexican cuisine
  • Nutmeg: Added to various savory recipes and baked goods
  • Fennel: Added to several baked items and Italian recipes
  • Anise seeds are used in several baked items and Italian cuisine.
  • Mustard Seed: Adding spiciness and heat to a variety of dishes
  • Dried chilies are used in Chinese, Thai, and Mexican cuisine.
  • Bay leaves: Used in stews and soups across many culinary traditions
  • Use of cardamom in Indian cuisine
  • Celery Seed: A component in pickling recipes

Using a tiny piece of bread to remove any remaining powdered spice residue is the most effective method of cleaning a spice grinder. This works really well. Simply give your mortar and pestle a quick wash and let it air dry if you’re using one. Your ground spice may taste different after using soap because of the residue it may leave behind. Undoubtedly not favorable.

Advice about Using Spices in Cooking

  • Spices release their fragrant oils when they are toasted whole over medium heat in a dry pan, so stir them about for a few minutes. Allow them to cool off before grinding. I often toast pre-ground spices, such cinnamon and turmeric, since the heat enhances their taste. Simply take care not to burn them.
  • The easiest technique to introduce flavor into a rice or vegetable meal is to sauté the dried herb or ground spice in butter or oil before adding the primary components. Because of the heat and fat, the spice may develop and the taste will permeate the whole meal more fully. It is preferable to add dried herbs and spices early in the cooking process as opposed to later. Finally, add the fresh herbs.
  • It is not required to double the spices or dry herbs when doubling a recipe. If you were to use one teaspoon for a single dish, then one and a half teaspoons would be suitable for a doubled batch.
  • To replace fresh herbs with dried ones, use one tsp of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh, and add them early in the cooking process to allow the flavor to seep into the food.

In addition to the spices already listed, some of the most beneficial herbs and spices to have on hand are:

  • Heinen’s Organic Signature Grill Seasoning, Heinen’s Organic Italian Seasoning, and Heinen’s Poultry Seasoning are examples of all-purpose blended spices that let you season with only one bottle as opposed to three or four.
  • Granules of garlic and onion for flavoring soups and stews.
  • Simple stews and grilled meats may benefit from the fast and easy complexity that Heinen’s Organic Hickory Smoked BBQ, Mango Habenero Seasoning, Smoked Paprika, Chili Powder with Salt, and Adobo Seasoning can provide.

With your newfound knowledge of how to buy, store, and utilize spices, you may confidently use them in your cuisine. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And never forget that although diversity is the spice of life, life takes on flavor when there is a variety of spices!