Your Spice Nice
youre like most, you probably have spices in your cupboard
collected in various sized jars and bottles that date back somewhere
before the Homos Erectus era. Contrary to popular belief, spices,
unlike plastic Pepsi six pack holders, will not keep indefinitely.
Spices, like any other ingredient, should be as fresh as possible
to produce the optimum result in your cooking. To test this theory,
you need only find a source for fresh spices and compare them
to those old friends gathering dust in your cupboard.
wonderful habit to develop is to replace all your spices once
a year. You could make this an annual New Years, or even
spring cleaning event. This may sound like a wasteful practice,
but the noticeable difference that fresh spices will bring to
your cooking will soon convince you of the merit of this little
extravagance. If you need more convincing on how to rationalize
an unrational act, consider the cost of the other ingredients
in the foods you prepare and the care and effort you put in to
the meals you serve. Surely your family and friends deserve the
full potency of flavors that fresh spices can contribute. It works
have found a great source for fresh spices at my local gourmet
kitchen shop. The spices come in small plastic bags and are delightfully
aromatic and brightly colored. I save the grocery store spice
jars when I replace spices and use these jars to hold the new
spices. Add a label, and your back in business.
spices are better in their original form, like nutmeg. Nutmeg
should be purchased as whole nuts and grated when needed. The
difference in flavor between fresh grated nutmeg and nutmeg from
a jar or can is remarkable. Nutmeg nuts are readily available
and will never get stale or lose their potency when kept in nut
is also much better if home ground or crushed from whole peppercorns.
Grinding or crushing your own peppercorns will give your food
all the flavor of pepper without all the hot.
I feel I must include salt, although not a spice, rather a seasoning,
salt is a key player in maximizing the flavor in your cooking.
Just as fresh spices can make all the difference, so can the type
of salt you use. We recommend kosher salt, and specifically Diamond
Crystal Kosher Salt. This salt is coarser than typical table salt
and dynamic in flavor. I know it may be difficult to imagine how
a particular type of salt could make a substantial difference
in taste, but it does. Kosher salt is more flavorful but not as
salty as regular table salt. Use a quarter to a half teaspoon
more for each teaspoon of regular table salt in recipes. This
is one of those wonderful secrets that will improve
the taste of all that you cook. I fill a small bowl with kosher
salt and sprinkle it by pinchfuls as I cook. I also fill a large
holed shaker bottle, like a Parmesan cheese shaker, with this
salt for sprinkling- its terrific on popcorn!
have found that most spices are gluten-free. As a Celiac, it is
of course always necessary to check the label of anything before
you buy or eat it. Another advantage of buying specialty spices,
is that they are generally pure.
one spice to check carefully is garlic salt. Many garlic salts
are combined with other ingredients. You can find garlic salt
with no other added ingredients.
freshen the spices in your cooking and free yourself from the
land of bland.