19-11: Dried Herbs and Spices II

Here’s the second part to this miniseries–this entry complements 19-10: Dried Herbs & Spices I, which came out a bit before this one. These are part of Simply DeliciousCooking School, which makes up the last 3 chapters of the book series.

19-11 Dried Herbs and Spices II
Here’s some advice from Simply Delicious on how to buy & store spices. Don’t feel like you have to have a crazy, in-depth rack with obscure spices no one’s heard of. At least, not right away.

After the jump, I’ll share some more recipes from this project that make use of some of these recommended spices, and I’ll even let you see a glimpse or two of my spice collection.

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My collection has grown over the years–I started with just a few bottles on top of the stove like most people. Even I’m breaking some of the rules that Simply Delicious lays out: I have some things in their original plastic containers, some of them are probably a bit old, and this cabinet is not directly above the stove, but stove-adjacent.

I keep squeeze-bottles of olive oil and canola oil in my cabinet because it’s much easier to use while in the midst of cooking–try drizzling oil from the giant gallon jug! I have the same practice now in my kitchen at work–it was a trick I learned from my line cook buddies at my last gig. Just make sure the oil doesn’t go rancid–this only works if you’re cooking frequently and cycling through the oil in the bottle pretty rapidly. If you’re not filling the bottle at least once every week or two, it’s probably sitting in there too long. ⏰

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Even more herbs & spices sit on my counter next to the stove, another no-no because of the risk of light/heat damage. However, I try to cycle things through as much as I can, most of these have been refilled with newer stuff in the 5 years or so that I’ve had this rack. I got into growing and drying some of my own herbs this year–the oregano is from our garden, and the Italian seasoning is my own blend of homegrown & store-bought herbs & spices.

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Cabinet again, but with the lazy Susan spun to the other side (lazy Susans are great for storing lots of bottles & jars in a small space–this is the one I have). You can see I clearly have no supermarket alliances–I think I have almost every major one represented here. More evidence of a collection built over time, recipe by recipe.

Another good idea for building a spice collection is to save small jars & bottles and buy your spices from bulk bins–it’s cheaper (usually by a significant amount), you can buy as much or as little as you like (or need), and the stuff is usually fresher since it turns over faster. Get yourself a label-maker or just some masking tape and a Sharpie, and you’ve got the perfect set-up. Tightly seal & wrap any excess, label & date, and store in a dark cabinet or in the freezer until you need to refill your jars.

One more tip that Simply Delicious mentions is to get yourself a mortar & pestle or a grinder. I agree wholeheartedly with this one. I started grinding my own spices after I worked in a restaurant not too long ago–it was cheaper (and fresher) to buy whole spices and grind as needed. It’ll make a HUGE difference in the cost and taste of your spices. Here’s the grinder that I use at home and we used in the restaurant, but any decent coffee grinder will work just fine. Just don’t use it for coffee AND spices–both will end up tasting strange.

19-11 Dried Herbs and Spices IIa
Even more pictures, links, & recipes!


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Cinnamon

Cardamom


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Ginger

Vanilla


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Nutmeg

Mace


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Cloves

Cumin

Fennel


Find more uses for herbs & spices as well as more recipes in the first half of this miniseries, 19-10: Dried Herbs & Spices I!

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