p t f

How to Choose, Use and Keep Spices for your Everyday Kitchen

Cooking with Spices - Herbs Spices - Choosing Spices - Store spices - use spices image
Sep 14, 2011
Veronica Brandy
N.Y. Editor

Spices are small “bombs” of flavors that enhance the simplest dishes. Here are some basic tips to properly select, maintain and use.

How to choose spices

According to Jill Norman in her book Herbs & Spices: The Cook’s Reference, whole spices are preferred to those already ground. They retain their flavor longer. Some ground spices contain additives (dyes, sulfites, salt) and some unscrupulous manufacturers will extend them with powders, such as flour or toasted rice kernels roasted and powdered. The whole spices are guarantee of quality.

We buy spices in small amounts to prevent them fan and lose their flavor.

Cooking with Spices - Herbs Spices - Choosing Spices - Store spices - use spices

How to use spices

To highlight the flavor of the spices, they are cooked in a dry heavy skillet, over low heat, and stiring continuously. As soon as they change color and emit a stronger scent, they are removed from heat and allowed to cool before grinding.
To flavor a fat before you cook a piece of meat, simply toast the spices in a little oil, then remove and cook the meat.

To grind spices, use a coffee grinder (which will be used only for spices, unless you like flavored coffee!) Or a pestle and mortar. However, it does not require to reduce spice in powder, but to crush it instead.

How to store spices


Spices are sensitive and lose their qualities in contact with moisture, heat and light. Store them in airtight containers, away from light and away from a heat source in a cupboard or pantry. In this way, they keep at least two years. If you wish to grind a large quantity of spices, they are kept in the freezer in an airtight container. They will keep at least one year.

When you buy a blend of spices, grind the entire set in order to maintain the balance of flavors. And do not forget to label the jars!

How much does it cost?

Spices sold in supermarkets or in bulk food stores are very economical and are detailed around $1 to $3 for 50 g. If you want a purer product – that is to say that has not undergone processing or to which nothing is added – you have to pay a little higher price.

The bottom line is a winner, with more quality spices there is, the less it will take to season dishes.

If you prefer ground spices, they can be bought in shops for organic food and organic products. In general, these spices are pure enough and are not elongated with flour. For those who want to try new flavors, there are specialty stores where you can find quality spices, which have not undergone any transformation.

Also don’t miss this fabulous book: Herbs & Spices: The Cook’s Reference, by Jill Norman, you can get a price on Amazon.

Photos by: ciamabue , enigmachck1

Join the discussion