What spices should you buy when you are first stocking your pantry? How and where should you store them?
Storing Your Spices
Now that you’ve found the best places to buy your spices, once you get your spices home, do NOT store them above the stove. The heat, light, and steam will kill their flavor quickly. They need to be kept cool, sealed, and out of direct light. The hot water heater is another heat source you want to avoid, as well as the dryer. Don’t just leave them in the baggies, as the flavors will get all mixed and they’ll go stale faster. Besides, you don’t really want people teasing you about the bagged herb you keep in your drawers, now do you? ;^)Small canning jars or decorative tins work wonderfully for storing your spices. If you use lightweight tins you can buy flat magnets to glue on the back and keep them on the side of the fridge, which is very nice especially in a small kitchen. Do label them! And yes, I’ve been caught out with bottles full of mystery leaves when I didn’t have a pen and thought I would do it later … right.
Another good way to store them is in a drawer with labels on the lids so you don’t have to shuffle them about to find what you want, or on a narrow shelf inside a cabinet door.
What Spices To Buy
Onion powder and garlic powder are good to keep on hand for most things, if you are in a pinch and don’t want to chop it fresh. You can add garlic powder to butter for garlic bread, for instance, or you can throw a little into mashed potatoes or rice. I always have peppercorns and grind pepper as I go. Pepper grinders are cheap at thrift stores and garage sales, or you can buy pepper in a grinder package the first time and then keep refilling from the bulk bin.
I also always keep a little dried parsley around, many recipes call for it, as well as some whole bay leaves for soups, stews, and roasts. Remember, you’ll only need a little of each. You’ll come up with your own favorites and combinations. Chives are good for baked potatoes. Thyme is great on baked chicken. Rosemary is most excellent on lamb or pork. Of course you have to have cinnamon, how else would you have cinnamon toast?
For Mexican food you’ll need some cumin and oregano, as well as chili powder.
For Italian food you’ll start with some basil and oregano.
For Indian food you’ll need garam masala, coriander as well as curry and turmeric. For garam masala you may have to go to a food co-op or ethnic food store. You can also order online, or buy the component spices and mix it up yourself, as it’s just a mix of several spices. A lot of regular grocery stores don’t carry it.
Himalayan pink salt is a good choice to use rather than regular table salt. I also only buy sea salt, not regular iodized. There are different types of salt for different things, and it does matter which you use. They have different flavors, purity, and blending consistency.
For recipes for DIY spice mixes, barbecue rubs, and sauces get thee to Google, Pinterest, or Allrecipes.com. I’ll be posting some of my favorites later. You’ll never have to worry about midnight munchies far from an open grocery store again!
I would love it if you would share some of your favorite spices and what you use them for, as well as your favorite mix recipes! Please do!