HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

What is the one spice in your cupboard you seldom use but if you threw it away you think you may need it?

Was thinking of this while talking about how growing up my grandmother always used cloves to spice up her ham and never used them any other time. For me that would have to be poultry seasoning. I only really use it for stuffing and only have that twice a year or so.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: personalcheffie

      Yep. The problem is, I always *think* I threw it away. So when I'm out shopping
      for eggs for the meringue I end up buying yet another box. What is this stuff,
      anyway? I've got four boxes each with 1/4 tsp. taken out. I wonder if I can ebay 'em.

      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

        LOL. I am wondering if we can just freeze the stuff, program our new refrigerators to let us know every six months we have it on hand, so we don't buy more. Better yet, if we input it on our shopping list, our new refrigerator will let us know we have it on hand. Isn't that what they were designed for? Don't those new fangled appliances do that stuff now?

        I rely on Mastercook, but it's not programmed into the house operating system yet. That will be my next house, right?

        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Hate to be a snobby-type poster, but I do have an unlined copper bowl that works great for whipping egg whites, no cream of tartar required. You have to put a little arm into it with a balloon whip, but the reaction of the egg proteins with the copper makes a nice stiff meringue. Or,a softer whip for souffles, should you desire.

          Still, those four boxes of cream of tartar are a lot cheaper if you're not getting the copper bowl as a gift!

          1. re: cayjohan

            Posts like this make me realize how little I know. *Sigh* ;)

        2. re: personalcheffie

          I would put cream of tartar to use for an aluminum cleaner and brightener when mixed with some water.

          Rinse well any aluminum pot or pan it is used in because it will remove the tarnished (oxidized) aluminum residues that is unsafe for consumption.

          1. re: RShea78

            Would this remove the residue in my tea kettle? Lemon, vinegar and baking soda don't do anything.

            1. re: personalcheffie

              I use water / cream of tartar solution in my hot pot and coffee pot. Maximum of 2 tablespoons per qt of water and do a fresh water boil/pass/rinse following any unrepeated cycles.

              Remember it may take a few boil outs depending on the accumulations. If the tea kettle has a whistle it would have to be disabled some way, (propped open?) as it needs a good 5 minute boil.

              To me it beats CLR and some commercial de-liming solutions in many applications but in some you need to use them when heating or boiling isn't an option.

          2. re: personalcheffie

            Same here, I was sure I was going to need it... but so far nope...

            --Dommy!

            1. re: personalcheffie

              And wouldn't you know? I just made a mousse recipe for a client that required it. I went ahead and made it anyway without, and it came out fine. That was only due to my whisking attachment on the Cuisinart Hand blender.

              1. re: personalcheffie

                Snickerdoodles. CofT is an essential ingredient. I also use it to replace baking powder in a pinch -- mix with baking soda.

                1. re: personalcheffie

                  Does cream of tartar have a taste or is it purely for texture?

                  1. re: Heatherb

                    As tasteless as baking powder. And I've made plenty of perfectly fine meringue without it.

                    1. re: allegro805

                      I didn't use it for my recipe, and the egg whites came out fine. So does non fat evaporated milk. It adds an acid which can be helpful the obtaining stiff whites, but if you have killer equipment, that will do the job and you really don't need to add it.

                2. I have a pretty huge supply (from an Asian market) of whole mace that I rarely use, even though I bake and make Indian curries fairly regularly. Can live without it probably.

                  Also only use fenugreek once a year when making mango pickle/chutney. All things considered, these spices are affordable enough and take up so little room that I don't care about not using them much.

                  As for your dilemma, you could probably ditch the poultry seasoning and get by with just sage, marjoram, tarragon, and thyme.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: allegro805

                    I was going to say mace too, I've had a jar of ground mace forever, gave half of it to a guy at work whose wife couldn't find any; kept some because I was SURE I would need it someday. Well this year I found a cookie recipe that called for mace and was so pleased with myself for saving the stuff for 5 (or maybe 10?) years. Still have enough for another batch next year.

                    1. re: coll

                      You could make your own Old Bay Seasoning mix with ground mace.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Old Bay is one of those seasoning I hardly ever use- pretty much just for crab cakes (which I almost never make). I might throw a dash is seafood marinade once in a while.

                        1. re: kloomis

                          My S.O. is under the firm impression that Old Bay is good on everything. Scrambled eggs, chicken salad, roast chicken, homefrieds, french frieds (really any potatoe item except mashed), absolutely ANY seafood, you get the idea. Sometimes it's ok, but I really have to ask him to lay off occasionally. In his defense, he has lived within a stones throw of the Chesapeake since he was about 2 years old.

                          1. re: wawajb

                            I think your SO is very close to correct. I like it sprinkled on potatoes for roasting, super on roasting chicken or in chicken salad or topping egg salad. It ain't just for shrimp and crab boils anymore!

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I've come to like it on most things...he goes a little crazy on my homefries though, and first thing in the morning is not an acceptable Old Bay time for me.

                  2. cream of tartar...I literally threw out 3 fairly new shakers during a recent move; come Christmas time half of the candies and cookies asked for it. Wouldn't you know it!

                    1. I had a great time today putting the cheap Mexican brand nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves & star anise in the crock pot with super cheap apple juice & filling the house w/ a WONDERFUL scent!

                      1. Now that's an XLNT idea. Thanks Torty! Even have a crock pot which gets no use, but will now!

                          1. Marjoram. Every dish I would think of using marjoram in (i.e., those that call for it) I just end up using the oregano I grow. Plus, the oregano is fresh; the dried marjoram has been sitting in the cupboard, mostly because I like the name. :) Time to divest, I think.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cayjohan

                              I really like marjoram in salad dressing and on mushrooms. w/ or w/out oregano.

                                1. re: SweetPea

                                  And with Sauteed Mushrooms... we use it all the time! :)

                                  --Dommy!

                              1. Celery seed. I've used it once in the past 12 months.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: MobyRichard

                                  MobyRichard: crush it in a small mortar and add to coleslaw - really wonderful.

                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                    Agreed! My homemade coleslaw dressing always has plenty of celery seed. I started buying it in bulk. :)

                                      1. re: MobyRichard

                                        Use it in stews or on beef/pork roasts (just a tiny pinch - it can definitely overpower!)

                                        1. re: MobyRichard

                                          I bought and use celery seed for one recipe...Chicken Pierre...it's great!

                                          1. re: MobyRichard

                                            I always put that in my tuna salad.

                                          2. celery seed is key for a top notch bloody mary, that and freshly grated horseradish. Always purchase spices in whole form and toast prior to using for each dish. As for those spices that are 1 year old, toss them, they contain only a small portion of fresh spices.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: wazup1999

                                              Do you toast celery seed? I've always just crushed it, but am open to suggestions.

                                              1. re: krissywats

                                                Is that used for thickening? Or am I confused? Also, I seem to remember (in those long ago days with babies) that arrowroot was used in the lovely teething biscuits I bought at the co-op. I wonder if it can be used in baking?

                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                  Yes, my husband prefers it to cornstarch on the rare occasion that he cooks. I've never used it all and never heard of it used for anything else - but alas it sticks around just in case he wants to stir fry and thicken the sauce a little.

                                                  I've not heard of it in baking - wonder what it would be used for? I'll do a little looking around.

                                                  1. re: krissywats

                                                    I recall buying arrowroot biscuits for the kids - perhaps they were not just for teething, per se, but because of the need to avoid wheat products, and thus development of allergies in the early years.

                                                    Don't worry about looking for the baking issue - my kids are older and grandchildren may be only 5 years ahead (yikes). Maybe then I'll look for arrowroot biscuit recipes. :)

                                                    Still, I'm curious to know why that is your Hub's choice of starch? Do you think arrowroot is so regional or cultural?

                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                      His official reply when I asked him was 'I dunno'.

                                                      He then said it's the first way he learned to thicken a sauce and it's always worked for him. I probed further (see how much I'm learning about my husband?) and found out he was taught by his father, who is quite an excellent home chef....background is German (but pretty far removed from that ethnicity).

                                                      We'll see my father-in-law in a few days so I'll find out over dinner why he prefers arrowroot - now i'm interested!

                                                      1. re: krissywats

                                                        Perhaps he used to watch a lot of Graham Kerr. I recall him thickening almost all of his sauces with arrowroot. It was my first experience with it, that is.

                                                        1. re: QueenB

                                                          Yes, as a kid I used to watch him and that was what he always used. That is exactly how I became familiar with it. It does hold up to freezing and refrigeration, plus it just makes sauces LOOK better.

                                                          1. re: personalcheffie

                                                            Is it arrowroot that can break down if used to thicken a gravy that is simmered too long? I've heard that can be a drawback. [And does this really qualify as a "spice" even though it's sold in the overpriced little jars with all those other Schilling/McCormick items (I prefer the cheap cellophane packets in the Mexican food section myself, or the great inexpensive collection at CostPlus).]

                                                            1. re: allegro805

                                                              Good questions: of which I have answers to neither. My guess is you're probably right, probably not a spice.

                                                              1. re: allegro805

                                                                I know they say cornstarch breaks down if you cook too long, although it's never happened to me.

                                                        2. re: cayjohan

                                                          I spoke with my FIL yesterday and he said that it's what he has always used to thicken - he thinks it's the smoothest and absolutely tasteless so that even if you have to use a lot, there's no problem with taste.

                                                          From the horse's mouth!

                                                          1. re: krissywats

                                                            yup it should break down if 'boiled' (as opposed to gentle simmer) or frozen. It does in my house and you can use it to thicken without sauces going cloudy. My problem is that I always forget I have it!

                                                          2. re: cayjohan

                                                            Well, I'm not him of course, but I use arrowroot in place of cornstarch and/or flour because the carbohydrate count tends to be lower... It's a suggested thickener for many on low carb and/or diabetic diets so I'm told...

                                                        3. re: cayjohan

                                                          Chinese dishes thickened with corn starch go watery if you refrigerate and reheat them; substitute arrowroot powder and they stay thickened.

                                                          I also use arrowroot powder (and tapioca powder too) to thicken milk (or half-and-half, or soy milk, or whatever) for gelato base.

                                                          1. re: ladelfa

                                                            Rice flour is the bomb, and really cheap. Mochiko is what is readily available.

                                                        4. re: krissywats

                                                          I use arrowroot for one recipe. When I make a fruit cobbler. The kind with sweet biscuits on top. This is one of my tried and true recipes and can be done with many different fruits. Usually, that means cherry, blueberrie or peach.

                                                          1. re: krissywats

                                                            I heard that arrowroot was good for canker sores but didn't work for me! I have yet to throw it away though!

                                                          2. Juniper berries. We used it in a glaze for Christmas sugar cookies, and it was lovely. I knew I had them somewhere and dug them out, but I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd used them in anything.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: perigord lover

                                                              Put some in your tea.
                                                              They are good for your kidneys!

                                                              1. re: perigord lover

                                                                Add some to a bottle of white wine and an equal amount of water, add a few peppercorns and mustard seeds, and poach fish in it.

                                                                  1. re: perigord lover

                                                                    SO told me they taste like Gin... and since then I've never touched them... LOL!

                                                                    --Dommy!

                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                      I always use gin when a recipe calls for juniper berry. Since I never had the real thing, can't compare.

                                                                      1. re: Dommy

                                                                        That's funny because I just bought juniper berries precisely because they do taste like gin!

                                                                        I love gin & tonics, but I don't really drink (like I went about 3 or 4 years without a single drink, and in the past year, I've had about 4 drinks total. That includes 2 or 3 that I couldn't finish because after a couple sips, I felt buzzed! haha)

                                                                        Anyhow, gin is made/flavored with juniper berries, so I just bought some berries to add to my sugarfree tonic with some lime juice, and I can sit and enjoy my alcohol-free "gin" and tonic!

                                                                        1. re: luv2bake

                                                                          Okay now I want to try that...lol

                                                                      2. re: perigord lover

                                                                        Where do you buy Juniper Berries? Are they in the Spice section? I have a recipe that calls for them and have never found any. Or maybe I haven't looked hard enough :(

                                                                        1. re: luv2cookinIowa

                                                                          We got them at a gourmet food shop, but Penzeys has them as well... :)

                                                                          --Dommy!

                                                                          1. re: Dommy

                                                                            Hey Thanks!! Sounds like a neat store. Found their website and a location about 70 miles from me. I also ordered one of their catalogs.

                                                                            1. re: luv2cookinIowa

                                                                              muah... muahaha...MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

                                                                              Welcome to Penzey's Addiction Central!

                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                LOL!!!! Ahhh, another person sucked into Penzey's Lair of Spicey Doom!

                                                                          2. re: luv2cookinIowa

                                                                            A health food store I go to has them in bulk, buy as many/few as you wish. I'm sure it's not the only place that does that. They cost around $1.50/oz.

                                                                          3. re: perigord lover

                                                                            great to put in EVOO with a couple of bay leaves and then marinate those lttle fresh mozzarella balls in.

                                                                          4. i find poultry seasoning to be a great addition to home made chicken soup. a pinch to taste punches up the flavor. also some grated lemon peel added just before serving -mbut that's another story.

                                                                            1. White cardamom. I only ever use it for lussekatten once a year.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: luv2bake

                                                                                  I love Cardamom, I make cookies and always add it to my apple pie... YUM!! :)

                                                                                  --Dommy!

                                                                                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                  My friend used caramom in her homemade brownies last year. It added an interesting dimension to the taste. Very flavorful.

                                                                                  1. cardamon is on my perennial must-get-to-know list.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                      next time you make coffe add a few cardamom seeds to the filter with the coffee grounds.

                                                                                      1. re: bolivianita

                                                                                        sounds good! seeds, not pods, right? and why do they call seeded pods 'decorticated' cardamon? linguist hounds?

                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                          Decorticate, as far as seeds are concerned, means to remove that pesky outer husk.

                                                                                          1. re: jillp

                                                                                            I think toodiejane knows what it means, she just wondered where such a complicated word came from (as opposed to just using a simpler term like "shelled"). Courtesy of Oxford English Dictionary, jane, I found out it's derived from "cortex". Why we use such a complex word, and specifically to refer to cardamom, I have no idea...

                                                                                      2. re: toodie jane

                                                                                        Cardamom is also GREAT with cranberries. If you make something with them, add a little cardamom--scones, tarts, muffins, whatever. Too bad cranberries are hard to find this year...

                                                                                        1. re: amyzan

                                                                                          It's also great with chocolate and orange - as in cookies. Yum.

                                                                                      3. No. Since spices lose their potency after about 6 months, I don't keep any around for that long-I just buy them as needed in small amounts from the bulk section at my grocery or natural food store.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: christy319

                                                                                          >>>No. Since spices lose their potency after about 6 months, (?)...

                                                                                          After opening or have you some telepathy as to how long the store has had them on the shelf? Also consider their supply chain??

                                                                                          Probably one of my pet peeves is that seasonings and spices rarely carry any dates to get an idea as to their freshness on.

                                                                                          1. re: RShea78

                                                                                            Uhhh....you don't need telepathy. You can taste them and decide if they are still potent enough. In my experience that's about 6 months (I just did this for year old ground cloves which had no flavor left whatsoever). I know other who'll keep them around for a year before tossing them.

                                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                                              I buy all my spices (that I don't grow) from Penzeys, and I always mark the purchase date on the jar when I receive it.

                                                                                              Whole spices can go 2 years in sealed bags W/O problems, but ground spices should be added by 1/2 if used after 1 year, and dumped after 18 months.
                                                                                              I toss any dried herbs that I grew the year before when the fresh herbs begin to come into usage.

                                                                                            1. Katakuriko - potato starch. My mom uses it a lot, but I can't find much of a use for it in my own kitchen.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: dipipi

                                                                                                Potato starch, mixed with a little sugar, dissolved in a small amount of water, and then 'cooked' with a sudden pouring of boiling water, was a comfort food for my mother. Prepared this way, it is a little sweet and warming, but has no distinct flavor. She used to like to have a mug of it on cool nights. I'm not sure where and how she learned to eaet it this way.

                                                                                                1. re: jillp

                                                                                                  Thirding the fenugreek.

                                                                                                  Also, this thread reminds me of sitting at a bar and looking at allll the liqueurs/liquors on display and realizing I've never tried most of them - what ARE they? I may have to methodically plan some meals with different spices going down the alphabet. And when those recipes fail, just cart myself out to a bar with a friend, and start with the top liqueur on the left and work my way down. Skipping the Ferne Branca.

                                                                                                  1. re: Cinnamon

                                                                                                    I have to admit I've tried many a recipe just to test out an unfamiliar spice/herb for the novelty factor (or a new cocktail with a funky odd liqueur). I'm betting other geeks--I mean hounds--have done this.

                                                                                                    1. re: allegro805

                                                                                                      I have - ground sumac being one after trying it at a local restaurant in Cambridge, MA. Went out and bought it at the newly opened Penzey's and have used it in several recipes.

                                                                                                  2. re: jillp

                                                                                                    Another fenugreek. Also annatto, marjoram...

                                                                                                    1. Asafoetida

                                                                                                      I don't use it very often, but just a little makes many Indian dishes more authentic. So, I've had a bottle for years and used maybe 1/20th of the bottle. It seems to retain its characteristic strong odor and flavor, curiously? Maybe because it's a resin?

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                        If you open the jar and can smell the asafoetida across the house within a few minutes, I'm betting you can be sure it's still potent.

                                                                                                        1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                          Me, too. I've been working on the same jar of the stuff for ages.

                                                                                                        2. Ground ginger. My husband has it in the cupboard for one of his three standby recipes, but I've never used it. I use a lot of fresh ginger root, but ground ginger...not so much. Maybe one of these days I'll whip up a killer batch of gingersnaps.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: whirlingdervish

                                                                                                            I make Rose Levy Beranbaum's ginger scone recipe precisely for this reason -- to get rid of ground ginger that I have in the house. I increased the amount of crystallised ginger (also called for in the recipe) slightly so that it's one entire McCormick's bottle.

                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                              Ginger scone, eh? Sounds interesting. I may have to try that one. Thanks!

                                                                                                              1. re: whirlingdervish

                                                                                                                Ginger scones are greatness. I added dried bing cherries to my recipe and they came out great.

                                                                                                            2. re: whirlingdervish

                                                                                                              I also love ground ginger in Carrot Cakes!! And I use it to sprinkle on cooked carrots.. YUM!! :)

                                                                                                              --Dommy!

                                                                                                              1. re: whirlingdervish

                                                                                                                Gingerbread is one of those things I could just keep making. I also make Mexican brownies with powdered chipotle, cinnamon and ginger.

                                                                                                                1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                                                                  Next time use Candied Ginger in your brownies... It's excellent... :)

                                                                                                                  --Domm!

                                                                                                                1. re: laur76

                                                                                                                  Are you kiddding? If you've got that, you don't need anything else.

                                                                                                                2. I try to buy stuff at the bulk store, so that I can buy 1 tablespoon or 1 cup of something. That being said I still have half a dozen bags of a pinch of this and a dash of that. Unfortunately only half of them are labeled.

                                                                                                                  1. I always seem to buy star anise when I don't need it.

                                                                                                                    1. Caraway seeds. I don't think I've even opened the jar.

                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                        I use caraway seeds twice a year: in the spring, in my soda bread; and in the fall in my goulash. A spoonful in each. So I have to have them.

                                                                                                                          1. re: personalcheffie

                                                                                                                            Thanks for reminding me. I think I've heard fennel seeds are good in sauerkraut too. Got a jar of them to use up also.

                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                              I put fennel seeds in my tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                That's a great idea, especially when I'm not putting in sausages!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                  I do this too, have for years. When I make meatballs, which is a big client request, I use some hot Italian in the mix.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                    Oooh, I like this idea - about how much would you use for a 3 quart pot of sauce, Das?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                      Half a teaspoon for each 28-oz. can of tomatoes, so... hm... I guess a teaspoon or so? I just bust them up a bit in my mortar, but you don't have to.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                        No, I would definitely crack them in the mortar - thanks for the info! I was thinking it wouldn't be a big amount, as it can overpower.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                                                                                    I crush up fennel seeds and sprinkle them on little red potatoes cut in half, and roast them with olive oil.

                                                                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                                                                  I don't make those food at all. Some spices must be more particular to a region of food.

                                                                                                                                  For instance I do use cardamon (2 types, the green and the black), for cooking Indian food. But I don't tend to cook E. European food or Irish (soda bread?)

                                                                                                                              2. Basil! I always bypass the dried stuff in my cupboard and just use fresh, but for some reason, I think I'm "supposed" to have dried basil on hand, so there it sits. Are there any instances when dried basil is preferred?

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: grubn

                                                                                                                                  In the winter, I'll use it instead of fresh because, who cares? Spring is around the corner. Same as cooking root veggies.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: grubn

                                                                                                                                    sometimes i prefer it in cooking a tomato sauce to freeze because the fresh is impossible to get as small as the dried, and then it gets all black and slimey when i freeze it. blech.

                                                                                                                                  2. I'm sure this makes me a heretic among chowhounds, but I have a little bottle of saffron threads that I bought a long time ago but have never, ever used. It's not something I grew up with, so I don't really know what to do with it and am afraid I might mess something up with it. But I keep seeing it in recipes, so I'm sure I need to have it--even though I haven't used it, even for risotto where it's clearly called for in my recipe.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                      It's fussy to work with -- you have to put warm but not boiling water, drop in the threads (and being slightly larger than your average guy, I have to use a tweezers), let it bloom, then use the water as well as the threads.

                                                                                                                                      I find that achiote or turmeric works better for the colour.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                        I used to get bijol in Puerto Rican markets in New York. I can't find it here in California, so I bring it back when I go east. It's great for coloring rice.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                          But saffron (at least good ones) have a different and unique flavor, so it's not just for color.

                                                                                                                                          Actually I hate it, so I also have a small vial that I don't use. But if you want to make paella...

                                                                                                                                        2. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                          so do I, it doesn't spoil so I'm sure I'll have it for along time.
                                                                                                                                          But I have gelatin leaves....

                                                                                                                                        3. I've bought some weird ones from penzey's that I am sure I would only need if I threw them out :)

                                                                                                                                          1. Tarragon. I used to have a recipe for salad dressing with mustard and olive oil that called for tarragon, and it seems like one of those basic things like basil and oregano, that everyone should have around. But the truth is it seems kind of overpowering to me, and I never really want to use it, but I never throw it out. I've got some really old stuff in there right now.

                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Judith

                                                                                                                                              Fresh tarragon is one of the most wonderful things in the world but dried tarragon is something I just can't stand. For years I thought I didn't like tarragon at all because I'd only had it dried. What a happy discovery to find that the fresh version goes with so many things.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Judith

                                                                                                                                                  I say tarragon is only good with two things: fish and eggs.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Judith

                                                                                                                                                    Fresh tarragon goes wonderfully with oysters; with most seafood, as a matter of fact. It's what makes a sauce Bearnaise. I throw whole leaves into a salad and put them on platters of tomatoes before the fresh basil appears in the summer. It is great with chicken, too.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Judith

                                                                                                                                                      I only use fresh tarragon for fish and omelettes -- an omelette with just some chopped fresh tarragon is a thing of beauty.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Judith

                                                                                                                                                    I think I'm going in right now to throw out my tarragon. I have had the same bottle for over 20 years, and I NEVER use it. It came with the original spice set I got when I got married. My husband does most of the fish cooking in our house, and he never uses tarragon. Thank you for freeing me from this piece of cabinet clutter!

                                                                                                                                                  3. I've had the same packet of salad dressing mix in my cabinet...man, years! I'm never going to use it (when making fresh is waaay better) but I'm probably not going to toss it either...saving for "one day" when a friend/relative insists on the mix! (Same reason I keep unsweetened sugar packets--for company.)

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      I finally threw out my packet of "sesame dressing" mix... but what's an unsweetened sugar packet?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                        lol, Das U...I was referring to Equal, Sweet n Low and the like..must have typed that with one eye closed.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Ras El Hanout

                                                                                                                                                      Bought it for one curry dish and have never used again sadly.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Wow- this is a great thread! Thanks for so many ideas! As for me, that dried basil just sits and sits. The dried mushrooms too. The star anise sits. But my worse offense is buying those humongous bags of dried chili peppers at the Indian store. I couldn't possibly use them all in a lifetime. But cardamom? Use it in desserts and tea. It's a natural for Indian foods, but it's great in pumpkin and sweet potato pie!!!

                                                                                                                                                        My husband uses a pinch of the cream of tartar because he says it makes his scrambled eggs fluffier. (I haven't personally seen proof of that, but he believes it.) Otherwise, a lot of spices people have mentioned on here could be used in Indian and Ethiopian foods as well as for tea.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FaithNJ

                                                                                                                                                          The dried basil and dried mushrooms can be put to good use if you make a pot of chicken alla cacciatora -- reconstitute the mushrooms and add both the shrooms and the water. Make sure you toss in some rosemary for flavour.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Not a spice per se, but for me it's that bottle of Rose Water I've had since 1974. I'm thinking we could all pool our saffron, cardamon, arrowroot, and rose water together and make some bad-ass kulfi-type ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ladelfa

                                                                                                                                                            I LOVE rose water!! I just bought 2 more bottles. :) Of course, I don't know if I'd drink any from '74... It does last a long time, though. Before I got totally hooked on it, I had my first bottle for probably a good 7 years.

                                                                                                                                                            You can add rose water to cookies. I'd say a simple butter cookie is best. (I add it to my kourambiethes - yum, very subtle but definitely improvement. Many traditional kourambiethes (a Greek cookie) recipes have rose water, although no one in my family ever used it. I decided to add it to mine, and I'm glad I did.)

                                                                                                                                                            I also use it on a regular basis in my iced tea. I put about 1 - 2 teaspoons in a tall glass of tea. It's delicious!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Dried bay leaves... Bought a POUND (any idea how many that is???!!!) when I was making potpourri and still have a huge bag left...

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: scrapcatb

                                                                                                                                                              LOL OK, I can sort of relate (on about 1/2 the scale, although I didn't make potpourri, either.)

                                                                                                                                                              I don't use bay leaves all that often (much to my mother's shock!) I had purchased a big container of bay leaves (the bulk kind at Sam's), and I apparently forgot that I had done so and purchased another one. Right after that, my sister-in-law gave me a huge bag of leaves from her grandmother's bay tree, about doubling my supply.

                                                                                                                                                              I used some to ward off bugs in the cupboards (in S. Louisiana, I do anything I can to ward off bugs, and the bay leaves are supposed to help). I think it's time for a new sprinkling of bay in the cupboards because I still have 2 almost full containers, and they are getting too old to use. (Although I might like them better with age weakening their flavor a bit!)

                                                                                                                                                            2. All of a sudden, I can't seem to find rosewater. I go thru periods of using it all the time (it's awesome with barley, dried fruit, nuts and honey), to year long stretches without using it.

                                                                                                                                                              I keep buying and tossing Coleman's Dried Mustard. It sits around for a year or so, I dump it, immediately remember that I must have it for all those things I don't use CDM in. This cycle has continued for more years than I'm comfortable admitting. I'm pretty sure this pattern will continue until I die.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rockykay

                                                                                                                                                                If you have an ethnic grocer (Greek, Middle East) in your area, you should be able to find it there. One of our Greek/Lebanese delis sells it, too.

                                                                                                                                                                You can also make your own.

                                                                                                                                                                And you can find it online. A quick Froogle search listed several places that carry it.