HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

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

Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 12:34 AM

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)
  1. p
    personalcheffie RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 12:35 AM

    Cream of tartar.

    13 Replies
    1. re: personalcheffie
      Chuckles the Clone RE: personalcheffie Dec 26, 2006 04:03 AM

      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
        personalcheffie RE: Chuckles the Clone Dec 26, 2006 04:08 AM

        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
          cayjohan RE: Chuckles the Clone Dec 26, 2006 07:08 AM

          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
            Cinnamon RE: cayjohan Dec 27, 2006 05:23 AM

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

        2. re: personalcheffie
          RShea78 RE: personalcheffie Dec 26, 2006 04:29 AM

          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
            personalcheffie RE: RShea78 Dec 26, 2006 04:35 AM

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

            1. re: personalcheffie
              RShea78 RE: personalcheffie Dec 27, 2006 12:37 AM

              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
            Dommy RE: personalcheffie Dec 27, 2006 11:22 PM

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


            1. re: personalcheffie
              personalcheffie RE: personalcheffie Dec 30, 2006 01:43 PM

              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
                Amuse Bouches RE: personalcheffie Jan 1, 2007 10:04 PM

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

                1. re: personalcheffie
                  Heatherb RE: personalcheffie Jan 3, 2007 05:33 PM

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

                  1. re: Heatherb
                    allegro805 RE: Heatherb Jan 3, 2007 06:03 PM

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

                    1. re: allegro805
                      personalcheffie RE: allegro805 Jan 4, 2007 02:01 PM

                      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. a
                  allegro805 RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 12:44 AM

                  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
                    coll RE: allegro805 Dec 27, 2006 11:31 AM

                    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
                      LindaWhit RE: coll Jan 1, 2007 09:39 PM

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

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        kloomis RE: LindaWhit Jan 3, 2007 04:59 PM

                        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
                          wawajb RE: kloomis Jan 3, 2007 05:31 PM

                          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
                            LindaWhit RE: wawajb Jan 3, 2007 07:22 PM

                            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
                              wawajb RE: LindaWhit Jan 4, 2007 11:56 AM

                              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. c
                    ciaogina RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 02:02 AM

                    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. t
                      torty RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 02:03 AM

                      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. p
                        personalcheffie RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 02:07 AM

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

                        1. Candy RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 02:37 AM


                          1. cayjohan RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 02:45 AM

                            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
                              fara RE: cayjohan Dec 26, 2006 05:11 PM

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

                              1. re: cayjohan
                                SweetPea RE: cayjohan Dec 26, 2006 09:16 PM

                                marjoram & eggs!

                                1. re: SweetPea
                                  Dommy RE: SweetPea Dec 27, 2006 11:19 PM

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


                              2. m
                                MobyRichard RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 05:20 AM

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

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: MobyRichard
                                  cayjohan RE: MobyRichard Dec 26, 2006 05:26 AM

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

                                  1. re: cayjohan
                                    luv2bake RE: cayjohan Jan 2, 2007 10:21 PM

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

                                  2. re: MobyRichard
                                    SweetPea RE: MobyRichard Dec 26, 2006 09:16 PM

                                    bloody mary!

                                    1. re: MobyRichard
                                      free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: MobyRichard Dec 27, 2006 04:45 AM

                                      I like it in leek soup.

                                      1. re: MobyRichard
                                        LindaWhit RE: MobyRichard Jan 1, 2007 09:41 PM

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

                                        1. re: MobyRichard
                                          anjhstmom RE: MobyRichard Jan 2, 2007 06:42 PM

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

                                          1. re: MobyRichard
                                            kloomis RE: MobyRichard Jan 3, 2007 05:01 PM

                                            I always put that in my tuna salad.

                                          2. w
                                            wazup1999 RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 05:26 AM

                                            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
                                              cayjohan RE: wazup1999 Dec 26, 2006 05:37 AM

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

                                            2. krissywats RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 05:28 AM

                                              Arrow root

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: krissywats
                                                cayjohan RE: krissywats Dec 26, 2006 05:36 AM

                                                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
                                                  krissywats RE: cayjohan Dec 26, 2006 06:42 AM

                                                  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
                                                    cayjohan RE: krissywats Dec 26, 2006 06:59 AM

                                                    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
                                                      krissywats RE: cayjohan Dec 26, 2006 05:04 PM

                                                      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
                                                        QueenB RE: krissywats Dec 26, 2006 07:09 PM

                                                        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
                                                          personalcheffie RE: QueenB Dec 26, 2006 08:51 PM

                                                          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
                                                            allegro805 RE: personalcheffie Dec 28, 2006 12:30 AM

                                                            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
                                                              krissywats RE: allegro805 Dec 28, 2006 05:27 AM

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

                                                              1. re: allegro805
                                                                coll RE: allegro805 Dec 28, 2006 11:33 AM

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

                                                        2. re: cayjohan
                                                          krissywats RE: cayjohan Jan 1, 2007 06:30 PM

                                                          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
                                                            ali patts RE: krissywats Jan 2, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                            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
                                                            scrapcatb RE: cayjohan Jan 10, 2007 05:52 PM

                                                            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
                                                          ladelfa RE: cayjohan Jan 3, 2007 05:30 PM

                                                          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
                                                            personalcheffie RE: ladelfa Jan 4, 2007 02:02 PM

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

                                                        4. re: krissywats
                                                          twodales RE: krissywats Dec 27, 2006 02:03 PM

                                                          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
                                                            anjhstmom RE: krissywats Jan 2, 2007 06:41 PM

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

                                                          2. p
                                                            perigord lover RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 07:34 AM

                                                            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
                                                              nutrition RE: perigord lover Dec 26, 2006 08:28 AM

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

                                                              1. re: perigord lover
                                                                Das Ubergeek RE: perigord lover Dec 26, 2006 04:00 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  jen kalb RE: perigord lover Dec 27, 2006 05:33 PM


                                                                  1. re: perigord lover
                                                                    Dommy RE: perigord lover Dec 27, 2006 11:20 PM

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


                                                                    1. re: Dommy
                                                                      coll RE: Dommy Dec 28, 2006 11:34 AM

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

                                                                      1. re: Dommy
                                                                        luv2bake RE: Dommy Jan 2, 2007 10:27 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          Johnresa RE: luv2bake Jan 10, 2007 04:54 PM

                                                                          Okay now I want to try that...lol

                                                                      2. re: perigord lover
                                                                        luv2cookinIowa RE: perigord lover Dec 28, 2006 04:17 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          Dommy RE: luv2cookinIowa Dec 28, 2006 04:35 PM

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


                                                                          1. re: Dommy
                                                                            luv2cookinIowa RE: Dommy Dec 28, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: luv2cookinIowa Dec 28, 2006 08:42 PM

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

                                                                              Welcome to Penzey's Addiction Central!

                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                LindaWhit RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 1, 2007 09:43 PM

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

                                                                          2. re: luv2cookinIowa
                                                                            luv2bake RE: luv2cookinIowa Jan 2, 2007 10:31 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                            bolivianita RE: perigord lover Jan 26, 2007 11:37 AM

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

                                                                          4. b
                                                                            boppiecat RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 03:37 PM

                                                                            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. Das Ubergeek RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 04:01 PM

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

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                luv2bake RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 2, 2007 10:32 PM

                                                                                Ditto on the cardamom!

                                                                                1. re: luv2bake
                                                                                  Dommy RE: luv2bake Jan 4, 2007 05:02 PM

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


                                                                                2. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                  Heatherb RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 3, 2007 05:28 PM

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

                                                                                3. twodales RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 04:54 PM


                                                                                  1. toodie jane RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 05:08 PM

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

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: toodie jane
                                                                                      bolivianita RE: toodie jane Dec 27, 2006 05:43 PM

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

                                                                                      1. re: bolivianita
                                                                                        toodie jane RE: bolivianita Dec 28, 2006 06:41 PM

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

                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane
                                                                                          jillp RE: toodie jane Dec 30, 2006 05:55 PM

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

                                                                                          1. re: jillp
                                                                                            allegro805 RE: jillp Jan 3, 2007 03:36 PM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                        amyzan RE: toodie jane Dec 27, 2006 08:28 PM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          isadorasmama RE: amyzan Jan 2, 2007 06:45 PM

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

                                                                                      3. c
                                                                                        christy319 RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 05:54 PM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          RShea78 RE: christy319 Dec 27, 2006 01:10 AM

                                                                                          >>>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
                                                                                            christy319 RE: RShea78 Dec 27, 2006 04:05 PM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                              Kelli2006 RE: RShea78 Dec 27, 2006 08:19 PM

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                          2. QueenB RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 07:11 PM


                                                                                            1. d
                                                                                              dipipi RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 09:10 PM

                                                                                              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
                                                                                                MobyRichard RE: dipipi Dec 27, 2006 01:21 AM

                                                                                                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.

                                                                                              2. jillp RE: Johnresa Dec 26, 2006 10:06 PM

                                                                                                Another vote for fenugreek.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: jillp
                                                                                                  Cinnamon RE: jillp Dec 27, 2006 05:25 AM

                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                    allegro805 RE: Cinnamon Dec 28, 2006 12:32 AM

                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                      LindaWhit RE: allegro805 Jan 1, 2007 09:45 PM

                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                    asm_ny RE: jillp Jan 1, 2007 10:06 PM

                                                                                                    Another fenugreek. Also annatto, marjoram...

                                                                                                  3. Andiereid RE: Johnresa Dec 27, 2006 04:09 PM

                                                                                                    Pumpkin Pie spice

                                                                                                    1. amyzan RE: Johnresa Dec 27, 2006 08:30 PM


                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                        allegro805 RE: amyzan Dec 28, 2006 12:34 AM

                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                          whirlingdervish RE: amyzan Dec 28, 2006 12:49 AM

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

                                                                                                        2. w
                                                                                                          whirlingdervish RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 12:48 AM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                            Das Ubergeek RE: whirlingdervish Dec 28, 2006 03:46 AM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                              whirlingdervish RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 28, 2006 06:04 PM

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

                                                                                                              1. re: whirlingdervish
                                                                                                                QueenB RE: whirlingdervish Dec 28, 2006 10:34 PM

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

                                                                                                            2. re: whirlingdervish
                                                                                                              Dommy RE: whirlingdervish Dec 28, 2006 07:10 PM

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


                                                                                                              1. re: whirlingdervish
                                                                                                                Amuse Bouches RE: whirlingdervish Jan 1, 2007 10:07 PM

                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                  Dommy RE: Amuse Bouches Jan 4, 2007 05:03 PM

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


                                                                                                              2. l
                                                                                                                laur76 RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 11:47 AM

                                                                                                                all spice

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: laur76
                                                                                                                  Chuckles the Clone RE: laur76 Dec 28, 2006 03:40 PM

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

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Chuckles the Clone Dec 28, 2006 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                    Isn't that why it's called "all spice"?

                                                                                                                2. sweetie RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                  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. c
                                                                                                                    chef poncho RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 04:44 PM

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

                                                                                                                    1. notmartha RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 09:23 PM

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

                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                        coll RE: notmartha Dec 28, 2006 11:30 PM

                                                                                                                        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: coll
                                                                                                                          personalcheffie RE: coll Dec 29, 2006 04:08 AM

                                                                                                                          And in Saurkraut!

                                                                                                                          1. re: personalcheffie
                                                                                                                            coll RE: personalcheffie Dec 29, 2006 09:56 AM

                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: coll Dec 29, 2006 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                              I put fennel seeds in my tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                                coll RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 29, 2006 04:37 PM

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

                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                                  personalcheffie RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 30, 2006 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                    LindaWhit RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 1, 2007 09:48 PM

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

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: LindaWhit Jan 3, 2007 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                        LindaWhit RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 3, 2007 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                    Judith RE: coll Jan 1, 2007 10:09 PM

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

                                                                                                                                2. re: coll
                                                                                                                                  notmartha RE: coll Dec 29, 2006 03:09 PM

                                                                                                                                  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. g
                                                                                                                                grubn RE: Johnresa Dec 28, 2006 10:26 PM

                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                  coll RE: grubn Dec 28, 2006 11:31 PM

                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                    krissywats RE: grubn Dec 29, 2006 04:48 AM

                                                                                                                                    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. revsharkie RE: Johnresa Jan 1, 2007 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: revsharkie Jan 1, 2007 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                        Judith RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 1, 2007 10:13 PM

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                          notmartha RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 2, 2007 03:21 PM

                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                          chef chicklet RE: revsharkie Jan 1, 2007 09:35 PM

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

                                                                                                                                        3. IndyGirl RE: Johnresa Jan 1, 2007 10:09 PM

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

                                                                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                                                                            Judith RE: Johnresa Jan 1, 2007 10:12 PM

                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                              jillp RE: Judith Jan 1, 2007 10:43 PM

                                                                                                                                              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: jillp
                                                                                                                                                Judith RE: jillp Jan 1, 2007 11:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                What do you use it for?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Judith
                                                                                                                                                  SauceSupreme RE: Judith Jan 2, 2007 03:26 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Judith
                                                                                                                                                    jillp RE: Judith Jan 2, 2007 10:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                    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: jillp
                                                                                                                                                      allegro805 RE: jillp Jan 3, 2007 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Ditto. Love it with chicken.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Judith
                                                                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: Judith Jan 3, 2007 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                    luv2bake RE: Judith Jan 2, 2007 10:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                    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. h
                                                                                                                                                    HillJ RE: Johnresa Jan 2, 2007 09:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: HillJ Jan 3, 2007 05:25 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                                                        HillJ RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 3, 2007 07:09 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                    2. n
                                                                                                                                                      Nehna RE: Johnresa Jan 2, 2007 10:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Ras El Hanout

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

                                                                                                                                                      1. f
                                                                                                                                                        FaithNJ RE: Johnresa Jan 3, 2007 02:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                          Das Ubergeek RE: FaithNJ Jan 3, 2007 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                          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. l
                                                                                                                                                          ladelfa RE: Johnresa Jan 3, 2007 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                            luv2bake RE: ladelfa Jan 3, 2007 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                            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. scrapcatb RE: Johnresa Jan 10, 2007 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                              luv2bake RE: scrapcatb Jan 23, 2007 08:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                              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. r
                                                                                                                                                              rockykay RE: Johnresa Jan 10, 2007 07:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                luv2bake RE: rockykay Jan 23, 2007 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                                              Show Hidden Posts