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SD: Best place to buy spices?

mliew Aug 19, 2007 11:27 PM

Does anyone know of a good place to buy spices in San Diego near the La Jolla area? Usually I just buy my spices in the supermarket because I'm lazy, but I know that the quality is low and the prices are high for most of the stuff. Thanks.

  1. c
    Cathy Aug 20, 2007 12:38 AM

    Henry's sells spices by the ounce/bulk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cathy
      DiningDiva Aug 20, 2007 11:52 AM

      It's not that close to La Jolla, but Windmill Farm's in Del Cerro (SDSU area) sells a very wide range of bulk spices. I've purchased quite a bit from them and have been very happy with the quality and freshness. While I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendation for Penzy's, if you only need a very small amount for a specific recipe or two, buying in bulk from someplace like Windmill Farm's or Henry's makes more sense. Spices tend to loose their punch fairly quickly, buying smaller quantities in bulk and using them i[ more frequently helps prevent that problem.

      (Henry Boney's kids opened Windmill Farm's once their non-compete clause ran out after Wild Oat's purchased Henry's)

    2. Josh Aug 20, 2007 08:47 AM

      It depends on what kinds of spices you're looking for. If you're looking for spices particular to a specific ethnic cuisine, your best bet is a market specializing in those kinds of ingredients. The turnover will be more frequent, and you'll have a better chance at getting fresh spices (and the prices will be far cheaper than a supermarket).

      I've gotten incredible saffron, for example, by going to Persian markets in Clairemont. You get a large amount of quality saffron for much less than you would at a grocery store.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Josh
        ekomega Aug 23, 2007 09:19 PM

        Persian saffron is the best (I'm biased by being half-persian), although there is politics involved now in getting saffron that is actually from Iran. I hear Spain is now re-growing its saffron production because of the political climate about importing products from Iran, and expectations that the market for persian saffron will dwindle.

        Spanish saffron is also excellent.

        1. re: Josh
          kudru Aug 24, 2007 07:44 AM

          What/where are the best Persian markets in Clairmont? Thanks!!

        2. s
          susan3733 Aug 20, 2007 09:12 AM

          I prefer to go online to www.penzeys.com to buy spices. I find that the selection is great, prices are decent, delivery is fast, spices are fresh and you can select various sizes, even very small quantities.

          1 Reply
          1. re: susan3733
            menuinprogress Aug 20, 2007 09:20 AM

            I second Penzeys. We've been using them for years and have always been very pleased with them.

          2. m
            mliew Aug 20, 2007 01:35 PM

            Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'm mostly looking for typical american spices, nothing fancy, just stuff like whole peppercorns, paprika, etc. I've been buying my spices from Henrys and the price is very good, but I wasn't sure how good the quality is or how the turnover rate is since some of the stuff looks like its been sitting on the shelf for quite a while. I probably don't use enough to make it worth paying shipping to buy online, but I'll check out Penzys.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mliew
              Cathy Aug 20, 2007 01:54 PM

              It probably hasn't been at Henry's for more than 3 years, like some of the tins I found at the back of my shelves...plus at Henry's, stored in sealed screw top jars.

              Now I only buy what I need when I need it (certain spices only for Holiday baking or wet/chili weather or Summer cooking). My one exception is the Herbes de Provence at Costco. I get that large jar and add lavender flowers from Henry's bulk. I use HdP year round.

              1. re: mliew
                Josh Aug 20, 2007 02:32 PM

                Henry's quality is mixed, IMO - mainly because the locations vary, and sometimes the bulk spices are old. I've generally liked the stuff I've gotten from Whole Foods, actually, but it's pretty hard to use spices fast enough to get around the loss of flavor. I invested in a lot of Indian spices, and have been keeping them in the freezer. That actually has been working out pretty well.

              2. b
                Beach Chick Aug 20, 2007 01:41 PM

                I see that Costco has added an area with tons of spices..cheap peppercorns.
                I go to Henry's as well.
                There is a place off of Miramar that used to sell some great Indian spices..

                1. k
                  kudru Aug 24, 2007 07:46 AM

                  the Ocean Beach People's Co-op has a huge array of bulk spices, and most of them are organic if you care about that sort of thing. The spices are in the corner with the supplements/beauty products.

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