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Best Spice Brands?

So I've had my Dean & Deluca spice rack for a while now, and it's time to freshen up. Rather than shell out another $150 for the refills from D&D, I figured I could fill up the cute jars with different brands. Who does everyone think makes the best spices, either as a company overall or for specific ones? Spice Island is my #1 for cumin as well as chili powder, but I don't yet have faves for anything else.

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  1. I order online from Penzey's. Quality is excellent, and you can order small quantities.

    3 Replies
      1. re: missfunkysoul

        penzey's for me too most of the time, but i go my local indian asian shop for very good cardamom, garam masala, etc.,

        my sisters and i will often get a penzey's bulk order together which is extremely cost effective.

        1. re: missfunkysoul

          Penzey's for most. Ground ginger from Spice Islands.

        1. Penzey's, or if you don't feel like mail-ordering, most McCormick spices are good (but go for the glass jars rather than plastic when possible).

          1 Reply
          1. re: katydid13

            Penzey's are great, but if you are in New York, check out Kalustyan's on Lexington Ave, around 28-29th Sts. Don't know if they sell online, but they have great spices.

          2. We have an excellent local company called Savory Spice Shop. I prefer them to Penzey's. You can order online from them at http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/

            1. Penzey's is great, and they have a retail store in Norwalk...very convenient. Besides freshness, there are many varieties and blends to choose from. Salt-free is a biggie, since most grocery blends contain way too much salt. I would start listing all of the flavors I've tried, but it would be a long list. I even have three different kinds of cinnamon, since I bake all the time, and it's nice to try different strengths. My all time favorite and the one that finds its way into many gift bags...Sunny Paris. Give it a try.

              1. Count me in as another vote for Penzey's. Since I live in rural Vermont, I don't have a lot of options other than mail order. I ADORE Penzey's. I can count on them, and they always give me something new to try for free with my orders. :)

                1. Penzey's is OK, and depending on where you live they have stores as well as mail order. But definitely a local Indian grocer for many items (coriander, seed and ground, cumin, seed and ground, cardamon, black and green, & etc), also for certain things (orange peel, Chinese cinamon & etc) a local Chinese grocer. Also, around here some of the small "natural" stores co-operate with herb gowers for some of the dried herbs like sage, thyme & etc. I find these fresher than the bottles.

                  1. Penzey's! I often do group orders with friends so we can divide the larger bags & save $. Their catalogs have lots of good info too. I keep hoping a shop will open in my area, but until then I always check the store listings before I travel domestically so I don't miss a stocking up opportunity.

                    1. I am fortunate to live in the area where Penzey's started. I love going to the stores. Walking in I breathe in very deeply and just savor the moment. I look forward to the postcard in the mail that promises a free gift of one of their spices/herbs.

                      1. Seven years too late, but here is an Indian chipping in with his 2 cents. One point to consider is, what spices do you use, how much you use of each, and what is your turnover rate?

                        A normal Indian home uses a LOT of certain kinds of spices and their ideas of quantity, quality and value for money could be very different from what is suitable for your particular needs. Some of these spices are purchased in pound quantities and some in smaller lots, that are still very dear. In NO case would I ever buy from Penzeys or Kalustyan's, the latter a Bangladeshi bunch I know well. The prices are extortionate and sit well with the boutique cook who cooks from "Gourmet" recipes and is an occasional dabbler in these particular cuisines. Otherwise, unless the person is very rich or wants bragging rights, these two establishments offer little value for money.

                        Next, a type of Mexican or Peruvian home that uses a lot of certain kinds of chiles, e.g. yellow chiles, and specific Mexican chiles, and certain Mexican spices, on a daily basis, would seek to buy these in bulk as well. C.Alden Spices,has great values for bulk quantities of certain chiles, Peruvian yellow chiles, among them. This is where I should buy my Hispanic chiles, for domestic cooking.

                        If you REALLY know what you are doing and can shop carefully, comparing prices with other Indian mailorder stores, then http://shop.khanapakana.com/spices-he... offers good bargains at times for large quantities. Pistachios, sour plums [alu bukhara] and many other specialty items go on sale. Items dear to the heart of the North Indian banquet cook are to to be found here at excellent prices, e.g. bulk mace arils of various grades. But you need to be familiar with a particular style of cooking to derive much benefit from this website.

                        There are specific sites to go for saffron and vanilla.

                        I find myself feeling cheated, mocked and wickely patronized by the superior and patronizing tone and extortionate pricing of both Penzey's and Kalustyans, who are praised to the sky by a band of gushing devotees who feel well-served by them. There is vicious circle: food writers promote a small group of favored sites, wealthy clients migrate to them, find them good, and become devotees. There is no thought given to other sites that also sell the equivalent albeit less slickly packed, less convenient, less alluring to the Upper Crust, but far more economically priced.

                        These people purchase from the same bulk importers that supply budget brands like Laxmi and Swad, except that they spin their merchandise far, far better!! Perceptions sell, and also, who you know!

                        Frontier Spices is a reasonably decent mid-level brand for American spices and American style curry powder. One and two pound pouches that are found in restaurant supply stores and which can be kept in the freezer.

                        I should love to learn what is that Penzeys and Kalustyans do better that the above houses cannot provide cheaper, fresher and of higher quality? I feel sick to the stomach when I look at extortionately prices California olive oils harvested from hedgerow orchards!

                        1. I prefer Badia brand spices to Penzys, but I do like Penzys for cocoa powder. Badia's cumin and garlic powder are excellent and cheap!