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Spices on the cheap?

Anyone know of a cheap place to stock up on spices preferably around brookline or west roxbury/roslindale? The supermarket prices seem a little high.

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  1. I'm afraid the issue of expensive spices is a millennium-old problem. To some degree, you'll always have to pay a fair amount for even mid-grade quality.

    I've found some good value at Trader Joe's, especially for very expensive spices like saffron.

    Not in Rox/Ros, but Christina's in Inman Square has pretty competitive prices. A few of the Middle Eastern grocery stores in Watertown are supposed to be good too.

    One trick: if you buy whole spices instead of ground, they'll last longer and taste fresher when used. I keep a second coffee grinder on hand just for this purpose.

    1 Reply
    1. re: finlero

      Second the TJ's option for decent quality at reasonable prices.

      One very cheap option is Ocean State Job Lot, but the closest one to you could be Randolph or Norwood. They carry a brand called Spice Supreme ( http://www.gel-spice.com/spice_suprem... ) and usually have quite a variety, but you get what you pay for. I happen to like their pickling spice mix, and also use their sesame seeds, poppy seeds, bay leaves etc. but I mostly keep them as a backup for when I cant get or run out of the good stuff.

      (edit) And oh yeah, the Penzey brand spices mentioned by rlh below are WAY better, I have not gone to any local stores but get their stuff online regularly.

    2. I THINK the quality to price value ratio is really high at Penzey's in Arlington Heights (or online) - they seem to be the freshest with a wide range of mainstream spices (whole and ground) always available.

      1. Frontier bulk spices at Harvest Co-Op in Central Square have the best prices we've found for reliable quality.

        1. TJ Maxx and Homegoods has some good ones.

          1. Your best bet are Indian grocery stores; there are a few in Brookline. You'll get four or five times the amount for a fraction of the price.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bookgirl

              cool, I don't know any of the grocery stores, mind recommending a few?

              By the way thanks for all the suggestions. Arax sounds great, as does harvest co-op and I will have to hit those up.

              1. re: bookgirl

                Farmer's Bounty on Elm St in Davis Square has a bunch of indian spices- haven't bought them myself, but the prices are good. I go there for the packaged Indian meals- my go-to non-cooking dinner.

              2. There is a Harvest Co-op in Jamaica Plain. It's self service, so you can get as small amount of spice as you wish. Very reasonable.

                Also, Bay Sweets in W. Roxbury sells spices by the ounce. I just purchased some shawarma spice last week from them last week. Haven't tried it yet but I can tell you it is very aromatic. Think it was only 50 cents. They told me that restaurants purchase it from them so it made fresh on a regular basis. I'm hoping to duplicate the wonderful shawarama chicken I got at Falefal King in Quincy Center.

                Either place, you can't go wrong. And if you go to Bay Sweet, they make a nice hummus, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bearzie

                  I second this. I find it's better to buy in small amounts fresh unless its an spice that you use a lot. Last night I bought a little dill weed for 50 cents that was fresh and much cheaper than I could get even at Penzy's. I also use the Indian and Middle eastern Stores. For Brookline, West Roxbury, Roslindale, I would suggest Bob's Pita Bakery and Bay Sweets and the Indian place at Cypress and Harvard and the one on Harvard South of Beacon.

                  1. re: SaraASR

                    Araks and Severns in Watertown on Mt. Auburn - Indian stores in Brookline used to have more but still have some - try Bazaar in Brookline for some spices

                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      It's Arax and Sevan, btw. They have tons of spices - they all look fine to me and an incredible value when you think about how little you get in those little packs at the supermarket.

                      I bought a medium sized baggie of "saffron" for $1.99 last weekend at Arax - huh? How can that be, right? It must be some sort of substandard saffron, although it appears to taste like the real thing.

                      Similarly, I have bought a big bag of star anise at one of the Indian stores on Moody Street for like $3.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        Hey Bob,

                        Just curious -- was it saffron powder? Or actual saffron threads?

                        1. re: finlero

                          Finlero - It was definitely not powder. But it also was not threads like you typically get. It was like flowery shards.

                        2. re: Bob Dobalina

                          I agree with your Arax recommendation. They seem to have a good rate of turnover on the spices I buy (typically cinnamon, cumin, coriander, dried oregano, bay leaves, whole black and white peppercorns, etc.) so they're fresh and flavorful. Plus the prices and the variety are great. It's also my go-to place for ingredients for my home-made hummus. No more supermarket spices for me.


                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            thanks bob, i do mangle the names but love the places!

                            1. re: teezeetoo

                              No prob, tz2 - just helps for board search purposes, etc.

                      2. The Harvest Co-Op is my go to place for spices. I also dry my own fresh herbs I buy. Normally I only need a little for a recipe and then the rest ends up sitting in the fridge. Since starting to do this, I don't end up wasting.

                        1. One cheap option is the little packets of spices sold in the Spanish foods aisle of places like Star Market. For a buck or less you can pick up enough oregano or thyme to refill a $4 McCormick's jar.