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Dec 29, 2011 11:26 PM

DTW: Spices?

I'm a chowhound n00b and a grocery n00b, so excuse my ignorance.

I'm learning the variation on price in spices depending on where you go, and was wondering the best priced places for spices in the area.

I liked the small "you scoop" bulk spice selection at Golam Produce at Packard and Platt in A2.
I was hoping for something like that with a bigger selection elsewhere? I'd prefer something in the A2/Canton/Westland area, but I'll venture out farther if its worth it. It's just difficult to scour every ethnic grocery store for the best deal with gas at these prices.

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  1. Welcome n00b! Ask any question you Ann Arbor, the best places to buy spices in bulk are By the Pound on Main, People's Food Co-op near Kerrytown, and Spice Merchants in Kerrytown. A bit further abroad is Penzey's Spices in Birmingham, but I tend to buy most of my spices by mail order from their original store in Wisconsin because you can get virtually anything there and I am rarely in Birmingham. I find them excellent and very well priced. If I need something in a hurry, I'd try one of the local places I just mentioned. Happy cooking!

    1 Reply
    1. re: momskitchen

      Thanks for the recommendations. I'll definitely use Penzey's in a pinch, however, I just priced their crushed red pepper out to be twice the price per pound of Golam. I'll also definitely check out People's next time I'm at Sparrow.

    2. Plum Market also has bulk spices. Not sure how the prices compare.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rheta

        Thanks, I plan on checking out Plum and Whole Foods bulk spices to compare.

      2. I second the recommendation for Penzeys. My family's been getting spices from them for close to 20 years. We've never had a problem.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Goneril

          I'm a loyal Penzey's customer. They have a great selection of spices and the in-store customer service is excellent. (I've never done online business with them.) Make sure you sign up for the catalog, It always has many interesting recipes -- and usually has coupons for a free or deeply discounted product.

        2. There are several spice vendors at local farmers markets that are not nearly as expensive as Penzey's. Royal Oak Farmers Market has Dirty Girl Farms, Eastern Market has Sue's Spices and The Old Winery in Farmington has Earth's Legacy (which is all organic spices). I can't say for sure about Dirty Girl but I know both Sue's Spices and Earth's Legacy are really fresh. I have special ordered large amounts from Sue's and they were SUPER fresh.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jack Freeman

            @Jack - I'll have to check out the R.O. Farmer's Market or the Old Winery one of these days. Spice sellers aren't a possibility at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market because it's a producer market - i.e. everything sold has to be made by the vendor and most spices are imported to Michigan. When do they run?

            1. re: momskitchen

              Happy New Year!

              Royal Oak is 7am to 1pm every Saturday. I know they have a Friday market as well but we have never been on Friday so I'm not sure which, if any, of the vendors are the same as the Saturday market.

              The Old Winery is every Saturday until the beginning of the regular Farmington Farmers Market season, don't quote me on this but I think their last market day is April 28th, they are open from 9am to 2pm.

          2. Aladdin grocery in that same Packard/Platt strip has some good bulk spices at rock-bottom prices. Between that and the other ethnic groceries in the area you might get quite a repertoire for very little money.

            5 Replies
              1. re: Jim M

                You mentioned that the red pepper at Penzey's is twice the price of that at Golam. You'll run into even higher prices at Whole Foods and Plum, and the spice sellers at the farmers markets aren't easy on the wallet either.

                Jim M hits the nail on the head by suggesting ethnic groceries. They always have the lowest prices, and typically have very fresh products, since their turnover is quite high. I can't say I'm terribly familiar with ethnic markets in Ann Arbor, Ypsi, Canton, Westland areas. But, just about any Middle Eastern and/or Indian grocery will do. Once you find a pound of cardamom for a buck, you'll never be able to buy spices elsewhere!

                If you venture as far as Dearborn, there are a ton of Middle Eastern markets there, flush with spices. Super Greenland is one that comes to mind.

                1. re: jjspw

                  Dearborn...duh! Why did I not think of that? Don't they call Dearborn the area with the most Arabs outside of the Middle East? Next time I'm in that direction I'll definitely try some mid-eastern groceries out that way, thanks.

                  1. re: jjspw

                    In Warren, I just stopped into a place on Hoover between 12 and Common called "Shepherd" and it has buckets of Middle Eastern spices. I don't think they carry red pepper, though. They did have Iranian bread that was fantastic, however. It was made in a pizza oven and cost 25 cents each.

                    1. re: jjspw

                      Yikes - a lb of cardamon is more than I'd use in a lifetime....LOL.