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penzeys question

Hello everyone! Im just getting into Penzeys and have went crazy ordering! There are some items that I noticed are almost the same thing like Arizona Dreaming and Southwest or Greek Seasoning and Ruth Ann's! Anyone else know any other spices that fall into the "you probably don't need ______, if you have ______) category. It would come in handy for people like me that don't stay near a Penzeys and has to order."

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  1. Don't know if this will help, but I'd rather the "straight" spices/herbs and make my own blends, to the flavors/strengths that I want. That way I'm not overwhelmed by premixed bottles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pine time

      I think you have a point there. I've seen a lot of popular spices that seem to have that one ingredient that I am not a fan of. Making my own blends would totally eliminate that problem.

    2. they have good dried chiles both whole and ground
      as well as peppercorns and salt-

      4 Replies
      1. re: jpr54_1

        So disappointed they discontinued the ground Jalapeno powder. The person working at Penzey's that day couldn't tell me why they no longer carry it. I guess I could call corporate, but it's kind of low on my priority list at the moment.

        1. re: justalex

          So disappointed they discontinued the ground Jalapeno powder
          I just got a jar of it from the Spice House. http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/j...

          1. re: al b. darned

            i think they have dried jalepeno's. I love the aleppo peppers and think the ancho chili powder has such a beautiful color. At some point, I think I would like to check out the cascabel peppers.

            1. re: sundayegirl

              They have dried jalapeno pieces but I too regret the discontinued jalapeno powder

      2. I usually stick with just the regular herbs and spices vs. their blends. Just my personal preference.

        My "always make sure I have on hand" Penzeys items are:

        Turkish oregano
        French thyme
        sweet Hungarian paprika
        Ground ginger
        Ground mustard
        Vietnamese ground cinnamon
        medium-hot chili powder
        whole nutmegs
        ground sumac
        Aleppo pepper

        3 Replies
        1. re: LindaWhit

          I soooo love the aleppo pepper! Its my favorite purchase so far. I have the mexican oregano, maybe I should try the turkish..

          1. re: sundayegirl

            I soooo love the aleppo pepper!
            Wow. I thought it was kind of meh, with little flavor.

            1. re: al b. darned

              Really? I guess everyone has there own preferences. I love the flavor of it on my pizza so much more than red pepper flakes. Sometimes i even put it in rice or veggies.

        2. LOVE the Pasta Sprinkle, Tuscan Sunset and Mural of Flavor. I like the fact that you can just get a little jar to try a spice/blend out, and consider myself very lucky to have a Penzey's store not far from me! They have all of their products in apothocary jars so that you can take the lids off and smell.

          BTW, once you determine what you like, it is more economical to buy it by the bag and the put it into your own jar. My daughter and I split a big bag of Pasta Sprinkle, for instance. I have also purchased little jars, bags of spices, then split them out to make little gift baskets for friends.

          11 Replies
          1. re: PattiCakes

            PattiCakes, I was bummed when they removed the Aleppo pepper from the Tuscan Sunset blend....since it's supposed to be salt-free (the TS), and Aleppo pepper is processed using salt (according to Penzeys), they stopped using it. Luckily I kept an old jar of the TS so I could see the ingredient list in the order listed so I can attempt to make my own TS blend in the future when I run out of the older version with Aleppo.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              what others chiles r processed with salt?

              1. re: jpr54_1

                Don't know. I just remember reading in Penzeys' catalog when they changed the Tuscan Sunset blend that Aleppo pepper was processed/dried with salt, and since they advertised the Tuscan Sunset as being salt-free, they were removing Aleppo as one of the ingredients.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                What are the ingredients? I have the new tuscan sunset blend and aleppo! Would it be the same if I just added aleppo every time I used tuscan sunset?

                1. re: sundayegirl

                  I'm not sure of the ingredients, sundayegirl. I'll have to remember to look at home. I *think* they added something else to the salt-free Tuscan Sunset and it slightly changed the taste (to me).

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    i did a little research in case anyone else is curious and it seems that the original ingredients were basil, oregano, Aleppo pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, anise. I think they used red bell peppers instead of aleppo in the new mix, but it sounds like most preferred the orginal blend. hmm. this may be my first homemade blend.

                    1. re: sundayegirl

                      There you go. I know I had posted about it here on CH awhile back when the blend changed. The only 2 things I'd need would be fennel (fronds, I suppose?) and anise (not sure how in what form it's used and I'd probably leave it out).

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        haha! I just realized that was you! I will have to try that..without anise. I'm thinking I might try a little pizza seasoning with tuscan sunset and aleppo too! Might give a similar taste

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  ARRRGG! (OK, yesterday was "Talk Like a Pirate Day). That's just not right. I am very low sodium, but taking the Allepo out? Serious overkill.

                  1. re: PattiCakes

                    Well, they market the Tuscan Sunset as "salt free". I suggested that they have two types of Tuscan Sunset blends - one with and one without salt, but they didn't seem to like that idea.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      yeah, that would be a great idea! The only complaint I have so far with penzeys is there fear of salt. I'm not a big salt person, but I think they should have more salt options like smoked salts. It seems a lot of people were fans of the original blend. I think if you change the blend you should change the name, so not to confuse people. Its just like them saying sunny paris is salt free version of fox point, (which its not IMO), but they kept fox point. If that makes sense.

              3. Some of the blends are close but not that close....meaning, you might not have all of them in your cupboard at the same time, but probably you would have one you'd use a lot and I'd have a different one I'd use a lot.

                I wasn't wild about the Greek Seasoning--OK, but not so much that it bumps blend-my-own-- but I do use the Tuscan Sunset, Mural of Flavor, and the Chili 9000 Blend. Yes, I could "blend it up to order" myself and sometimes I do add a little of this or that to a blend, but the prepared blends that I happen to like are awfuly handy.

                IOW, it's up to you. Some people would rather make a Bisquick magic piecrust than buy a boring old commercially-blended garam masala, while others are happy with the convience and reproducibility of a blend made from quality spices, or even prefer a company's blend to their efforts at home.

                If you ever get to a Penzey's though, do it. It is worth the price of admission just to walk around the store and stick your nose into the sample jars!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Brrrb

                  I've actually been to Penzey's before, but I only had about 10 minutes until closing and it just wasn't enough time. I've ordered quite a bit, but I definitely wish there was a store closer. Some things I love, some things were um..just ok, and some things I thought were kind of similar. I guess that's to be expected from blends though.

                2. The majority of my spice cabinet is filled wit Penzey's. I am fortunate to have 4 stores in close driving distance. I have never purchased any of their blends but have quite a few. They give a free jar frequently with purchase. I will admit STRONGLY disliking any blend that has salt as one of the ingredients. To me they are way too salty. The others are just so-so with the exception of their Adobo, which is outstanding. Their herb blends are good too ~ like herbs de provence and bouquet garni.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Scoutmaster

                    I much prefer the salt-free blends, too, but I always thought it was because I sometimes like to have a heavy hand with the herbs.

                    As for "you don't need _____ if you have ______"...that's tough at Penzeys, especially if you cook enough to go through the herbs and spices before they go stale. Before going in there, I didn't know I'd find a use for three different kinds of cinnamon!

                    1. re: Brrrb

                      Good point! I started with the vietnamese cinnamon only, but after getting the cinnamon sugar I'm so tempted to try some of the other kinds.

                      1. re: sundayegirl

                        The Vietnamese, Ceylon, and Tung Hing cinnamons are each quite different. I don't know how to describe it, but the Ceylon seems perfect for apples and other fruit. It has more of the floral qualities of cinnamon without so much of the "hotness", while the Vietnamese is both very hot and has a different mixture of aromatics. I suppose if I had to choose one, I'd either use the Tung Hing or else their three-cinnamon blend, but I'm happy I don't have to choose!

                    2. re: Scoutmaster

                      I actually thought about getting adobo, but opted for arizona dreaming instead. I'm convinced that I'm probably going to have to keep buying small jars until I get familiar with them enough to figure out my favorites.

                      1. re: sundayegirl

                        I like their Adobo very much--especially since it doesn't have any added unnecessary stuff (MSG?) as other brands include. I use it in my tacos, chili, pork stew and so on. Small jars are a good idea. :)

                      2. re: Scoutmaster

                        Penzey's herbes de Provence is my favorite HDB. It's very well balanced.

                      3. I was given a jar of the Northwoods Fire by a visiting relative, and a jar of Aleppo Pepper by a visiting friend, and those two became required items for grilling chicken, or similar exercises. The other blend I love is the Parisien, a lovely green herbal mixture I got just a small jar of, because I figured it'd have a short shelf life. But I love it so much in scrambled eggs (which we have 4 or 5 times a week) that it's time for more, provided it's still being made. I say that because Mrs. O went into the store in Portland when she was up there, and all she could find was a very different Parisian Herbs blend.

                        She's on my case now to find a use for the Szechuan Peppercorns she brought back, but it has to be vegetarian. That's gonna be fun to find!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Parisien differs how from Sunny Paris? I love Sunny Paris with cheesy eggs. Ahh, wait, Google is my friend.

                          Here is Parisien Bonnes Herbes:
                          Hand-mixed from: chives, dill weed, French basil, French tarragon, chervil and white pepper.

                          And here is Sunny Paris:
                          Hand-mixed from: shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf.

                          And Northwoods Fire is a big favorite, too.

                          sundayegirl, you are so right about Southwest and AZ Dreaming...at least I picked up the latter as a freebie. :)

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            Cool! I actually have a slight preference for arizona dreaming over southwest..Very similar though in my opinion. I purchased parisien which I think is fantastic, but so far I think its like chives with pizzass lol. I almost feel like I don't need chives. I guess time will tell.

                          2. Sunny Paris Seasoning 2.6 oz. 2 Cup $36.35

                            I have friends who love the stuff, but at that price, there's no way it will ever be found in my cupboard. Freeze dried shallots? Ummm, I'd rather have fresh any day.

                            Hand-mixed from: shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf.

                            I'm not sure why the mix is so expensive - to my knowledge, other than freeze-dried shallots, tarragon is the most expensive herb in there, and even it doesn't approach $14 an ounce! I guess the green peppercorns are pretty expensive as well, but still.... It's mostly either much cheaper herbs, or herbs that really ought to be used fresh anyway (like shallots and basil).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                              Just get the 1/4 C size for $5.59 Then you'll know if you like it or not or can replicate it on your own.

                              1. re: Cathy

                                Nah, I don't care even $5 worth, LOL! I'm just as happy actually cooking from scratch when I'm cooking from scratch, LOL!

                            2. Just so you don't get too hung up on one company, I order Chef Paul Prudhomme's Pasta and Pizza Magic from his site (chefpaul.com), and a couple of others. But the P&Pmagic really is magic to us, we've overused it due to its fabulous taste, and are ratcheting back, but I tell you, speaking as one who nearly never uses "spice mixes", I do use a couple of his.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: EWSflash

                                Thanks! I'm going to have to check that out!

                              2. I've been a fan of Penzeys since forever. I'm originally from Madison, WI, where I believe their first retail store opened, so I'm an early adopter of Penzeys products. Over the years, I've become less enchanted with the cost of some of their products when I believe I can get comparable quality and at a lesser price elsewhere. And even though I'm in the Pacific Northwest now and am still close to their retail outlets, I'd just as soon go to a neighborhood ethnic grocery for the "hard to find" herbs and spices I use. That said, I am addicted to their natural high fat cocoa powder for baking. I feel it makes a huge difference in taste and even maybe in texture in the results, even compared to other high end cocoas. I recommend it if you are a baker. I suppose that doesn't help OP much since I didn't suggest what not to buy. OP, maybe you could clarify and tell us what sorts of things you like to cook and bake?

                                P.S. If anyone from Penzeys is reading this, please update your website's look and feel. I don't think that design has changed since 1999 and it is not charming, just highly unusable.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: team_cake

                                  P.S. If anyone from Penzeys is reading this, ...

                                  Here! Here!

                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                    +2. I actually prefer the old paper catalog over the website.

                                  2. re: team_cake

                                    Your comments are very helpful! And I absolutely agree with you on the website! There is a lot of great written information, but some pictures would be nice. The navigation is extremely annoying and having a "best sellers" list, would be beneficial.

                                  3. I don't use many spice mixes, either, but I've become addicted to Penzeys Forward!

                                    I have used their California Seasoned Pepper, Black and Red Spice, Sunny Spain, and Italian Herb Mix for decades.

                                    Most of my spices come from there or The Spice House. http://www.thespicehouse.com/

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                      California Seasoned Pepper is good on SO MANY things! I love it on fresh tomatoes with mozzarella...and roasted chicken...and...

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        I use CSP more than regular ground black pepper.

                                    2. They frequently send coupons for free jars of various products, usually the blends...I generally haven't bought the blends unless I've gotten the free jar and liked it, or sniffed it in the store and decided to give it a go.

                                      You're right, though, some of those blends are close to indistinguishable!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                        Now thats a great idea! Good way to avoid wasting money on things you may "almost" already have, if that makes sense..

                                      2. I've never bought any Penzey's product. Almost all my spices come from the Chinese or Indian or Spanish/Hispanic groceries, with the odd one or two from the local Fresh Market or (rarely) Marsh supermarket.

                                        Have you tried getting some stuff from a Chinese/"Asian" or Indian place, at least those spices one would typically find there?

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: huiray

                                          I've never bought any of my Indian spices at Penzey's, except for peppercorns. My Indian grocery has very fresh and inexpensive products, and even Penzey's doesn't carry amchur (well, not that I know of...)

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            Indeed. The stuff at Indian places have always been decent/fresh and cheap, compared to almost any other place. As for stuff like dried thyme, oregano etc - the Hispanic places/Fresh Market have furnished decent stuff in bulk (even at Fresh Market) at decent prices. I get my peppercorns from either the Chinese or Indian places - I prefer the Chinese places, which would have good stuff at good prices too. White peppercorns? From the Chinese place.

                                            1. re: pine time

                                              Not everyone has immediate or nearby access to Indian / Asian / Hispanic / Turkish / Greek / whatever-ethnicity local groceries.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                I can't imagine a city having a Penzey's, but not a single Asian market.

                                                And if you're talking buying mail order, you can as easily (and more cheaply) buy such spices via the Internet from an online Indian grocery as you can from Penzey's.

                                                I do buy the vast majority of my spices from Indian or other Asian markets. I've only ever placed one order with Penzeys, and I forgot to put the marjoram on it, daggumit!

                                                BTW they are having free shipping on orders of $30 or more through Oct 14, 2012

                                                1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                                  But again - not *everyone* lives in or near a big city where the availability of various ethnic markets is prevalent.

                                                  And having the convenience of one place to shop online is also a possibility of someone using Penzeys vs. searching online for separate Indian, Asian, Hispanic sites that will sell what the shopper is looking for.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    As I said, if you're shopping online - thereby recognizing that "not *everyone* lives in or near a big city".

                                                    Penzey's still doesn't carry everything you would need to cook Thai, Hispanic, Indian, or other ethnic Asian cuisines, so you'd still need to hunt up sources for the missing spices; why not just get all of them from the same source? And the savings can be significant, if you do use a lot of a particular family of spices.

                                                    I've nothing against Penzey's per se but they are pretty durn expensive for some things, compared to other online sources.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      The closest Penzeys is a lttle under 2 hours away from me, but I'm not sure if we have an asian market place or not. I have ordered from the Spice and Tea Exchange and Ihave browsed a few other suggested sites as well. It is easier to order from popular places with lots of reviews when you have to go by trial and error. And the free shipping special going on right now at Penzeys is a huge plus! I hate paying for shipping.I just always feel like I could have used that money towards more product.

                                                    2. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                                      "I can't imagine a city having a Penzey's, but not a single Asian market."

                                                      I live about 10 minutes from the nearest Penzey's. The closest Asian market is roughly 35 miles from there.

                                                    3. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Still, even if one has to buy online, there are other places to get them besides Penzeys. Just saying.
                                                      Three CH threads on this:
                                                      Then there's this... http://www.google.com/#hl=en&amp;suge...

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        I have found savory spice shop has excellent spices and even their blends esp. se asian r great

                                                        they also carry some spices not found at other sites

                                                        long pepper
                                                        mignonette pepper
                                                        whole mace
                                                        tomato powder
                                                        pickling lime

                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                          I have browsed that website also but haven't made an order yet. They have a lot and the prices looked great!!

                                                  2. re: huiray

                                                    My city has a huge HEB grocery store with a spice section that you can purchase by the weight. They actually have a pretty nice variety and very inexpensive prices. I will have to check around and see what else is around here. Thanks for the tip!

                                                  3. for blends - we like the greek seasoning, and the sandwich sprinkle.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                      I love the sandwich sprinkle! I have about 3 of them because they have been including them as mail in freebies here lately.

                                                    2. I have great local source for you name it and a PENZEY'S off my habitual path.

                                                      Always go out of my way for PENZEY 'S smoked ,Spanish paprika and anise seed.Both are stellar.
                                                      All the chilies I have tried are good as are the list you need to pickle.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                        I purchased the sweet paprika, but I've been hearing so much rave about the spanish smoked paprika. I'm adding that to my next order!

                                                        1. re: sundayegirl

                                                          I love Penzey's. Before I discovered them, I used to buy my spices at the supermarket. Penzey's is so much better! I've even given spices from them as gifts and everyone loves them. My favorites are:
                                                          Vanilla extract
                                                          Cake spice
                                                          Baking spice
                                                          Chicago steak (this is so good on..steak!)
                                                          lamb seasoning (just perfect for lamb)
                                                          smoked paprika
                                                          Trinidad lemon garlic marinade (this is really good mixed into melted butter and used to dip artichoke leaves in)
                                                          freeze-dried chopped garlic
                                                          Aleppo pepper
                                                          BBQ 3000
                                                          Florida seasoned pepper
                                                          taco seasoning, regular and hot
                                                          Cajun seasoning