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Mar 24, 2013 07:06 AM

Let's talk about Penzey's:

Just got a new catalog, and while I don't read the whole thing obsessively, it's much more fun than most. Does anyone have any favorite spices/blends there? Have you ever been to a Penzey's store? Tried their recipes?

I've been to the store once, and enjoyed myself a little too much. It's interesting that I can drop close to $50 on a bag of what is essentially (legal) powder. I absolutely lurve the Pizza Spice blend, which makes everything taste like pizza. A tablespoon of that in some crushed tomatoes makes the perfect pizza sauce with no cooking required.

(While recommendations for other spice/herb shops are welcome, please don't just come post negative comments about Penzeys - that's not what this discussion is about.)

I have also been to the Savory Spice store and still can't figure out what to do with the Tomato Powder I just had to have.

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  1. Got a jar of "Horseradish Dip" mix, made a salad dressing recipe in their catalog w/it, pretty good. Tried their Taco Seasoning blend, nothing special. Spicy Chili Seasoning pretty spicy. We really like peppercorns and stuff from the store but don't go too often - like you said it's easy to spend a lot of money.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Samalicious

      I wish there was a store near me. I love the spices, especially the peppercorns. I'll have to try that pizza spice blend.

    2. Fortunately, there are 2 Penzey's by me and I like going to the store to smell the spices and blends for myself (and redeeming a freebie!).
      I found a world of cinnamon open up to me... never knew there are so many types.

      1. I've been to a store, and I did love it. The various cinnamons and vanillas were a great find, as well as the wide variety of dried peppers from around the world.

        However: <which makes everything taste like pizza> is my one beef: with so many jars of blends, tastes become generic. I much prefer to buy individual spices--which, in defense, Penzey's has plenty of--to blends.

        1. I have a Penzey's in my town and do almost all of my spice buying there. I don't buy much in the way of blends, but I do like their sandwich and pasta sprinkles.

          11 Replies
          1. re: emily

            One thing I like about purchasing in the store is that the jars are glass. From what I remember, when I ordered from the catalog, the jars were plastic.

            1. re: emily

              I think they've switched entirely to glass jars. I actually preferred the plastic jars because they were smaller and I could fit more in my spice cabinet, and in the boxes I have for overflow. And I didn't have to worry so much about them breaking when I accidently knocked them down because they are stacked so high in my spice cabinet. What can I say, I'm a Penzey's addict!

              1. re: AmyH

                I'm the other way around - I love the switch to glass jars (I hate plastic). I've just made more room for them. But if it really bugs you, save all your plastic jars - buy the larger bags of spices and refill your jars. (Freeze the extra so it doesn't lose its flavor.)

                P.S. I'm addicted to Penzey's Aleppo Pepper, Sunny Spain, and the Bavarian Blend. I can't live without them!

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  I do buy the bags of spices and refill the jars. But all the newer items are still in glass. It's not one of life's major problems, just a little thing that makes me sigh when I open my spice cabinet. I guess when one falls out and explodes on the tile floor it'll become a bigger issue.

                  Tuscan sunset, florida seasoned pepper, shallot pepper, lemon pepper, baking spice and northwoods are some of my favorites.

                  1. re: AmyH

                    I was curious why some items were in plastic jars while others came in glass at Penzey's. The explanation was that shallots don't fare well in plastic so they are always in glass jars.

                    1. re: AmyH

                      You needn't worry. Store clerks told me that their jars are designed so that in a fall, the lid will crack instead of the glass. No idea how that is possible. But twice I have had jars fall from the rack onto the tile floor. Sure enough, the lid cracked the first time. Second time neither broke. Better still, they told me if the lid cracks, let them know & they'll give me another. Clearly they know something about winning loyal customers.

                      1. re: RavaIdli

                        Oh wow...I've had the jars fall, lids cracking as well. I'll have to ask about getting new lids

                        1. re: RavaIdli

                          How interesting that they designed them that way! I have also had a jar fall and the lid crack. I thought I was just very lucky. Next time I'm in the store I'll ask for a new lid. Thanks!

                          1. re: AmyH

                            Ditto on the lid breakage.

                            But, being frugal, for many of the spices I've just bought the packages and transferred them to the collection of empty Starbucks Frappucino bottles (you know, the ones that look sort of like old timey milk bottles from the side). The average Penzey's bag fits well into one.

                            1. re: shallots

                              I love that idea! I don't drink Sbux Fraps though.

                          2. re: RavaIdli

                            Nothing to wonder about. they're using flint glass, which is pretty impact resistant (used a lot on old sailing ships). Apparently the plastic is less impact resistant (who knew?).

                            I love flint glass.

                2. We go a few times a year to whichever Penzey's store happens to be where we are when we're on a road trip. Nowadays, almost all of the herbs and spices I own came from Penzey's.
                  I'm not a fan of blends, and have tried several of theirs from the 'Kind' gift box of samplers they gave a year or so ago. One I particularly do like is called 'Forward'. It is excellent on baked sweet potato wedges, or sautéed chicken, or roasted vegetables.
                  I like their products, and ounce for ounce, the price is way better than the stuff you get at the supermarket. And I just feel that it's fresher from Penzey's.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                    Another fan of Forward here. It's like seasoned salt without salt.