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best brand of cooking spices

There is such a wide gap between quantities, brands, and cost per ounce that it is very confusing. For discriminating cooks obviously all cooking spices are not created equal. Therefore if you can't grow it or buy it fresh, just don't use it. An eighth or a pinch of anything isn't going to make a difference after age 30 when 1/4 of your taste buds are dead anyway. Commercial spices,price differentials and over-all dubious quality are at best a joke. They are no big deal.

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  1. I totally disagree with you.

    At least I think so. I admit to not really understanding what your point is.

    8 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      My point is this: The Bulk of this countries' Spices come from other countries. We don't even grow our own garlic.
      The quality of foreign Spice has always been suspect. Dried Spices were dead to me after a year on the shelf. Even my Penzey Spices slept with the fishes after a year. I grow all my spices or buy them fresh. In a nut-shell, Dried Store bought spices suck!! Save money and buy your own seed.

        1. re: Leepa

          It Does and thank-you for your time.

          1. re: fourunder

            Oh No! Not Gilroy again. Well I guess I'm Done here!!

            1. re: gbrainard5575

              I must know why you dislike Gilroy? Did you have a bad experience there?

            2. re: fourunder

              And even if you don't see the farm(s) you will surely smell the garlic!

        2. thus, buy bulk organic from a retailer that has a lot of traffic (so that you have the highest possibility of turnover).

          and, i disagree that a pinch won't make a difference - i'm over 30, and if you put a pinch of bird's eye pepper in my soup i can tell it's there!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: rmarisco

            Thanks for your input. I'm taking notes.

          2. I haven't had any problems with spices, even those I have had for years

            4 Replies
              1. re: Alan408

                Maybe you didn't recognize that the flavor had diminished, because it does.

              2. ???

                Are you asking what the best brand is or are you saying that no brands are good or are you saying don't use spices because they don't matter because you can't taste them? Color me confused.

                I can't grow my own saffron and don't think I could make worthwhile paprika but that doesn't stop me from making risotto milanese or chicken paprikash. And yes I would notice if they weren't in either of those dishes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodieX2

                  All of the above.Trust Me!! Sometimes In order to get a response of any magnitude you just have to gore some ones Ox. I gored your Ox thus coloring you confused enough to evoke a excellent response and useful information which is appreciated. Color me Crafty. (Or Not)

                2. I'll agree that prices are all over the place. As an example I recently bought a pound jar of ground turmeric at an Asian foods store - better quality an infinitely cheaper than McCormicks

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: gbrainard5575

                      Forgot - the price $4 for a whole pound of turmeric

                  1. I know which invitation to dinner I will be declining....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fourunder

                      Now that was cold, I barely got to know you. I'm really a good person.

                      Dogs, Cats, Christmas Trees and Children belong outside. Gbrainard5575

                    2. From speaking with their competitors I know that McCormicks is highly regarded for quality/purity in the spice trade. That being said, I buy spices in Asian & Indian stores that are infinitely cheaper.

                      1 Reply
                      1. There are a lot of spices that won't grow in my part of the world, and aren't sold fresh, and that can be used with no problems if they are dried (bay leaves, anyone?)

                        My ox is completely healthy and uninjured.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: gbrainard5575

                            please name me a climate where every single spice and herb will grow equally well.

                            Then please tell me how it is anyone should just happen to have a few extra acres on which to grow a single species of crocus.

                        1. Living in the Midwest US, I have found it best to grow my own herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme etc) and to buy spices as "whole" as possible in local "ethnic" (Indian, Thai, Chinese....) markets (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.)
                          I then toast and grind as needed.
                          Often I just make a bouquet garni in cheese cloth and float the darn things in sauces and soups.
                          Whole peppercorns and chunky sea salt are,thankfully, easy to find these days, and I keep both in grinders near the cooktop.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: pedalfaster

                            Damn I love that answer. I finally struck Gold. Will copy this one indeed!! The clincher is to buy them whole from the appropriate source and grind them my-self.
                            I can grow what I can. Thank-You for your time and response. Learned a lot from everyone and am having fun too.

                            1. re: gbrainard5575

                              so responses only have value if you agree with them? Interesting.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Checkout " pedalfaster" and my response to him. Also see "marisco" and my response to him.
                                Might I be so bold as to inquire whether or not you read "foodieX2" lead-in ??? Read it again carefully

                                Respectfully Gbrainard5575

                                1. re: gbrainard5575

                                  I think you completely misunderstood my response.

                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    sir, Your opinion was crystal clear and taken seriously. Would you have responded if I hadn't confused you? With all due respect I think not.

                            2. re: pedalfaster

                              I've grown basil. The plants are so prolific that it's a mystery to me why the darn stuff is so expensive.

                              1. re: kagemusha49

                                I agree and I also feel that way about mint and cilantro.

                                When I found an outstanding source for vanilla beans (100 beans for $20.00) I told everyone I know they were over paying.

                                To each their own...but stay open to the idea that quality does exist, yes?

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Me too! I have been buying vanilla beans in bulk for about that same price. I also buy most spices at ethnic stores because they are such good quality and can be bought in bulk. Vanilla is outrageous in the local grocery.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    HillJ, where do you buy 100 vanilla beans for $20? Are these Tahitian or Mexican beans? You've got my full attention with that post . . . I thought I was doing well paying $1 for three "A" grade beans at the big central market in Mexico City. I guess not!

                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                      Right now prices are a bit higher across the vanilla bean world; in some cases even out of reach altogether so right now I'm buying whole vanilla bean at 1/2 lb prices, still a great value here: http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Produc... and here:
                                      http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.html. A half pound is anywhere from 36-48 beans. A full pound 80-100 beans sold by weight.

                                      I called both suppliers before posting for you just to double check.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Wow! Thank you very much! I'll be placing an order soon. My peeps love vanilla flan more than life itself, I think. I use whole vanilla beans, and pulverize them in a vitamix with the other liquid ingredients. It creates an extremely intense vanilla experience, if you're into that (personally, I'd rather have chocolate). Thank you, HillJ!

                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                          Oh my pleasure. Good business people in those two links. I adore vanilla and haven't been stingy with it in many years. Even at current prices, you can not beat theirs.

                                          Right now I have a casserole dish of roasting pears going infused with a a bean and some bourbon.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I'll be right over. That sounds heavenly

                                2. I wouldn't be able to adhere to your suggestion. I buy spices and some herbs I prefer dry in 2 oz qtys through a company in Seattle. I buy whole and grind my own and I don't buy a large amount at one time. While I grow a few herbs for use and not just ornamental enjoyment ( my garden is primarily ornamental) I still buy either fresh locally or dry through Seattle. And, any spice or herb that would never been avail through my local sources would def be bought via (again) Seattle because I completely trust their global sourcing and expertise.

                                  You need to find a reliable, well priced supplier like this:


                                  1. This is an odd thread. The market for spices has been worldwide throughout recorded history. Now, when transportation is so much easier, we should limit ourselves to local spices? Why? This is ridiculous.

                                    When I buy herbs and spices by mail, it's usually from The Spice House, which gets them from around the world. Otherwise, I get them from a supermarket in a variety of brands, sometimes fresh, sometimes not. There is no one rule for everything.

                                    I'm more than twice 30 and I can taste my seasonings well enough to want to use them.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      I'm with you on everything you say, except that I am a Penzey's fan. Either SH or P I buy in their store.

                                      I do think calling it "odd" was too kind, however.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        Well said, GH1618, well said! I'm a Penzey's fan now, but many decades ago, I bought my spices in bulk from Frontier. http://www.frontiercoop.com/products/...

                                      2. The Penzey's spices I buy seem to retain their flavor quite well for me.

                                        Buy smaller quantities to have fresh. And I've had good luck with some of the spices at WF.

                                        And how would you grow basil year round?

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          I'm in the sub tropics, there are many herbs that won't grow here, including my beloved cilantro. I'm also not interested in trying to harvest my own saffron. Basil grows well for approximately six months (not consecutive) out of the year. I'm very happy to pay money to others, including my local farmers, to grow my herbs and spices. YMMV

                                          1. re: MrsPatmore

                                            The same seller (the poster) I recommended for v. beans sells saffron, dried mushrooms, extracts and paella pans.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              Ooh, good to know. I've been buying saffron at Penzey's, but I realize that is probably not the best source. Thanks again for the tip, HillJ! PS if I buy any more paella pans, I'll also need a good divorce attorney! :-)

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                HillJ, theposter.com also sells canned huitlacoche, (corn smut). I just added to my order as I love love love huitlacoche and it's hard to find

                                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                  Now that is one item from them I have not purchased so, I will be very interested to read how you found the corn smut quality!

                                              2. re: MrsPatmore

                                                Me too, Mrs. Patmore. Especially for spices. I have been liking some of the freeze dried herbs and fresh herbs I've been finding in the grocery store lately. But with spices, I'm happy to buy.

                                            2. There are quite a few garlic farms in California.

                                              1. I grow some and buy some.
                                                I do not use 1 year as an arbitrary cut off date for spices being bad. I have found that some herbs and spices degrade quickly while others last for years. Some just mellow. Method of storage can determine how long herbs/spices last. I have also had plants that I grow diminish or change taste over time.
                                                Taste is a very interesting thing. Some people are supertasters and some have fewer taste buds and have diminished taste. Age can change the way you taste but this too varies person to person. I am curious where you got the statistic that everyone over 30 has lost 25% of their taste buds. People also just taste things differently. Taste can be affected by illness, medications or smoking. It can be affected by other things you have been eating.
                                                The bottom line is to do what works for you but don't assume everyone tastes exactly the way you do. My sister is a super taster so can only tolerate tiny amounts of seasonings. She has to dilute fruit juices as they are "too tasty". She is in her late 50s. You might be a person that requires higher levels of flavor compounds to taste them.
                                                My favorite place to buy spices is an Amish store that I get to a couple of times a year. They sell in small quantities, very inexpensively and they have rapid turnover.

                                                1. I'm quite happy with the quality of my store-bought spices with some variation of happy.

                                                  The chilli powder I get in Singapore is not as hot as the chilli powder in the grocery stores in Sri Lanka, so when I'm in Sri Lanka or people I know from Sri Lanka are coming here, I stock up. My MIL just brought me six bags of 250 grams each of chilli powder. That ought to last me, well, not quite a year. I don't know yet about the quality of chilli powder in Malaysia.

                                                  Turmeric - I can get decent ground powdered turmeric, but fresh turmeric root is also easily obtained here, and I use both for different purposes. The fresh turmeric root tastes good, as does the fresh ginger, galangal, and garlic.

                                                  I can even get decent basil, cilantro, and mint here, along with chives, rosemary, sage, and other herbs not native to the region. All are decent quality with good flavour.

                                                  So, this whole "Therefore if you can't grow it or buy it fresh, just don't use it" thing is poppycock as far as I'm concerned. And really, quite a strange assertion anyway.