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Spices to stock up on

I'm headed to my local bulk spice store (and I know how lucky I am to have one) tomorrow to get the things I use frequently in home cooking such as coriander, pepper, fennel seeds, maybe cardamom?
I was wondering if anyone wanted to recommend something I should add to my pantry? I've been sticking to spices with which I'm familiar, but the prices are good so I'm willing to experiment. I did once buy a ton of turmeric which I pretty much never use except to make my macaroni and cheese a bit more orangey.
Trying to avoid doing that again.

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  1. You probably know best what you like and use the most. For me I have to have a good quality black pepper, sichuan pepper which can be harder to find might be good one. Cinnamon quailty can really vary so I always keep my eye out for a good one. The herb I go threw the most is oregano, that I can 'stock up on' and not worry if I will use it all.

    What do you frequently use fennel seeds for?

    I don't like to stock up on spices unless I know Im going to use them fast. Tho I do have a ton. You probably mean just get from a good place and not necessarily 'stock up'.

    Just neat to browse. hard to suggest. What kind of food you like to cook?

    2 Replies
    1. re: daislander

      Interesting questions.
      I use fennel seeds ground with other spices in rubs, as well as for adding to Italian bulk sausage or meatballs cause to my husband the seeds are what makes great Italian sausage and I can't entirely disagree. I like it in my meatloaf too! Just a tiny bit.
      But usually when I cook I grind spices on the spot in a little coffee grinder just based on what I'm making at the moment. Fennel and coriander see a lot of action. I combine what I think will best compliment the dish with some coarse salt, grind, and apply to the dish. I like ground coriander on chicken and pork, cumin for grilling and smoking, dried garlic pretty much anywhere.
      My typical weekday cooking is usually grilled, roasted or braised meat, salad or roasted veggies.
      We stay away from starches most of the time.

      1. re: iheartcooking

        yup wouldn't be italian without it! sounds like maybe you might like a good dry basil... I hated the stuff I could get here and thought I hated dry basil. Then a friend brought some back from Italy. Great in sausages, soups, a herby salad dressing, dosnt come close to fresh but better then store bought dressing!

        of you like cumin/coriander on meat maybe some harrisa or zaatar for a herby mix good on meats and veggies.

    2. I agree with daislander that you probably what you use the most and therefore should stock up accordingly.

      Coriander seed, fennel seeds, and black peppercorn are great. I can also recommend anise, star anise, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, and Szechuan peppercorn. If you want to stock up, then make sure you stock up whole spices. Ground up spices lose their flavor rather quickly.

      1. One can't never have too much turmeric because of its many uses. You can use turmeric in many dishes and drinks (put some in your chocolate or coffee for healthier drink). Marinate fish in lots of turmeric and lemon before grilling or panfry together with the spices. It is known for its many medicinal attributes, such as curing arthritis, cleanse the liver, etc. etc. I use turmeric in my facial scrubs by mixing it with plain yogurt.

        Get various whole seeds if you are stocking spices. Never buy the ground ones. In many cases it is mixed with flour.

        4 Replies
        1. re: roro808

          I bought some fancy expensive protein shake powder from a naturapathic dr last year for a cleanse. Worked great. One of the main ingredients is turmeric. Very anti inflammatory and good for you. Even a tsp everyday is good for you. I have a friend who takes a bunch in a smoothie now. Very inexpensive for how good it is for you. I am guessing this will be something the prices is going to go up on.

          1. re: daislander

            If you live in a hot or temperate state, you can grow it easily. The turmeric leaves can be used to enhance the fragrance of curry. The old turmeric root is very good to cleanse your blood system by slicing it thin and boil it, add sugar to taste and little vanilla or pandan if you like. It also boost your metabolism.

            1. re: roro808

              I do see the root for sale about once a year maybe I will try it in a greenhouse. It been snowing for 3 days. = not good place to grow turmeric. how much of the root do you use for a 'dose'?

              1. re: daislander

                If you like making fresh ginger tea, it should be the same amount to make turmeric tea. To sweeten, use either honey or brown sugar. Make sure the turmeric is reallyold root for intense flavor.

        2. I never buy spices in bulk as they would always pass their "use by" date before we had.

          That said, I confess to being a little lost as to why the OP is asking for a random recommendation of spices that we might use in our own cooking but may not feature in her/his. But, to enter the spirit of things - sumac.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            Sumac was going to be my suggestion as well. If the OP likes coriander, cardamom and fennel, all of which have bright, floral flavors, sumac would be a complement.

            Aleppo pepper (also called Halaby spice or pul biber) is a versatile chile that comes with a salty, lemony finish that might also appeal. Good paprika and bay leaves are also always good to have on hand in terms of versatility.

            1. re: JungMann

              I second the Aleppo pepper recommendation, great stuff.

            2. re: Harters

              Buying bulk is OK as long as it is whole seeds...can last for a very long time. I have coriander seed/clove/s/cumin/ crdamom pods that I have kept for over three years and still OK when I toast and grind them.

              1. re: Harters

                Sumac was also going to be my suggestion. It's a fun ingredient to use.

                Harters, BTW my spice shop sells spices in very small quantities... down to 1/2oz quantities. It's way cheaper than buying a larger bottle at the grocery store for astronomical prices, not to mention fresher because they grind in-store weekly.

              2. Smoked paprika. I love it in so many things.

                1. Whole nutmegs and whole star anise. I like to keep a minimum of 1/2 lb of Tellicherry peppercorns at all times.

                  I always have an ounce of bay leaves, caraway, coriander, cumin, fennel.

                  The only spices that I buy ground are mustard and cinnamon, only because the whole cinnamon is usually of an inferior grade.

                  1. I think it is nice to have the basics on hand
                    Thyme, Marjoram, Parsley, Basil, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Herbs D' Provance, Mint, Dill, Dried Mustard. Tarragon, Paprika. Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon.

                    This is a base list that come to mind of things that typical euro-centric/n. American recipes call that I am often looking for in the spice bin I am sure there are more

                    I would also consider adding a mild Indian curry, a Jamaican jerk style spice blend and chili powder and a Chinese 5-Spice powder to cover some international recipes and add some zing to your pantry.

                    LOL I also have a huge turmeric that I just forget to use, it is supposed to be good for dogs but I keep forgetting to put in in their food.

                    1. In addition to what you mention, I suggest whole cumin seed, white pepper corns, and in general whole spices, which keep much longer. Turmeric is generally sold ground and, like other ground spices, has a 3-6 months shelf-life.

                      You might consider whole cloves, although I don't fancy clove myself.

                      1. it would probably be a good idea NOT to get spices that you use infrequently because almost all spices degrade with age as they sit inside your spice cabinet.
                        even good spices turn into ____.