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Are you a herb, spice and seasoning junkie?

On my recent visit to a Persian market in NY, I walked out with a bottle of pomegranate syrup(I assume it's the same as molasses), a bottle of rose water, a bottle of za'atar and smoked Hungarian paprika. I also wanted to pick up dried limes they had but decided not to.
On my recent trip to Whole food, I picked up a jar of cardomom. At home, I must have at least 2-3 different bottles of thyme and rosemary. I have bottles and packages of seasonings and spices in my pantry, in my kitchen cabinet...and other places. I have 10 yrs old jerk seasonings from Caribbean, packets of various Greek spices from Greece....and old spices from trips from places. I have some Chinese spices like star anise and 5 spice powders for bbq.
I fell in love with za'atar and have been using it a lot...i especially love it in sauteed onion. There are other spices I'd love to purchase like dukkah. I just get so greedy!

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  1. The flavor of spices tend to diminish over time, so that is pretty much stopping me from hoarding them. I try to limit my purchases to whole spices and toast/grind them in my mortar and pestle as I need them. Doing this lengthens their shelf life but after 3-4 years, I throw them away. Quality over quantity is much more important to me.

    3 Replies
    1. re: GOJIRA

      I agree with Gojira. I try to only buy what I can use in a reasonable amount of time.

      I love visiting Penzy's, since I can get a small bottle of an herb or spice to "try it out" and then if I find I'm using it a lot, I can buy a larger quantity.

      1. re: GOJIRA

        I'm with you on this - it also helps in terms of working through different cuisines/recipes at a time. I have a fairly standard Middle Eastern selection of spices around - but I recently bought nutmeg for a recipe, and now I'm trying to find other recipes that use nutmeg (and other spices I already have) so I make the most of it. I would much rather buy spices in as small a quantity as possible.

        1. re: cresyd

          Check out Armenian Nutmeg Cake. There are sundry recipes out there, some more complicated than others. I made this one recently and it worked out well. http://www.food.com/recipe/armenian-n...

      2. Who me? I wondered about the flavor in some saffron I used the other night since it was several years old. A friend gave it to me, something her brother had picked up in his travels. It was in a plastic case inside a very nice cardboard box. I'm trying to use up what I have and just replenish the essentials from the bulk containers at the food coop. But, I also made a visit to Penzey's where I thought a friend was going to share my purchases so I bought larger sizes than I should have. What is worse, is the numerous condiments I have. Got you beat on the Caribbean jerk seasoning, I think I have a bottle of maubi syrup that's about 25 years old. I know, it needs to be tossed. I just keep forgetting it's there.

        1. there are so many good different herbs and spices to try
          http://www.kalustyans.com/
          www.igourmet.com

          they are the best

          1 Reply
          1. re: jpr54_1

            I have one shelf in kitchen cabinet filled with spices, etc.
            I buy sample sizes most of the time-
            I keep some spices in refrigerator- chillies, paprika, garlic powder.

          2. I wouldn't say junkie, but I cook a fair amount of South Asian and Middle Eastern food which means I have an entire cabinet dedicated to spices and herbs. Now maybe I don't *need* to have Aleppo, Isot, Sichuan, whole red, ground red, black and white pepper, but it certainly does help to ensure I never have a dull meal at home.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JungMann

              The more middle eastern food I know, the more curious I get and more I love the cuisine.
              I'd love to be invited to your house over dinner. =) or at least share your 10 favorite recipes here! You seem to be a true foodie.

            2. Nope, not a junkie at all.

              I have the herbs and spices that I need for things I cook regularly. Occasionally, I'm obliged to buy something new for a recipe and it irritates that it gets used once and then gets thrown out two years later when it hits its "use by" date.

              1. Pomegranate syrup is sometimes called pomegranate molasses but it's taste is not similar to actual molasses. I don't use it frequently but when I do it's usually to add tart notes.

                As for spices, add me to the non-hoarder list. I'm now fortunate enough to have a nearby grocer who sells in small quantities (at equally small prices). I'm also near a grocer that sells Indian spices in bulk at very low prices (for example, I can get a pound of whole mustard seed for a buck and change).

                1. I think of myself as an herb and spice nerd.

                  I buy spices in as-whole-as-possible form ( e.g. cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks). I toast and grind as needed at home.

                  I grow my own herbs.

                  The mortar and pestle is my friend.

                  1. No jars and bottles here, but lots and lots of herbs and spices. I'm blessed to have a nearby market that sells in bulk, so I can buy just a few teaspoons or tablespoons at a time; just enough for what I expect to need for a few weeks or a particular recipe so they are always fresh. I've also enjoyed being able to blend my own mixtures for taco seasoning, or curry powder, or Moroccan ras al hanout; and sometimes make up bottles as gifts, along with a recipe where they are used. Buying in the smaller amounts is also way cheaper per ounce than buying in bottles. I once price compared ground ginger from the bulk bar vs a jar from the grocery store. The bulk bar price was $4.99/pound, so it just cost me a few cents for the small quantity I needed. The grocery jar was the equivalent of $106/pound.

                    1. Not me. I have quit MANY times!

                      1. More of a Modernist Pantry junkie, I have a bunch of stuff I haven't even opened, just found some Activa in the freezer haha. Spices I buy in small amounts and use them within a month for the most part.

                        1. Probably not. I have spices, but I would not say I use them more than any other average person (just a guess)

                          1. Yes and so is my husband. We have so many for different things. His BBQ and Smoking meats, my bread baking, our cooking. We like to cook a lot of different ethnic food as well which requires different spices.

                            The main reason we are such spice junkies is because we hate over salting food. I find a mix of herbs, spices and a little salt is better than just tons of salt. it adds so much more flavor.

                            1. Yes, I am this. To the eternal consternation of my spouse. I have a whole section in the cabinets for spices and then two plastic baskets with less-frequently used stuff in an upper cabinet. Not too many duplicates, however. Also, the deck is full of fresh herbs in pots.

                              Thanks for reminding me that I need cardamom.

                                1. Yes, I confess. I have a spice cabinet and two partial shelves in my pantry. I like different cuisines in which I need different spices for. Unfortunately, I don't live where there are ethnic stores or spice shops, which I guess is a good thing otherwise storage would be worse but I do shop online and when I'm in other areas where I can source what I need. I love heat so I have multiple varieties of dried & ground peppers. Spices keep a long time in the freezer.

                                  1. Definitely. I like to try new recipes and a variety of cuisines. I have a cupboard for frequently used seasonings next to my stove, 3 spice racks on the wall, and several bins of dried herbs from my garden, various spice rubs and other oddities in my pantry. When I try a new recipe I try to stay true to the ingregients, at least the first time, so if the recipe calls for sumac, I buy sumac...