Okay. You see all those little metal tins
, all those glass McCormick jars
of herbs and spices
, and all of those big plastic jars
you got at the supermarket
or grocery store
, or worst of all, those 99 cent
spice jars? Well, they pretty much all suck
. Stop buying your herbs and spices in those places, and listen to what I have to say.
You want to buy high-quality herbs and spices for your home use. Two reasons for this: One, the flavor is more intense and you use less, and even though the price may seem expensive, usually buying in bulk is cheaper than buying those tiny containers in the store. (Besides a pound of dried basil is an awful lot of flavor.)
Two fairly good sources are health food stores and, believe it or not food warehouses like Sam's or BJ's. The former usually has bulk herbs and spices (Frontier is an excellent brand), the latter has restaurant quality stuff in large jars. Again, prices in the $6-20 per pound range may seem expensive, but you probably paid $2-$4 for an ounce or two. I prefer the health food stores with bulk containers because I can buy smaller amounts that will keep better.
Another good place for good spices are ethnic groceries in your area.
Some other suggestions:
- Get yourself a spice grinder (also known as a coffee grinder that you only use for spices, unless you like your coffee tasting like spices) and always buy whole spices, and grind them when you need them. You'll get the best flavor.
- Most herbs and spices last a year at most. Chuck 'em when they're stale, or if you must, use them, but use more. You can freeze them to make them last longer, or at the very least, store them in a a cool, dry place.
- If you use better quality spices, your friends and family will think you're a great cook, and they won't know why.
- Once you find a good brand or variety of spice, stick with it. You'll learn how it tastes and how to cook with that specific variety.
So please, for your own sake
, and the sake of those you love, season well.