Get to know your spices!

Get to know your spices!

How much time have you spent with your spice rack?

You want to know what each of your spices smells and tastes like, so you understand what's happening when you add them to a recipe. Here's how:

First, you open the jar and give it a big whiff.  Fresh spices should smell fragrant! If there is no smell, there not much flavor.

Second, sprinkle a little out on your hand rub it between your fingers. What’s the texture like? Is it soft or gritty? Does it crumble? Is there more of smell when you rub it?

Next, taste it. Is it earthy, fruity, savory, sour, spicy, umami, salty, bitter, bright? Knowing what your spices taste like before cooking will help you decide how to use them. Is it delicious as is and can be sprinkled on a dish as a finishing touch? Or, does it need time to mellow? Is it bitter, and needs other flavors to balance it?

In general, whole seeds need more time to allow their flavors to come out. Ground spices should added closer to the end of cooking time.

As you "get to know your spices" ask:

  • What is the hottest seasoning?
  • The saltiest?
  • The best flavor?
  • Most bitter?

And try to start categorizing spices as ones you'll use earlier in a recipe or at the end.  Go say hello to your spices!

May 26, 2021 — Beth Weisberger