Spice Up Your Pantry
Now is the time when everything seems new again (well almost) to take stock of what spices are in your pantry. After all, spices are the flavor rock stars of the food world. You probably have jars of opened, half opened and forgotten -on- the- back of the shelf -spices looking for attention. Have you checked their expiration dates? Like everything else, there comes a time to say goodbye. Here are some things to remember about spices.
- Choose whole spices if possible and grind them in a spice grinder for maximum flavor. Whole spices have a shelf life of 3 to 4 years. Spices like nutmeg, peppercorns, cloves and allspice are good candidates.
- Ground spices like cinnamon cumin, chili powder have a shelf life of 2 to 4 years. After that, their oils are pretty much dried up.
- Keep the spices you use most often front and center.
- Keep spices in a dark, dry place, not next to your stove where the heat will destroy their oils.
- If possible, keep the spices organized in a container or drawer or on a spice rack mounted away from light and heat.
- Unless you use a lot of spices, do not buy them in bulk as over time, they will lose their effectiveness.
- To coax the best flavor out of spices like peppercorns, fennel seeds and caraway seeds, toast them in a non-stick pan over low heat until they are fragrant, then cool and grind them in a spice mill.
- Be adventuresome when it comes to adding spices to your cooking like fennel powder rubbed on pork, turmeric added to mashed potatoes or rice, cinnamon added to beef stew, anise seeds added to breads and cakes and Chinese Five Spice added to stir fry, soups, scrambled eggs and stews.