Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spices & Herbs

Supermarkets are convenient, abundant and quick.

Their spices, however, aren't my favorite. Often, they're old, of poor quality, and tasteless.

Several years ago, I found Penzey's and never looked back. The quality of spices and dried herbs is so superior to what I was used to using that I was flabergasted.

Now, I keep a list on my fridge. When I run low on a spice or dried herb (but well before I run out) I add it to the list; then when I have 4 or more things, I place the order.

*BTW, they didn't pay me a dime for this; I'm pitching for them because I use their products and love the stuff.


DBK said...

This weekend I planted in the herb garden. This year we have lemon thyme, lemon grass, rosemary, sweet basil, peppermint, chives, lavender, sage, and parsley. I have a bunch of dried oregano from last year already and it is still very good. I dry the herbs myself at the end of the growing season and store them in zip-loc bags in a cupboard. Growing your own herbs is not a difficult thing and being able to pick them fresh is a real treat. I have a strawberry pot (one of those clay pots with the little "sconces" on the sides; you put different plants in each "sconce") that I use for most of the herbs, though I put the basil in a different clay pot this year. You don't need a lot of space for herbs if you use a strawberry pot, just a place that gets a lot of sun. You can also put small pots of them on a window sill if you don't have any other space for them. Many herbs like a lot of sun (like rosemary, sage, lavender, chives) and some like a little less (parsley) and so on. I have a lot of dried thyme from last year and I plan to dry more during the summer, then make the saddle of lamb recipe I learned in France last year. All it requires for seasoning is a LOT of dried thyme. There's nothing like having fresh basil right where you can get it, too.

I find that, with spices, I can "bring back" spices that seem to have lost their power by heating them in a small pan (teflon allows me to do this without them sticking to the pan). I hate spending money on spices because I use more herbs than spice and the spices are so expensive and seem to last me forever.

Sharon GR said...

DBK is so right about this- it's easy to grow fresh herbs at home! I have Rosemary, sage, oregano, chives, mint, & taragon right now, plus I put basil in the garden right next to the tomatoes every year.

Spices start to lose their flavor after a while. "Old spices never die, they just fade away." But I must say it again- the difference with the fresh spices I've gotten from Penzey's is remarkable.

Travis said...

Hey thanks for the info on Penzey's I can get good spices here in Dallas, but the prices at Penzey's are better.

Sharon GR said...

Hi Travis! Thanks for stopping by.

The thing that amazes me is the quality of their product. I thought I was getting good spices from the grocery- and, using the method DBK mentioned with the pan, I always thought the flavors were fine.

Until I got the quality stuff.