Thursday, 20 February 2014

Nice and Spicy!

Grinding your own spices is really easy with a pestle
and mortar
I decided to clean out my spice cupboard the other day which was bulging at the seams with a wide array of aromatic seeds, powders, leaves, pastes and sauces. When I eventually emptied it I counted 53 different varieties in total. Is it just me or does that seem like a lot? Wikipedia lists nearly 200 different culinary herbs and spices so maybe not!

I wasn't brought up on spicy food - quite the opposite - but I now use herbs and spices almost every day and can't imagine cooking without them. When I was little I remember lifting our esteemed jar of mixed spice from the back of the cupboard every year as part of the family ritual that was making our Be-Ro Christmas cake. That, plus an ancient jar of ground nutmeg, which was used exclusively for sprinkling over the top of custard tarts, was it on the spice front as far as I can recall. Food must have been dull in those days!

Buying spices in bulk makes sense -
as long as you'll use them!
I recently started buying the spices I use more often in 400g bags from Asian stores as they are cheaper than buying the small jars of spices available in my local supermarket. For example a 400g bag of Ground Cumin cost me £2.25 (£0.06 per 10g). When I compare this to some of the prices the supermarkets are charging for their own brand spices I was shocked that the average price was £0.22 per 10g - when I looked at the branded spices, such as Schwartz and Bart, the difference was even higher! Only Asda came close to the Asian supermarket price at £0.12 per 10g for a 41g jar which is a good price and Asda also stocks 400g bags at £2.36 so almost matching my price!

So if you're using the same spices on a regular basis it definitely makes economic sense to buy in bulk. Most spices keep really fresh for ages if they're stored in airtight jars - I've got some lovely nice glass jars that I use - but it isn't necessary to go to the expense of buying jars. Old jam or pickle jars can be used just as well but they need to be thoroughly washed before putting the spices in. Pickle flavoured cinnamon is not a good idea!

So 53 different variety's of herbs and spices in my store cupboard and here they are. It would be nice to hear if anyone has more!
A (very) small selection of spices from my store cupboard!
Bay leaves, Black Mustard Seeds, Capers, Cardamon, Cayenne Pepper, Chinese Five Spice, Cinnamon Sticks, Coriander Leaf, Coriander Seed, Cumin Seed, Curry Leaves, Dill, Dried Chillis, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seeds, Garam Masala, Ground Allspice, Ground Black Pepper, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Ground Ginger, Ground Mixed Spice, Ground Nutmeg, Harissa Paste, Herbes de Provence, Hot Chilli Powder, Juniper Berries, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Lemon Grass, Mace, Marjoram, Medium Curry Powder, Mint, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Ras El Hanout, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Smoked Paprika, Star Anise, Tamarind Paste, Tabasco Sauce, Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric, Vanilla Pods, Whole Black Peppercorns, Whole Cloves, Whole Nutmeg and Yellow Mustard Seeds.
These airtight jars keep my spices really fresh.

Cumin Seeds, Ground Coriander, Black Peppercorns,
Paprika and Cinnamon


  1. I think we have a couple of jars of spices and Not many at all.....Chinese Five Spice, Ground Black Pepper & Curry powder....I'm not the best cook x

  2. Oh dear that does make me look like a bit of a spice freak doesn't it? ;-)


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