New Spices Alert

It’s getting to be that time of year. Time to throw out the holiday spices you used last year to make your panettone and gingerbread and buy new ones, especially if you bought them pre-ground. You need new cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, all of that. Expensive I know but you can buy the cheap stuff if need be. Fresh cheap spices beat old expensive ones any day of the week. Now….spend!

9 thoughts on “New Spices Alert”

  1. Hi Joe!

    Thanks for the reminder. So here is a question or two… if you can keep your flour and nuts longer by putting them in the freezer, can you do the same for your spices? Cardamom is one of my favorites, but so darn expensive that I hate to just throw it out. Also, if the spices are NOT in ground form such as cardamom pods, nutmeg nuts, allspice berries, are they okay? Thanks!


    1. Hey Eva!

      Unfortunately freezing doesn’t do terribly much to stave off the decline of spices. If you plan on keeping spices for a long time the best advice is to buy them in pod or nut form as you point out, then grind them as you need them. Coffee grinders (dedicated ones) are what you need to do they grinding, and they’re fairly cheap. Whole nutmeg can last as long as a couple of years. Cardamom and cloves less so, but still quite a bit longer than powder.


      – Joe

      1. I would note that for some uses (chai, etc.) where you’re crushing whole spices, then steeping (and can hence adjust the amount to compensate for age-related flavor loss), my caradamom-that-is-older-than-I-am is actually fantastic and tastes so much better than some musty ground “straight off the grocery shelf but who knows how long it’s been there” cardamom that I’ve had. Complex, rich, and non-sawdusty, anyway. So things are sometimes worth tasting before chucking out?

        Old whole spices can also be used for potpourri or pomanders if they’ve still got any oomph at all; I prefer actually baking something to fill the house with just-baked spicy smells, but a saucepan of water with some spices in it simmering on the stove does a surprisingly good job of faking it if you’re already up to your eyeballs in baked goods. 🙂

        I’ve never found a use for too-old-and-tired dried leafy herbs (basil, dill, parsley), though. Compost them along with the similarly-flavored grass clippings and fallen leaves, maybe…

        1. Very nice, KC!

          Thanks for taking the time to write such a useful comment!

          – Joe

  2. I buy from the bulk spices at Whole Foods to fill my spice jars. It is much more economical to get just the amount you need (small amount of the spices used less often, larger quantities of the more commons ones) and much cheaper than a whole bottle/can of McCormick or whatever. Also makes it easier to rotate them for freshness as I don’t have the guilt of throwing away a whole can of something I use rarely.

  3. Ethnic neighborhood stores, if you have one, can be an amazing resource. At the Indian store I used live nearby, I could get whole bags of spices for the price of a little supermarket bottle. Because I was a regular customer he would repackage smaller quantities for me and charge me accordingly and he carried everything! Indian stores can be amazing.

  4. Speaking of, I am going to be trying out your Panettone recipe soon. I can’t wait, and my husband will be very excited!

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