Food Tips

5 Reasons Why You Should Blend Your Own Spices

Herbs and Spices in containers

There is little doubt that the convenience of a spice blend saves time in the kitchen. Having a portioned, ready to use combination of spices that will give your dish a particular flavor is a definite time saver. No matter what flavor you want there are plenty of blends out there to choose from. So whether you are looking for the perfect poultry, bbq or pumpkin spice; or you’re looking to add the ethnic flair of a curry, jerk or Chinese 5 spice, the answer can be found in a bottle.

Making a homemade spice blend is easy. The only equipment needed is:

airtight containers

accurate measuring spoons and cups

labels

spices

Optional: a mortar and pestle or grinder for fresh herbs

You may be questioning, why would you bother to make a spice blend when you can just buy a bottle of whatever you want from most grocery stores?  Isn’t convenience one of the main objectives?  Yes, but there are definite reasons why you should make your own home-made spice blends. What are those reasons? I thought you’d never ask:

5 Reasons you should ditch the ready-made spice blend and mix your own

1. More of the Good Stuff, Less of the Bad

Read the first ingredient in your favorite spice blend. What is it? Most likely it is salt (or sugar for the sweet blends). When you blend your own spices you can eliminate the use of salt as a filler and add it in proportion, to taste. How about all of the preservatives and stabilizers that are added during manufacturing? Unwanted, unneeded and eliminated from your homemade blend.

2. Eliminate the big bad, MSG!!!

Spice blends that are branded as naturally flavored or low in sodium, most likely contain MSG (Monosodium glutamate), which is used as a commercial flavor enhancer. Monosodium glutamate is simply the salt of the glutamic amino acid. Many people are sensitive to this additive. Those who suffer from MSG Symptom Complex may feel weak, flushed, feverish or nauseous after consumption.  They may also develop headaches or heart palipitations, and these are considered the mild symptoms that don’t require medical treatment. Studies seem to show a correlation between eating MSG and diseases such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers and ALS, although these studies are deemed “not conclusive”. So the FDA allows MSG to be sold in the US,  but still, it’s best to avoid it.

3. Cheaper price

You’ll find that there are certain base spices; such as garlic powder, onion powder or black pepper that will be used in multiple different blends. These spice can be purchased in bulk. This will save you money!

4. Less waste from expired ingredients

Since you will be able to make an individual portioned blend for a single meal, as well as making the more used blends in bulk, there will be less waste from rarely used blends that go bad.

5. Better Tasting Food

Roast Pork Loin and Vegetables

Roast Pork Loin and Vegetables

The overall benefit of using fresher spices, that are actual spices and not just flavored salt, is that your homemade blends will have more flavor! Not only that, but they will be your own custom blends, blended to your taste.  All of this ultimately means that you will have more consistant, healthier, fresher, delicious food!

Mmm…

Homemade Apple Pie Spice "The Flavors of Fall"

 

Apple Pie Spice Ingredients:

Apple Pie Spice

Yield =  1 cup = 48 tsp (enough to last the season)

1/2 cup Ground Cinnamon

1/4 cup Ground Nutmeg

1/8 cup Ginger Powder

1 tsp Ground Allspice

1 tsp Ground Cardamon

Yield =  4 tsp (single serving, just enough)

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Ginger Powder

1/4 tsp Ground Allspice 

1/4 tsp Ground Cardamon

apple

Directions:

Simply mix all ingredients together with a fork. Keeps in an airtight container, 1 year.

 

Great in these recipes: pancakes, waffles, cakes, pies, muffins, oatmeal, butter, ice cream, cheesecakes, bread, soups, cookies, add to your favorite tea,  sausage and apples, apple spice cake pops, cider or smoothies.

 

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice "The Flavors of Fall!"

 

Pumpkin Spice Ingredients: 

Yield = 40 tsp (enough to last the season)

1/2 cup Ground Cinnamon

2 tbs Ginger Powder

2 tbs Ground Nutmeg

2 tsp Ground Allspice

2 tsp Ground Cloves

 

Yield = 3 1/2 tsp (single serving, just enough)

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Ginger Powder

1/4 tsp Ground Allspice 

1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

 
 

Directions:

Simply mix all ingredients together with a fork. Keeps in an airtight container, 1 year.

 

Great in these recipes: pancakes, waffles, cakes, pies, muffins, oatmeal, rice crispy treats, butter, ice cream, cheesecakes, bread, soups, cookies, sprinkle in your coffee grounds, latte topping, add to your favorite tea,  jack-o-lantern cake pops, add to real jack-o-lantern for nice aroma.

Umami! Deliciousness has a name, no it’s not chocolate.

Just when you thought it was safe to attempt to recreate recipes from the Food Network they throw one more thing your way.  Evidently they have discovered a 5th taste and that taste is Umami.   Great, one more thing for me to worry about while creating that infamous 'perfectly balanced dish.'

tongue taste buds
tongue taste buds

 Most of us remember learning about taste by looking at a picture of a tongue in elementary school.  The various areas of the tongue were labeled with whichever taste buds were primarily located there.   Most of us are therefore familiar with the tastes sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Evidently they missed a taste or even maybe two.  Perhaps that was because these tastes were still floating in the imagination of future chefs.

Umami, which translates literally into ‘deliciousness’ in Japanese is described as the rich savory tastes associated with a hearty soup or grilled meat. I admit I’m a little lost on what that really means but hey I’m still confused with the difference between bitter and sour. What is sour like a lemon pulp and bitter is the rind? My pallet is obviously not refined enough to tell the difference between, nasty and just kind of nasty.

Umami paste
Umami paste

I first heard of this mysterious 5th taste on Iron Chef America from one of the pompous judges.   I call him pompous because he not only knew more than me which was understandable and expected.   What really annoyed me was the arrogant way he proceeded to ‘educate’ the chef that he as judging like Umami has been around forever.   Maybe I am just hating because he did pique my interest in what I as missing in this new taste.  

I found a product called Taste No. 5 Umami Paste it only costs around $6.00.  A small price to pay to satisfy my curiosity.   I almost purchased it until I saw the ingredients list: parmesan cheese, black olives, garlic, tomatoes, anchovies and mushrooms.  I t sounds like a list of pizza toppings but not necessarily ‘deliciousness’. Hmmm, if only they added some pepperoni.

Let me know how you like it!