TIP OF THE DAY: Using Whole Spices | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures TIP OF THE DAY: Using Whole Spices | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: Using Whole Spices

Spices begin to lose their flavor immediately after grinding. Cooks with sensitive palates have been known to replace jars of spices six months after opening, even though the “rule of thumb” says they’ll be useful for two years.

Whole spices, on the other hand, retain their flavor much longer. They can be ground quickly in a spice grinder (get a coffee grinder used just for spices so coffee flavors don’t transfer) or with a simple mortar and pestle.

Think of the difference between pre-ground black pepper and fresh-ground pepper to understand the difference using whole spices can make.

For maximum flavor: Before grinding, toast whole spices in a dry skillet over low heat. Stir frequently until they begin to release their aromas. The extra flavor they’ll give you is worth the five minutes of time.

You’ll use more nutmeg when you discover
the exciting flavor of fresh-ground
nutmeg. Photo courtesy Peugeot.

  • If you use nutmeg frequently, a nutmeg grinder is a wonderful convenience. It can be brought to the table like a peppermill, so diners can add a grind of fresh nutmeg to their foods. (We love it with yogurt, pancakes, meats and vegetables as well as desserts.)
  • Here’s how to check spices for freshness.
  • Learn about antioxidant spices—seven popular spices that fight illness and aging.


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