Spring is close, but it's still cold out making this the perfect time to get your kitchen in order with some "Pre-Spring Cleaning."
Let's start with your spices! When's the last time you went through your spice collection? A month ago? A year ago? Never? Let's clean out the old, organize them alphabetically, and create a spice stash that makes you excited to cook.
Let's start by checking to make sure each spice is still bright and fragrant. Smell each spice to determine potency. You should be able to really smell the spice, if it's flat or barely there, toss it out. If the spice is discolored or dull it's lost its flavor power. Discoloration is easiest to tell in dried herbs. Good dried herbs will be a vibrant green. Toss anything that has faded to pale green, yellow-green, or gray.
Since I cook a lot, my spices live on two wooden shelving units on the wall close to my range and central cooking station. If you don't often cook, store your spices in a dry, dark area. The spices you hardly use but need occasionally can be stored in the freezer to help retain flavor.
While you are cleaning out, pay attention to any spices you toss out that are full or hardly used. These are spices you probably don't need to replace. The key to keeping an organized spice rack is by only having the spices you actually use.
Now that we have eliminated the old let's replace those staples and talk about quality!
Sourcing and purchasing fresh, quality spices is crucial to creating delicious dishes. In fact, for one of my most popular recipes, all I do is dust the fish in a spice blend and bake. That's it!
I read this analogy online and thought it was the best way to say it: “Would you make a fruit salad with moldy fruit? Spread rancid butter on freshly baked bread? Of course not. Likewise, you should aim to use the best spices and herbs possible.”
Try to stay away from typical grocery store spices. Products on the shelves of your average grocery chain may have been there for a year or more, and they possibly sat in a warehouse up to a year before that. Since the ordinary shelf life of ground spices maxes out around six months, chances are you’re buying old spices with little to no flavor.
Buy the best possible spices you can afford, cheap spices are cheap for a reason. Proper selection and addition of high-quality spices to a dish can elevate and transform the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost. Think about it, you only use a teaspoon here, or a tablespoon there.
I buy my spices in bulk from Spiceology. The freshness and quality of their spices amaze me each time I refill my spice jars making them my #1 recommended place to buy your spices. They have three different sizes available, making it easy to order the perfect amount for you.
My second favorite place to order spice blends is Allspice. Allspice is a little shop in my home state of Iowa, and thankfully they ship! Let me tell you; these spice blends are magical! One of my most popular, show-stopping recipes at my dinner parties is my Tangy Dill Salmon. The secret is all in the spice blend. I simply apply a liberal dusting of the Tangy Herb & Dill Seasoning to the filet and bake for 8 minutes. People go crazy over it! The freshness and quality of these blends are fantastic and worth every penny. Below is a shot of that salmon recipe, easy and delicious thanks to high-quality spices!
If you have any questions about spices, or the brands mentioned above let me know. I am happy to anwser! I should also note neither company sponsored this post, I am truly in love with their products and know you will be too!
Happy Pre-Spring Cleaning! Up next we will tackle the pantry!