You’ve heard it before, but it’s true. Generally spices are so much better if you grind them yourself. But it can be a real bind, especially if you don’t do a lot of cooking with spices. After all, do you really want drawers full of spices that you are probably never going to use? Wouldn’t it be better to by small jars of gound spices? After all, you don’t need much…

That argument doesn’t really stand up. If you by pre-ground spices, they’ll be fine for a couple of weeks, but soon loose their potency. In fact, there’s more of an argument to say that if you rarely cook with spices, then you should always grind your own to ensure you get the best possible flavours.

As you become more proficient with spicy cooking, you find that they have a place in just about any dish. After a while, you wouldn’t even consider using pre-ground spices. I ahve to admit that I buy the majority of mine from an asian supermarket when I visit Bradford, in ‘bulk’, so to speak (uo to 500g packs), and have progressed from a pestle and mortar to a bladed coffee grinder (I wouldn’t recommend using the more expensive coffee grinders with burrs – they’re generally not that easy to keep clean)

If you need to roast spices (this does bring out the flavours, especially in older seeds), be careful not to burn! This will ruin your recipe. If you burn them, throw away and start again. Roasting seeds is a simple matter of heating the whole spices in a small dry pan over a moderate/low heat for a few minutes, shaking occassionally. The seeds should start to brown slightly and give off a pundent aroma. At this point, remove from the heat and grind immediately.

Essential Whole Spices for your Kitchen

  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Cardomon (Green)
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Cinnomen Sticks/Bark
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Chilli Flakes/Dried Chilli
  • Saffron
  • Bay Leaves

Ground Spices worth buying:

  • Chilli powder
  • Paprika (Spanish & Hungarian)
  • Turmeric

Fresh Spices (& Herbs) that freeze:

  • Chillis
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Grass

Preserved or Pre-prepared Spices for the cupboard:

  • Mustard (English, Wholegrain, German)
  • Galangal
  • Horseradish
  • Tamarind Pulp

Other spices you cook keep in yor Kitchen, if you really wanted to:

  • Fennel Seeds
  • Cardomon (Black)
  • Mace
  • Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi)
  • Star Anise
  • Ajwain
  • Asafoetida
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Juniper Berries

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