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Keep Your Spices Ready For Use
We all love the look of a full spice rack hanging on the wall or in a stand but remember spices should be kept in a cool place. Additionally, the space should be dry and away from heat and sun. Do not place your spices near the stove since it is hot and moist, the moisture comes from the steam of boiling water and simmering pots. Also, it's best to leave the spice in the jars they were purchased in, except when you buy herbs and spices in bulk. If that's the case, store in containers that are airtight. Also, try to use dark glass such as cobalt blue or brown instead of clear jars.
Some herbs and spices are happy in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator in jars in a plastic zip lock bag. Red pepper type spices, all seeds (poppy, celery, sesame), as well as zested orange and lemon peels can be kept there. They seem to stay aromatic longer.
Your spice rack should hold herbs and spices that are essential to you. Think about the foods you cook and stock your spice rack accordingly. For instance:
White Pepper (good when you don't want black flecks to spoil the presentation)
Regular salt and sea salt
Red pepper flakes
Smoked sweet paprika (I prefer Spanish)
Minced green onions
If you only use a few herbs and spices, don't waste money, just buy those few. If you are trying a new recipe buy what that recipe calls for at that time. The longer a herb or spice is on the self the less likely it is to have full body and flavor. A busy supermarket that has a good turn around is a better place for those "I may need this" spices. By the way a pinch of basil makes brown gravy outstanding.
Remember to be open to change, or at least to a little experimentation. Check out new and untried recipes with ingredients or herbs and spices you have not used before. They may have your tongue singing praises.
I have listed two cookbooks that should be available from Amazon or a brick and mortar store. These cookbooks can make you anxious to use a spice you may not have used before. Or they use ordinary ingredients and ordinary spices to make dishes you may not have eaten before. The Food of Asia: Authentic Recipes from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam (Periplus World Cookbooks)
and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.
Don't forget library book sales, they are gold mines for old cookbooks.
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