Spices 101: You asked, and we answered
We have answered your ‘spicy’ and burning questions about all things spices!
Spices are the unsung hero of all the dishes we love – adding aroma, flavour and depth to simple vegetables, meats, and even baked goods. Whether it’s sweet, salty, spicy or earthy that a dish requires, there is always a spice that will do just that.
The use of spices dates back to before the 1500s, with cinnamon being the oldest spice in the world. While there are over 100 different commonly used spices across the globe, we have narrowed down some essential things to know, all with the Food24 community’s help!
In our most recent Instagram poll, we asked our community for their ‘burning’ spice-related questions, and we have the answers!
How to keep your spices fresh
The trick to ensuring that your spices last in terms of freshness, flavour and overall aroma is to ensure that spices are stored correctly. If stored correctly, ground spices such as paprika, garlic powder, garam masala and more can last up to a year, whereas whole spices and dried herbs can last one to two years.
If you are don’t know whether or not to throw away a spice, it is important to check the appearance and aroma to analyse its freshness and viability. While the colour can change to be less vibrant, aroma is the telling factor. Simply shake a bit of the spice in a covered jar or container, lift the cover and if the aroma is still present, then the spice is still suitable for use.
The best way to store spices
To ensure your spices retain freshness and can be used over a prolonged period, they must be stored correctly. It is best practice to store spices in an airtight container, preferably in glass containers.
Here is a list of factors to consider to ensure that your stock of spices remains vibrant and fresh:
- Do not store spices in direct sunlight or above a heat source as it can result in a loss of freshness and change in overall flavour.
- Ensure the containers are tightly closed to prevent oxidisation.
- Avoid freezing spices or storing them in the fridge. When thawed or exposed to warmth, the condensation will spoil the product.
- Opt to use glass containers.
5 versatile spices to have in your kitchen
Spices can make or break any dish, and here are the top five essential spices that you need in your kitchen:
- Paprika. Contrary to popular belief, this is not only used to add a touch of spice. Paprika is known for adding a sweet and mild flavour.
- Dried chilli flakes. When you are out of fresh chillies, this is a great substitute to add a punch of spice to any dish.
- Garlic powder. This versatile and golden ingredient can be used in just about anything, from soups to stews and even salads!
- Cinnamon. If you are looking to add a balance of sweet flavour to your dish, cinnamon is your go-to.
- Black pepper. While many may regard black pepper as a standard seasoning used in almost every dish, we like to use it selectively in dishes that call for warm woodiness.
We asked our audience what their essential spice is and black pepper was voted in first place, receiving 69% of votes, while dried chilli flakes followed in second, with 29% of votes. In third place was paprika, with 28% of voters stating that this is an essential spice in their kitchen.
MUST-TRY RECIPE: Coriander paprika roast chicken
How to use mace
We asked the Food24 social media community what spice they would like to know how to use and the top common response was mace.
Unlike nutmeg, mace is a lesser-known spice and is the outer layer that surrounds and holds the nutmeg seed. In its raw form, it is red, and once it is dried it turns to an orange hue.
It can be used as a spice in both its ground and whole form and, although it may share some similar flavour profiles as nutmeg, mace adds a sweet, peppery flavour and has hints of cinnamon, black pepper, citrus and coriander.
Mace can be used in a range of dishes from baked treats to casseroles and curries. It is important to note that the ground version of mace is more potent and should be used sparingly in dishes to avoid overpowering flavours. It is also best to use it at the end of the cooking process as it can turn bitter when cooked for too long.
How to remove turmeric stains
Turmeric is known for its vibrant yellow colour – and for wreaking havoc in the kitchen and plastic containers!
To remove turmeric stains from your plastic containers, simply mix equal parts water and vinegar in the container, add some dishwashing liquid and a small paper towel, and shake it up.
This quick and easy hack can be viewed in the TikTok video below:
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When it comes to kitchen surfaces, although the first instinct is to grab the bleach, this chemical can be corrosive to certain surfaces. Instead, apply equal parts bicarb and dishwashing liquid directly to the stained area. Rub it in and the turmeric will lift from the surface.
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