As the world gets smaller, we get to try more cuisines. This introduces us to spices we may not have tried before. Today, it frequently happens that we have a dish from Mexico on Monday, from Italy on Tuesday, and China on Wednesday. After that, maybe you will eat something from India or Russia. Regional spices are becoming more common in the stores and as we taste these new combinations, we discover new favorites. Before we know it, we have added new spices to our cupboard.
The Care and Storage of Spices Makes a Difference
Can you remember the last time you bought spices? They do not have an indefinite shelf life. As time goes by, they lose color and flavor. To keep your spices as fresh as possible, store them someplace away from oxygen, heat, moisture, and bright light.
As convenient as it may be to keep them near your stove, try to keep them away from your kitchen appliances. Heat and steam can cause dampness, which will shorten their shelf life. Airtight containers made of glass or tin will help preserve the volatile oils in the spice, keeping their flavor intact.
Each spice can have a different shelf life. Check the ones in your cupboard periodically to check for freshness. Look at the color... is it faded? Is the scent still strong? Remember that whole spices will keep for a longer time span than those that are ground. It also depends on what part of the plant your spice is from.
For whole spices, remember that leaves and flowers may last up to a year. Roots, seeds, and barks can retain their goodness for over two years. Ground spices have a shorter life span. Leaves, seeds and barks will be good for about six months, while roots will remain fresh for up to a year.
Using Ethnic Spices to Bring the World Home
There are many ethnic recipes that require special spices to give them their unique flavor. For example, if you want to make chicken enchiladas, you may need cumin, chilies, cilantro, and garlic to create an authentic Mexican flavor.
If you decide to try an Afghani dish, you may need spices like savory, sumac, and sesame. For Indian food, you may need coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Japanese recipes may require furikake, chilies, ginger, and miso.
Exploring the world of spices can be fun and you may find new spices that you truly enjoy. Keep your mind and your mouth open for new tasty flavors. You may find that Greek cuisine is your cup of tea, while Afghani is not. You will never know unless you try. What makes this all possible is the availability of spices from all over the world today. It is commonplace these days to find many in your regular grocery store if not they are almost surely available at your local ethnic market.
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Article Added on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
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