Alphabetize Your SpicesMy family thinks I'm a bit of a psycho because I alphabetize my spices! However, you wouldn't believe how much time this saves when cooking! It cuts the time previously spent looking for a certain spice, down to next to nothing.
Storing Fresh ChivesWhen I bring my groceries home, I immediately wash the chives, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a large storage bag, roll them up to remove as much air from the bag as possible and chuck them into the door of the fridge so I don't forget to use them.
Quickly Dry Herbs in Your CarMy car sits in an open sunny spot and frequently is quite warm when I go to use it. Since I had lots of basil to dry, I thought I'd try to dry it in the car and it worked perfectly!
Pepper Mill AlterationRather then buy TWO containers of black pepper (whole AND ground) I used a drill to punch a hole into a dollar store pepper mill I bought. They are sealed so you can't just open them and I needed whole peppers or my pickling project. I just place a piece of tape over the hole to use it as a grinder again.
Turmeric TipsTurmeric has many health uses. It has been used like an antibiotic for thousands of years. I add oil, such as coconut oil, and a dash of black pepper to enhance the absorption of the turmeric benefits. I also add a dash of turmeric in my white rice to make it look like yellow rice.
Seasoning Your RecipesWhenever I am making a soup, stew, sauce or anything that will need many seasonings, I use the method I pictured below! When I am done I can check that I have used everything I needed for my recipe. It really keeps things organized.
Salt and Pepper Shakers Working TogetherI saw this tip on the internet and would have never guessed it. The bottoms of the salt and pepper shakers have a rough edge which can be used to get the salt and pepper out with little effort. For pepper, just gently rub the bottom of the salt shaker against the bottom of the pepper shaker and watch what happens.
Pull Herbs Through GraterThis is a fast way to separate herb leaves from their stems. Poke the bottom end of the fresh herb stem in a hole on a grater, then pull on the stem. The herb leaves will be saved on top, while the stems gather on the work surface. Use the smaller grater holes for smaller stems. This is great for fresh herbs like parsley that are time consuming to separate.
Trader Joe's "Everything But the Bagel" SeasoningI have been making the popular 2-ingredient bagels, which use this seasoning. The cashier at Trader Joes, where I purchased the seasoning, said she loves it on avocado. I bought a few avocados on special for 50 cents each. I spread the bread with my homemade Greek yogurt, spread avocado, used the seasoning, and added lettuce. The sandwich was great.
Complimentary Seasoning at the MarketTwo markets I frequently shop at provide complimentary seasoning when you purchasing meat or poultry. They can season for you. I usually ask for some seasoning on the side in a baggie to bring home.
Saving Money on Seasoning and SpicesAre you making a new recipe that calls out for seasoning or spices you don't have? Instead of purchasing each new seasoning or spice jar, which can get costly especially if you may not like the recipe, my thrifty tip is to purchase in bulk where you can scoop the amount you need into a ziplock or plastic bag.
Dollar Tree Magnetic Spice ContainersThere are a lot of cool ideas right now about putting your spices on a magnetic board, cookie sheet or the fridge. But they are pretty spendy. So, armed with some all purpose glue, magnetic strips, felt pen and 2/1.00 tins from the Dollar Tree, I went to town.
Add Curry to Chicken SaladFor a nice change of pace, add some curry the next time you make chicken salad. Penzeys makes a mild curry, called sweet curry, which I enjoy.
Make Your Own Garlic SaltI really enjoy hot buttered garlic toast. I find the minced garlic spread overpowering. I even find garlic salt a bit too much. If I did like it, I wouldn't buy it. A minimum of a dollar for less than a penny's worth of salt with a little powdered garlic added. Ouch!
Substitution for AllspiceI ran out of allspice, what to do now? Well, I Googled it and found out! Aren't computers great? How did we live without them? I didn't have an old bottle to read the ingredients and it is simple!
Chopping Fresh Basil LeavesI love watching a few of the cooking shows. More than just the recipes, I enjoy watching the quick short cuts the Chef's have to cutting, dicing and preparing meals. Easy and terrific.
Celery FlakesIt's easy to dry your own celery flakes to be used in salads, tuna salad or whatever recipe.
Peeling Garlic Easily in a JarDon't buy pre-peeled garlic or spend the time doing it yourself. Avoid the garlicky fingers by putting your garlic in a jar, screw the lid on, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. The first half the of the shaking will break the cloves off, and the second half will peel the skins right off the cloves. It's a great little workout, too! ;)
Save Ramen Noodle Flavor PacketsI empty the packets into clean salt shakers, using each flavour separately. That way, you can use a little to add a bit of spice to many dishes.
Using Herbs And SeasoningsDon't overdo seasonings. Pick a theme. For instance, you aren't going to need bell peppers, onions, garlic, lemon, chili, basil and oregano in the same dish. The flavors will compete and you'll be wasting. As a general rule, pick three seasonings and taste it.
Keep Spice Mixes in Empty Prescription BottlesI often make up batches of homemade seasoning mixes. I find the cost of those cute little spice bottles too expensive, so I wash and thoroughly dry my old prescription bottles and use them to hold these mixes.
Make Extracts CheaplyDid you know that you can make your own extracts cheaply? It's so easy and they are so expensive! All you need to do is buy a bottle of plain, unflavored vodka and use your own leaves, peels or spices.
Frozen Herb Starter Tray By BallBall has come out with a special "ice" tray for making the herbed olive oil cubes I talked about in a previous post. You put in your favorite herbs or combo of herbs, then add olive oil or coconut oil. Then you put the lid on and freeze. The herbs will infuse the oil while they sit in the freezer.
How to Make Flavored OilsI realize that some of the things I send in call for oils. Do not buy them, you can make them as easy as ABC! I go to Vitamin Cottage and buy the herbs I need in the herb section. I never buy spices at the grocery stores because herbs are better tasting and cheaper!
Using Herb ScissorsI am loving my new herb scissors by Ball. They have several blades so they chop up herbs into tiny bits in no time and really don't miss much. They come with a sheath/comb to get any stuck herbs out of the scissors. They are pretty cool and not very spendy.
Add Nutmeg To Dairy RecipesIf making anything with cream or milk; be it quiche, sauce, gravy or even cream in your coffee; ALWAYS add a pinch or two of nutmeg.
Rice to Prevent Lumps in Salt ShakerI add a few pieces of UNCOOKED rice to my salt shaker. You will never get clumps again!
Freeze Whole Heads of GarlicBelieve it or not, the easiest way to peel and store garlic is to simply put it in an air-tight bag or container and put it in the freezer, the whole head unpeeled!
Easy Fresh GingerI use ginger a lot. It's not easy to peel and dice or grate, so I hit upon a way to make it easier. I keep it in the freezer and grate it without peeling. The frozen peel plus the inside crumble instantly.
Prevent Onion Powder From CakingI always had trouble with onion powder (and other powders) caking soon after the container was opened. To measure an amount, I would have to gouge out a lump and rub it through a sieve.
Grate Your Own ZestWhenever I eat an orange or use a lemon, I always use my microplane to grate the zest. I then put it in a small plastic container and freeze it. I always have zest for any recipe.
Store Herbs and Spices In FreezerFor years, I have kept small containers easily at hand in my spice cupboard, away from heat and light. But I have also kept larger amounts in a shelf in my freezer, which will keep them fresh for years.
Storing Fresh HerbsMost fresh herbs are just like rooting plants, they need water. And if you want to you can take a 2 liter bottle cut in half and turn the bottle neck down into the bottom of the bottom half to make it look like a funnel in the bottle. Use some tape if you need to to keep the funnel upright.
Storing Herbs In Recycled Parmesan ContainersI grow a lot of herbs, after I take and dry them I remove it from the branches and grind them. The jars are perfect to store it in until I want to put it in smaller jars or mix some together. They keep the herbs fresh. I store then in a dark place.
Using Leftover SpicesI got all these different leftover spices which were taking a lot of space in my tiny kitchen. So I just picked one larger spice container and dumped all other spices in it and mixed it well. It makes a great seasoning for pork chops.
Getting the Most Out of Your SpicesAll cooks have their own secret ways to make the dish special. This time of the year, we are using spices that may have not been even thought of in 10-12 months.
Ginger for the HolidaysGinger is great for your health and home. With the holidays and cold season approaching it's time to stock up on some ginger. For your winter supply of ginger, here's a list of items to keep on hand.
Save Hot Pepper SeedsWhen you are chopping up hot peppers of any kind for cooking, canning, or drying, save the seeds. Separate as many as you can from the pith, but don't use the pith. Line a baking sheet or pie pan with wax paper and put the seeds in it.
Create a Spice DrawerKeep all the spice bottles in the cabinet drawer which is very close to your stove. The upper left side drawer is a really convenient place to keep all the spices. When you are cooking it is easily accessible and visible.
Store Paprika In RefrigeratorPaprika has always been the first spice to end up with bugs in it. If you will keep it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator from the time you buy it until the last of it is used, you'll probably never see a bug.
Pairing Herbs and Other Flavors with VegetablesHere is a quick reference for making every vegetable even more delicious.
Shelf-Life Guidelines for SpicesHere are some general shelf-life guidelines for spices:
Determining if Spices are Still GoodIf you find yourself debating on whether to use a spice that doesn't have an expiration date, try these methods to see if they are still good:
Mix Taco Seasoning With Sour CreamI have a lot of leftover taco seasoning packets left over from when we were always cooking Mexican. I found that if I put one package of taco seasoning into 2 cups of sour cream and top with shredded cheese of any kind, it goes like hotcakes.
Keeping Salt From ClumpingWhen I first moved to Houston in the early 80s, I learned about Houston's legendary humidity. I also learned that what it said on the Morton's salt box about "When it rains it pours" wasn't true. Raining or not, salt doesn't pour easily in Houston.
Buy Spices in the Hispanic Foods SectionThe prices of some of the herbs and spices are getting way out of my budget. I started reusing my spice bottles and buying the herbs and spices in the plastic packets in the Hispanic section of the store.
Spice Up Egg SaladEaster leaves most of us with A LOT of eggs for egg salad, etc. I like to add a little flavor to mine with my dried and powdered mixed veggies from my garden.
Add Rice To Avoid Clumping in ShakersWhen your salt shaker doesn't want to work for you, you can solve the problem by adding dry rice in with the salt. This way your salt won't ball up in little balls. I always put rice in the shaker every time I refill it up.
Reusing Spice ContainersRecycle those bigger shaker bottles that spices come in. I reuse them and fill with cinnamon sugar or flour. It is so much handier to have one bottle to grab while I'm cooking than having to go to the pantry for the canister of flour.
Prevent Heartburn from GarlicTo prevent heartburn from garlic, slice garlic in half lengthwise, you will find a "root" in the middle which often has some green color on the ends. Remove the root, and no more indigestion.
Homemade Garlic PowderWhen great garlic begins to go soft in storage, it's time to make garlic powder. To prepare this multipurpose seasoning from scratch, first peel the garlic cloves. Then cut them into thin slices and put in a dry pan.
Peeling GarlicTo get a good start on peeling a whole head of garlic; separate it into individual cloves and put the cloves in a Mason jar (or any container with a tight-fitting lid). Then shake the Mason jar as hard as you can for about three minutes.
Grind Cloves in Coffee GrinderDon't you just hate it when you are ready to prepare something special for the holidays and realize that you don't have ALL the ingredients? Well, this happened to me today.
Dry Your Own Citrus PeelsGrate lemon peel, lime peel, and orange peel when you buy those fruits on sale or any time. Allow the peel to dry on waxed paper. When fully dry, store in glass jars and label. Saves money by using these peels for flavorings when cooking or baking.
Basil Olive OilSteeping basil in olive oil in a glass jar is a good way to make a good addition to sauces and soups. Add dried tomatoes, and top with a garlic clove. This sounds so good, I am going to do it, it looks prettier than just plain oil.
Store Vanilla Beans in AlcoholBecause dried out vanilla beans are nearly impossible to split and scrape, I store whole beans in a jar filled with vodka, bourbon, or brandy. They stay soft, making it easy to scrape out every last bit of vanilla.
Mount a Spice Rack on the WallI do a lot of cooking and have always had problems with where to store my spices. My solution? Mount the spice rack on the wall
Make Vanilla SugarAfter you've taken the seeds out of your vanilla pod, place your pod in sugar. The vanilla flavor adds a nice touch to coffee, tea, and your baking.
Use Onion Soup Mix for SeasoningKeep packages of French onion dip or onion soup mix in your pantry. For flavor enhancement, sprinkle a tablespoon into homemade macaroni and cheese, cooked vegetables, or add to meat when making meatloaf or hamburger patties.
Freeze Fresh Herbs Into CubesI always have so much basil in my garden and it can turn black so fast. Here's what I do to have that garden-fresh basil flavor all year. I put fresh, cleaned basil leaves in the blender with just enough water ...
Copy Herb and Spice Mixes at HomeI make almost all of my own spice, herb, and salad dressing mixes I read the ingredients on the label and reproduce it without all of the unpronounceable names added, I start out with a small batch to get a taste match as close as possible to the original product.
What Can You Do With Leftover Herbs?I love fresh herbs, garden grown and store bought, but I DO NOT like having to waste what isn't used. So this is what I do after cleaning and separating what is necessary for the recipe.
Storing and Using SpicesAlways store spices in a cool, dry, dark place. The rule of thumb for how long spices stay fresh is: 3 to 4 years for whole spices and seeds, 2 to 3 years for ground spices, 1 to 3 years for leafy herbs, and 1 to 2 years for seasoning blends.
Use Onion Powder on Individual ServingsSince I am the only person in my family that likes onions in my food, I use the dried onion powder in the spice section and sprinkle it on my food only. You could use this to save on the cost of buying onions.
Store Spices Upside DownStore spice jars upside down so air cannot get into the bottles. Spices last so much longer when stored this way. This also works for any jarred or bottled food whether stored in your cupboard or fridge.
Make Pesto From Different HerbsI know pesto is traditionally basil, thyme, etc. mixed with olive oil. But the other week I had some parsley and cilantro that I knew was going to go bad by the end of the week.
Preserving Fresh CilantroFor your cilantro to last longer, put them with the roots in a cup or container of tap water and leave it on the kitchen window sill.
Buying Bulk SpicesHerbs and spices are expensive to buy in grocery stores. I discovered that my local natural food store sells herbs and spices in bulk and it's so much cheaper!
Keeping Salt from Clumping in the ShakerTo prevent salt from clogging with moisture, I put 1/4 teaspoon of dried parsley leaves into the salt shaker. I then add the salt. It works every time.
Never Ending Vanilla ExtractVanilla extract gets expensive if you bake a lot and, with the holidays approaching, there is always that annoying discovery of an empty extract bottle.
Measuring From a Pepper GrinderWe like to use the sea salt and pepper grinders that are found in the grocery stores, but when I had to measure for a recipe it was awkward. One day I came up with a very workable solution.
Store Dried Herbs With Silica PacketsI save the little silica packages that come in bottles of vitamins and place them inside my containers of dried herbs. It really maintains their freshness for a longer period of time!
Roast Peppercorns For Intense FlavorIf you like to use freshly ground pepper, try this tip. Roast the peppercorns in a 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, or pan roast on top of the stove for about 5 minutes.
Freezing Basil In OilHere is a new way to preserve basil from the garden for winter use without drying it. You can not freeze basil by itself because it will turn black in the freezer.
Make Your Own Shaker Top With Aluminum FoilCinnamon is so good in my coffee (plus nutmeg and some cocoa!) for a designer coffee taste-a-like. But one of my cinnamon spice jars came without a shaker on top and we always forgot and dumped too much into the cup. Ugh.
Using TrufflesTruffles are a diamond in the kitchen and very difficult to find due to lack of prolonged drought. I've managed to find them at several food markets in K.C. Missouri, so you'll have to search in your cities if they are wanted.
Mark The Top Of Spice JarsI keep my spices in a drawer. I usually had very little, if any, problems finding what I wanted. I kept them by sizes and remembered what was in a big or little bottle.
Using Apple Pie SpiceA pre-made spice mix intended for apple pie. Usually containing Allspice, Nutmeg and cinnamon. Good in French toast, fruit salad, coffee cake and cookies.
Save Empty Spice Jars And Buy BulkThe next time you empty an herb or spice jar, don't throw it away. You can refill it at your local health or natural food store since most have big jars of bulk dried herbs. You can buy just a little baggie full for about a quarter. Most of the cost of grocery store herbs and spices are the name brand, advertising, packaging and shipping. You'll be amazed how much you'll save.
Keep Cooking Spices In FreezerKeep cooking spices fresh by keeping them in the freezer. To organize them, I use the top shelf of the door. I arrange them in alphabetical order so I don't have to search through all of them to find a particular one.
Making Hot Pepper PowderMy boyfriend likes his food hot and spicy. I do too, to a point. I like to add hot peppers into the food, but can't always have those peppers on hand. Last year, I planted many pepper plants.
Don't Add Salt While CookingMy 85 yr. old MIL grew up in Vermont where they raised most of their own food. She has told me to never salt vegetables while cooking, including potatoes. The salt will leech out some of the vitamins.
Mix Your Own Everyday SpicesGarlic salt and onion salt is nothing more than mixing some garlic powder or onion powder with salt. Its much cheaper to make it yourself, instead of buying small jars in the grocery store. Other similar spices can also be made.
Use Fresh Spearmint in TeaWash, dry, and store fresh spearmint from your garden in a plastic baggy in the fridge for 4-5 days. Add to tea being brewed or add fresh leaves to iced tea along with fresh lemon and sweetener of choice. Amazingly refreshing!
Freshening PepperTo freshen your pepper add a few peppercorns to the pepper shaker!
Refilling Spice JarsSave a bundle the next time you buy spices. Instead of reaching for the Spice Islands or any other brands that put spices in a jar, shop at stores that sell spices in bulk.
Using and Storing Vanilla BeansIf you split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, discarding the shell or hull. Add the seeds to your dishes or beverages for flavor. Vanilla beans can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Tightly secure the beans in plastic wrap before putting in an air tight jar.
Celery Tops Instead of ParsleyInstead of parsley, use those leafy celery tops to add flavor and color to a salad. Why throw away the celery tops and then purchase parsley? Wash the leaves, chop them fine, and sprinkle on top of any salad.
Follow Garlic With Some ParsleyParsley after garlic - Garnish spicy foods, especially those that contain garlic, with fresh sprigs of parsley, and encourage all your guests to finish with a piece.
Turmeric With Scrambled EggsFor a change, try adding turmeric to scrambled eggs. I never buy my spices or herbs from the supermarket as the price you pay goes mainly to the packing. Try to find a nature store that you can buy as little or as much as you like. The product will be fresher and also very inexpensive compared to the supermarket price.
Making a ShakerTo make a shaker for cinnamon/sugar or powdered sugar use an old jar and punch holes in the lid with a nail.
Citrus Zest From PeelsWhenever I use fresh oranges, lemons or limes I use the finest side of my grater & grate the outer skin being careful not to grate the pitch (that's the white part of the fruit next to the skin). Then I let it air dry on a paper towel.
Make a Spice Bag with a Coffee FilterI am in the process of making pear butter this week and will be making pumpkin butter next week. My recipe said to place the spices in cloth and tie to make a spice bag. I didn't have any "cheese cloth" so I used a coffee filter and tied it with thread.
Make Your Own Mushroom PowderIf you get a super sale on mushrooms (mark downs); slice them and dry on cookie sheets on low in oven until crispy dry. I processed mine in a mini chopper and stored powder in spice jars.