- Date Your Spices
- When you buy new spices and get them home, write the date
on the side of the spice container. That way you will always
know how old your spices are. If they're over 1 year old,
you should probably throw them out and buy fresh. So don't
buy more than you think you will use in a year, even if
that huge jar of spice powder looks like a good buy for
- If you do find yourself with more of a spice than you
think you will use quickly, place it in a small zip-top
bag, rap the bag in foil, label this package, and store
in the freezer.
- Reviving Older Spices
- If your spices do get a little old you can bring out more
of their flavor by heating them for a few seconds in a small
dry skillet before use. Use low to medium heat, and keep
the spices moving. You just want to warm them through.
- Self Ground Spices
- Buy yourself a small coffee / spice grinder. They're only
about $10. Not only are fresh ground spices much more flavorful,
but whole spices keep better much longer. Comparing just
the smell of fresh ground black pepper or cinnamon to the
pre-ground stuff in a bottle will make a believer out of
Difference in Chili and Chile Powder
- Chile powder is pure dried chiles that
is ground into a powder. It contains nothing but the ground
dried chile, or a mix a several dried chiles.
- Chili powder is a blend of ground chile
(chile powder) and other spices. This usually includes cumin,
oregano, garlic powder, and sometimes salt
- Buying Fresh Chiles
- Fresh chiles, especially jalapenos and serranos, can vary
a lot in their levels of heat. The best way that I have
find to choose the hotter chiles is to look for the ones
with the fine cracks on the outer skin. Look for firm shinny
skinned chiles with the fine brown lines. I'm not saying
to always get the hottest chiles, just that this is a way
to help pick chiles with a constant level of heat. If still
in doubt, taste the chile before using in your cooking to
judge the heat level.
- Storing Fresh Herbs
- Most fresh herbs will keep the longest if you wash them
if needed, lay them out evenly on paper towels, roll them
up in the paper towels, seal them in a plastic zip bag,
and then store in the vegetable crisper. The hardier herbs
will keep longest, but you'll get days or weeks out of most
herbs. This also works extremely well with lettuce.
- For herbs that don't take cold and moisture very well,
like basil, place them in a glass with enough water so that
the stems are in the water but not the foliage. Put the
glass in a cool spot in the kitchen or in the refrigerator
on a self near the door in the front (this should be one
of the warmer areas of you fridge).
- Reviving Limp Celery
- When celery loses its crispness, cut a thin slice off
the bottom end(s), and place it in a picture of ice water.
Let the celery sit in the water for a couple of hours. Remove
the celery from the water and you should find that it's
got most of its original crispness back.
- Keeping Buttermilk
- Very few people keep buttermilk around all the time anymore.
Our solution is to buy the powdered
buttermilk in the baking isle. You can keep this on
hand at all times (we keep ours in the freezer for longer
life). Just follow the directions, adding the powder to
the dry ingredients, and then add the correct amount of
water to the wet ingredients. We use this in almost all
recipes calling for buttermilk and no longer have to make
the special trip to the market for the regular buttermilk.