I enjoy making my own spice mixes when I have the time. This Homemade Taco Seasoning is a staple in my pantry. I have a dedicated coffee grinder which I use only for grinding spices, for example cumin or coriander seeds. You’ll find different estimates of how long to keep spices in your pantry, but there is no doubt that whole spices will last longer than ground. The natural flavors begin to dissipate as soon as they are pulverized.
How old are the herbs and spices in your pantry?
I was recently in the home of one of my students who has become a friend and has discovered the joy of cooking from scratch. As we began to explore his spice cabinet, we discovered that many of the spices were well past any sort of identification with their original flavor. When I picked up one of the containers, it fell apart in my hand. My student guessed that some of the spices in his cabinet came from his mother……..I won’t guess his age but suffice it to say, many, many years had passed. We had a good laugh over that. How old are the herbs and spices in your pantry? It’s time to take inventory.
“Spices are aromatic seasonings that come from the bark, (cinnamon), buds, (cloves), fruit, (paprika), roots, (ginger), or seeds, (nutmeg), of plants. Herbs, by contrast, are the leafy parts of plants such as basil, mint, or oregano.” This comes from Stephen Jones at the Reluctant Gourmet.
I haven’t yet tried drying my own herbs, but that is definitely on my “to do” list. I grow herbs, even though my thumb is definitely not green. It is such a joy to step outside in the summer and cut some stems for your dinner meal. Fresh herbs and spices added to your meals either while cooking or as garnishes is a key to kicking up your cooking skills and adding more healthy plants to your diet. This year I’m going to bring them inside for the winter and see how that works with my not-so-green thumb.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Use as needed in your favorite recipes.
Would you rather just buy spice mixes at the market?
If you prefer to buy your own spice mixes, you’ll enjoy these two articles from Food and Wine.
For more spice mixtures and ideas for different spices that compliment a particular cuisine, watch for upcoming articles.