Make Your Own Cooking Spices

Learn how to make your own cooking spice mixtures.

Making your own spices is not as difficult as many people think. Not only do these taste better than store purchased spices, they are fresher, and also can be adapted to your needs. For instance if you are on a low sodium diet, if the spice recipe calls for salt, either omit the salt or cut the amount down. Also if you enjoy your spices a little hotter, add a little more hot pepper. It is very easy to adapt any of these recipes to meet your needs.

The several items that you need to make your own spices are containers in which to store your spices. Small glass jars work well, recycled baby food jars are excellent, or save old spice containers. Also a spice mill is needed, these can be small electric choppers or a coffee bean grinder. If you do use a coffee grinder, I would suggest having a separate machine for doing coffee. The oils in some of the spices will be hard to remove and could taint the taste of your coffee.

If need be, you can grind your spices in bunches, then combine together in your storage container. Shake to blend.

While not all spice mixtures need to be ground, if you want powdered spices this is a step that must be done. If you prefer whole spice mixtures, just combine and store.

CURRY POWDER: this is best made in small batches, the flavors will tend to fade or become acrid if stored too long.

2 ½ teaspoons fenugreek

20 medium cardamom pods, hit the pods with a meat pounder or the flat side of a cleaver to crack them and release the seeds, you will need 1 teaspoon of seeds.

3 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 tablespoon mustard seed

6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, break into 2 or 3 pieces

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoon turmeric

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Combine the fenugreek, cardamom, coriander, cumin and mustard seeds, cloves and the cinnamon sticks in a small pan and bake for 15 minutes. Be sure to stir this several times. After 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

Combine your toasted spices with the mace, nutmeg, cayenne and turmeric in a spice mill. Grind into a powder. Store in an airtight container.

CHILI POWDER: with this recipe you will have to experiment to find the perfect combination of dried chilies for you. I have just used two different types of dried chilies as an example. If you grow your own chili peppers, dry your own then turn them into home made chili powder.

2 large dried pasilla chili peppers

1 large dried ancho chili pepper

2 teaspoons cumin

1/4 teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon whole allspice

2 tablespoons oregano

1 tablespoon garlic salt

Remove the stems and seeds from the chili peppers. If you want hotter chili powder, leave several seeds. Tear the flesh of the chilies into small pieces. Combine the chili flesh in a skillet along with the cumin, cloves, coriander and allspice. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until there is a popping noise and you can smell the peppers. Remove from heat and cool completely. Combine in the spice mill with the oregano and garlic salt, grind into a fine powder. Store in airtight containers.

MIXED PICKLING SPICE: this can be used as a replacement to pickling spices in any pickle recipe.

4 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces

1 1-inch piece dried gingerroot, chopped

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons whole allspice

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 teaspoons whole cloves

2 teaspoons dill seed

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons whole mace

8 bay leaves, broke into pieces

1 small dried hot pepper, chopped

Combine these items and store in an airtight container.

GARLIC SALT: this makes a wonderfully fresh tasting home made garlic salt.

3/4 cup coarse salt

½ cup peeled garlic cloves

Pour the salt into a container of a blender (a food processor can be used also). Cover and start the blender. Through the opening in the cover, add the garlic in a steady flow. Blend this mixture until a paste forms, stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the container.

Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper and spread the garlic paste on the paper. Dry this paste in a warm oven at approximately 100 degrees in an electric oven, or by pilot light in a gas stove. Be sure to stir this mixture occasionally.

Drying the paste will take approximately 3 hours, then return it to the blender and grind into a powder. Store in an airtight container.

It is also very easy to make your own premixed spice combinations and store them in an airtight container. For example my favorite mixture for use on fish is:

1 teaspoon dill weed, 1 teaspoon dill seed, 1 teaspoon lemon or orange peel, 1 teaspoon dried garlic, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon oregano, and a bit of salt and pepper.

I just mix this up ahead of time, or when I am harvesting and drying herbs. Instead of having to pull numerous containers from the cupboard to season my fish, there it is all premixed for me.

Be creative, experiment in putting different herbs together to come up with your own home made spice combinations.

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