Throw out your old spices!

For me the next 6 weeks are about family and food. I cook new recipes, but mostly the old ones. I bake my grandmother’s stollen and S kuchen. I don’t brine my turkey because I don’t want the gravy to be too salty.

Perhaps nothing gives food more flavor than spices. It is the time of year for cardamon and cloves, sage and bay leaves, just to start. I took a break this morning from reading files and toasted up a new batch of garam masala, the recipe I like best from among many. In the process I found an old commercial jar of same, so I could actually taste compare the two, touching the flat of my tongue on a sample plate to one then the other. I threw out the sawdust that was the old bottle.

I got ambitious and threw out the sage and the bay leaves. I kept the whole cloves and the cumin seeds. When I get home, I’ll throw out the other old spices. If they are ground, they will not last long. Every Thanksgiving is a good time to be sure to start with fresh spices. It could be the spice new year!

About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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