Dried Herbs and Spices - Homemade Blends and Resources

People, here's the thing: we all do it. You pick up a spice intending to make some new dish that will dazzle...and you just don't get around to it. Or, you do, but then it wasn't dazzling enough to become a regular thing and here it is six months or maybe a year or two after the "use by" date on the bottle. And yet, we never throw these away. I found a bottle of some "chili spice" in my mom's cabinet that dated from around the time of the first moon landing. There's probably something in my own spice cabinet older than small children I know.

So, one of these snowy days when you've done all the jigsaw puzzles you have and are sick of Netflix, take a box or bag over to the cabinet and begin. If it's too overwhelming, just do one shelf.

I dump the contents and save bottles that can be reused.

five spices

Favorite DIY Spice blends

Making your own spice blends is fun. It's a kick to have your own Chinese Five Spice powder on the next roast chicken or to sprinkle into your next fried rice. Or, make some of these killer spiced nuts.

 

Chinese 5 Spice nuts

 

DIY and better for you "Sazon" 

Make the best yellow rice, season grains, add to soups and sauces to bring some umami and color to a dish. This has turmeric, a bit of dried garlic, some kombu.

Turmeric_OPT Turmeric - terrific for you with anti-inflammatory and other benefits. Turmeric can stand in for saffron in a pinch, but also stand on its own merit in many dishes.

 

Thanksgiving Spice

You may have heard of a spice blend called Bell's Seasoning. I decided one year to make my own. It's a quintessential Thanksgiving fragrance, perfect on turkey, chicken or pork. Sage is the driving force of this one.

spice blend

Fajita Spice

This is a blend I used when marinating meat for burrito or taco night. Making chili? Red beans? Toss it in! Great on pork, chicken, beef. It changes from batch to batch but always includes cumin, various chili powders like ancho, chipotle, and oregano.

Fajita Spice

Tuscan Herb and Garlic Salt

This one is a blast to make because your kitchen smells divine: rosemary, sage, garlic and salt. You'll be singing like a Nonna and dreaming of Tuscany. I follow the recipe on Lynne Rosetto Kasper's Splendid Table whenever I see great looking sage. Sprinkle this over beans, in soup, on a roast chicken. Simple to do, you simply chop all these fresh ingredients together with salt and let it dehydrate - or use your dehydrate function if you have one on your stove.

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Quatre Epices

This sexy little blend enlivens lamb, beef or chicken. It's a classic French blend of warm and slightly sweet spices. I follow Deb Krasner's recipe (try her Red Barn spice, too) and bump it up to Cinq or five spices.

Quatre Epices

Gomashio

I add flax to the traditional sesame salt grinder common in Japanese households.

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Shopping for dried herbs and spices? Don't go to the grocery - latimes.com.

What is the oldest spice in your cabinet?

Drop me an answer in the comments and the oldest one gets a batch of my next custom spice blend!