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Old 06-20-2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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Does brand matter with herbs and spices?

I've gotten lots of recommendations for Penzye's Spices, so I was thinking of ordering some whole spices, like cumin and mustard seeds. I was wondering, however, if the cheap stuff in the grocery store is the same thing?

I know some items like black pepper can go anywhere from a few cents to several dollars in price, so what spices are worth spending extra on, and which ones doesn't it matter?

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Old 06-20-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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Which "cheap" stuff? Some of the $1 stuff gives me heartburn, mostly the powdered version. I use the cheap dried onion, and store brand pepper and sea salt. I usually buy my spices on sale.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:48 PM   #3
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My personal opinion is that it's worth the expense to buy spices from a reputable source.

You can order from Penzeys, or visit one of their stores depending on your location, that's what I do.

Another good source, and a low priced one, is ethnic grocers. If you have an Indian or Middle Eastern market in your area, you will find a wide variety of spices at a relatively low price. Not to mention the great aromas that greet you when you walk in the door.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
My personal opinion is that it's worth the expense to buy spices from a reputable source.

You can order from Penzeys, or visit one of their stores depending on your location, that's what I do.

Another good source, and a low priced one, is ethnic grocers. If you have an Indian or Middle Eastern market in your area, you will find a wide variety of spices at a relatively low price. Not to mention the great aromas that greet you when you walk in the door.
I agree with Andy, you really get what you pay for...
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:49 PM   #5
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I agree, to a point. Some store brands (Krogers, for instance) are just as good as the name brands, though.
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:13 PM   #6
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This can get confusing, price is not a good indicator of quality. The cheap $1 spices in the big bottles are not usually very good, but as another poster said, ethnic grocers usually sell their spices for a really low price, but are often really nice quality. I would say that you would be better off with cheap whole spices than cheap ground spices, who knows if there are fillers or undesirable parts of the spice are ground up in there.

McCormick and similar brands are often very expensive in the grocery store, they are good quality in my experience, but very overpriced (my store wants over $7 for less than an ounce of cloves).

If you have a World Market/Cost Plus near you, check out their selection, awesome prices and great quality.

If you don't have World Market/Cost Plus or ethnic markets in your area, then Penzy's is a great place to get spices online.
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:26 PM   #7
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I buy at ethnic grocers and restaurant supply. I share out the quantity if I know I can't use it all in a year or so. (some I portion out and freeze) but even tossing some stale after awhile it is so much cheaper than the bottles in the supermarket.

Cosco BJs and Sam's Club will also save you money on herbs and spices
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:07 AM   #8
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I also buy my spices at ethnic market. To me price is not always an indicator of quality when it comes to spices. A lot of it is packaging and how exotic it's categorized by the rest of the population.

I buy most of my spices in bulk and in just packets and I then do my own packaging in bottles etc.

I have atleast 3 dozen if not more herbs and spices (no joke :-)) and I only buy whole spices with the exception of turmeric and paprika that I buy ground.

Best place is ethnic stores as others indicated - Middleeastern, Indian, Mexican and I also have an italian market, all these places are cheap and good.
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:48 AM   #9
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I have been pleased with the spices in plastic bags found in the hispanic section of many grocery stores now. The cumin is always rich and fragrant, and the ginger I just bought
was the most aromatic and flavorful I've ever found.
AND... it was 99 cents, vs $3.98 for McCormick brand.
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:56 AM   #10
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Spices do not age well. Once they start to lose their potency due to age they decline quickly and quite hard. You end up with sawdust tasting spices. The mass markets spices you find in the supermarket can be OK, but the problem with them generally is that they can be quite old and thus have lost a lot of their potency. it is kind of a crap shoot. You may get some fresh stuff or you may get some stuff that is older than you. You just never know.

Places like Penzys and most ethnic markets do a lot of business in spices so their inventory turns over quickly. Because of that the spices are usually pretty fresh and potent.

I am a Penzys fanatic. I have never bought something there that I was unhappy with. And I find their prices better than the sprices in my supermarket. Of course I end up buying much more at Penzys then I would at the market so i do spend more money in the long run, but boy is it worth it to me.
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