Fresh Spices

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The Z

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I'm thinking of cleaning out my spice cupboard+rack and getting all new spices. I know fresh is best, and I don't want to have any stale spices cluttering up my space.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to determine where best to get the freshest spices in my area? How do I know whether or not spices in the store are any fresher than the ones I already have?

I live in Las Vegas, and there is a nice 'Chinatown' area as well as supermarkets that specialize in Hispanic/Mexican food. Do you think these are the best places to go for spice?

Thanks.
 

The Z

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PA Baker said:
I know a lot of folks on this site swear by Penzey's Spices. I'm sure that all of their products will be quality and fresh.

Very cool! Thank you. Now I just need to do my "Spring cleaning" and make a list. I like on-line shopping and, if I can have some level of confidence regarding freshness, it'll save me a lot of leg- and guess-work. :D
 

GB

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Here is another vote for Penzys. I absolutely love their stuff. As far as brick and mortar stores, you want to make sure the place you buy spices from actually sells a lot of them. This will help you be sure that the spices are not sitting in the store for months and months.
 

The Z

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GB said:
Here is another vote for Penzys. I absolutely love their stuff. As far as brick and mortar stores, you want to make sure the place you buy spices from actually sells a lot of them. This will help you be sure that the spices are not sitting in the store for months and months.

Yeah... well... the question is: How would I know how much stock any particular store moves unless I know someone (well) who manages or works at the store. If I just ask them, I'm sure I'll be TOLD that the spices are very fresh and that they sell a lot of them all the time... blah, blah, blah.... ya know?

Thanks for the Penzey's vote. I've just been on their site loading up my shopping cart. ;)
 

GB

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Hang out in the store for a little while and see how busy the store it. Stand near the spices and watch to see if people are buying them. Obviously you are not going to spend an hour doing this, but just go and try to hang for a few minutes and be observant.

Are the spices in big barrels where the bottom of the barrel has been there for years, or are the spices stored in smaller containers? Also make sure that they keep the spices in a darker part of the store away from heat. If they keep then next to a window then it might not be the best place to buy from.

The easiest way to tell though is just buy a sample. get a small amount of some of your favorites. You will be able to tell right away if you want to buy more from that store.
 

The Z

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I'm kinda liking the Penzeys site... and their explanations of some of the subtle differences in similar spices. I'll probably end up ordering a few new ones as a result.... I like their site a lot.

Thanks for your suggestions though... and I'll probably do that next time I go (especially) to the Hispanic/Mexican Supermarket. I enjoy spending time there (even if I only need to pick up a few specific items).... I guess it's a sickness.
 

GB

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LOL it is not a sickness at all, well at least not among members of this site ;)

Make sure to sign up for Pensys catalog. actually they will send you one with your order. The catalog is much better than the website. They explain things very well and things are organized much better, plus they have a few recipes and stuff as well. They also give you suggestions on how to use their spices.
 

norgeskog

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In Eugene where I live, we have a local market who has everything you need in bulk. So, when I need a dried herb or spice, I get a couple of tablespoons of them and replace as needed then there is no stale stuff to toss. I do the same there with all kinds of flour, sugar, pasta, nuts, grains, cereal, candies, and strange flours, corn meal, polenta, I could go on for hours. This and Trader Joe's gets all my food budget.
 

The Z

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norgeskog said:
In Eugene where I live, we have a local market who has everything you need in bulk. So, when I need a dried herb or spice, I get a couple of tablespoons of them and replace as needed then there is no stale stuff to toss. I do the same there with all kinds of flour, sugar, pasta, nuts, grains, cereal, candies, and strange flours, corn meal, polenta, I could go on for hours. This and Trader Joe's gets all my food budget.

Eugene isn't one of those "hippie havens" is it? ;) If it is, you're kinda lucky... they always seem to have those kinds of little markets (I used to live in Flagstaff... it was like that, too). I've been in Vegas for a couple years now and still haven't found anything that could be considered "reliable". It would be really nice to be able to pick up fresh herbs/spices as needed.
 

norgeskog

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The Z said:
norgeskog said:

Eugene isn't one of those "hippie havens" is it? ;) If it is, you're kinda lucky... they always seem to have those kinds of little markets (I used to live in Flagstaff... it was like that, too). I've been in Vegas for a couple years now and still haven't found anything that could be considered "reliable". It would be really nice to be able to pick up fresh herbs/spices as needed.

I think Eugene coined the word, but now the original hippies are grand or great grand parents and the kids are running the farms with the organic and natural foods. It is quite lovely and I enjoy Eugene. Never a dull day here.
 

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