An Embarrasment of Spices

Like most of us who spend a lot of time online, I participate on several message boards. On one of these (hi Trolls!), someone asked about spices — what would you consider a must-have? I listed a few off the top of my head and then decided that it would be a great idea, today, to actually inventory everything I have. I do it for the freezer, right, so why not the spice pantry?

I’ll tell you why not. Because I ended up with 91 items, and I know I missed a few things that are located elsewhere in the kitchen. And my first reaction was not “what on earth am I doing with all these things” but instead, “hey, I should place a Penzey’s order.”  Before we move away from that link, let me add that I love Penzey’s. They have excellent quality, and you can buy in small quantities for things you don’t use much of or just want to try. And if you know you love something, you can buy it in big bags, which is great — it reduces the amount of packaging you have to deal with and works out cheaper per ounce. In almost all cases, their stuff is cheaper than buying the same thing at the grocery store, and they have a lot more variety and you know it hasn’t been sitting around under bright lights for ages. End testimonial.

Anyway, I shall list, below, all the stuff I tallied up today. I included everything on the two spice shelves in my pantry, so that’s herbs, spices, blends, and miscellaneous stuff. I also keep a few chopped herbs in the freezer, because I think dried basil and cilantro are pretty much a waste. I do, in fact, actually use all these seasonings regularly enough to keep them stocked. Many are in small jars, because I don’t go through a LOT of them. I keep them in a cool, dark cupboard, which helps with the whole freshness thing, as much as I covet a gorgeous spice rack out in plain view. By the way, it’s not really worth freezing dried spices — they lose flavor just as quickly, and the condensation from temperature changes doesn’t do them any favors.

I think, since I have just realized I own a ridiculous quantity of spices, that I will try to do a series of blog posts detailing some uses for many of these. Some are pretty obvious, like, say, seasoning salt (it goes on everything, in case you didn’t know) but some are a little trickier: Epazote? Sumac? What?

In an attempt to keep this entry from making my blog’s front page ridiculously long (because I hate scrolling, I don’t know about you), I will hide my spice list behind the dreaded phrase:

So here it is, roughly categorized and sort of alphabetical by category. I am of course now inclined to make some sort of spice printable, although to make it useful for everyone else I’d probably like to narrow this down to a list of “essentials.” And will, you know, when I have more time than I do today. Since I used all my free time rearranging the spice cabinet. Ahem.

celery salt
chili powder, penzey’s medium hot
Chinese five spice powder
curry powder, sweet
garam masala
Italian dressing base
Northwoods seasoning
Old Bay
Sandwich sprinkle
seasoning salt
shichimi togarashi
taco seasoning, penzey’s bold
Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
chipotle, ground
crushed red pepper
korean red pepper
paprika, hungarian sweet
paprika, smoked spanish
beef bouillion
chicken bouillion
dashi powder
garlic powder
onion powder
vanilla beans, madagascar
almond extract
orange extract
rose water
vanilla extract, nielson-massey
vanilla extract, penzey’s
basil (frozen chopped leaf)
bay leaves
chives, dried
cilantro (frozen chopped leaf)
dill weed
gumbo file
lemongrass, dried
mint, frozen chopped leaf
parsley (frozen chopped leaf)
parsley, dried
sage, rubbed
savory leaves
tarragon leaves
salt, fleur de sel
salt, kosher
salt, sea
annatto seed
Bangkok Blend
cinnamon, ceylon
cinnamon, chinese cassia
cinnamon, extra fancy vietnamese
cinnamon, korintje cassia
coriander seed
cumin seeds
dill seed
fenugreek seed
ginger, ground
horseradish, ground (fridge)
juniper berries
mustard, brown seed
mustard, chinese yellow powdered
mustard, colman’s yellow powdered
mustard, yellow seed
peppercorns, india special extra bold
peppercorns, white
poppy seeds
pumpkin pie spice
sesame seeds, black
sesame seeds, white
szechuan peppercorns (mmm)
wasabi, powdered
cocoa powder
cocoa powder, dutch process
cream of tartar
ginger, crystallized
lemon zest, dried


5 thoughts on “An Embarrasment of Spices

  1. Oh I also know for certain he’d be interested in your “What to use it for” post…. because he really likes the thought of using spices, but is kind of leery of screwing something up because he doesn’t know enough about them.

  2. Hi! Are you me? I think I have all of those except epazote and gumbo file as I don’t really like them.

    And have you tried the Szechuan Pepper and Salt? I love it on cottage cheese for a quick little snack. Yum.

  3. I think your spice cabinet and my spice cabinet should get together and have a big orgy. I’m scared to know what I have in there…don’t think I have celery salt, though.

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