Recharge Your Coffee With These Freshly Ground Spices

There are many ways to add flavour to your brewed coffee, and freshly ground spices are one of the healthiest ways to enhance a cup of java. If you are tired of the usual sugar and milk combination that you always stick to, try one of these spicy blends the next time you put a pot of coffee on the machine.

Recharge Your Coffee With These Ground Spices

For best results, use good quality ground coffee in a plunger or a machine. Grind your selected whole spices just before you start making the coffee, then add them to the ground coffee and make as usual. This will allow the spices to infuse into the coffee as it percolates, which in turn will ensure full flavour and aroma.

Best Whole Spices to Add to Your Coffee

Depending on your mood and taste preferences, you could choose to add any of the following whole spices to your coffee…

  • Cardamom. This exotic spice is frequently used for coffee in the Middle East. Commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, it is said to help neutralise the stimulating effects of caffeine. It also adds a delicious dose of flavour. Grind a few whole cardamom seeds and then sprinkle the powder into your coffee before brewing.
  • Salt. As strange as it sounds, many believe that salt helps to balance the bitterness of strong coffee. Of course, a good quality coffee that is made properly won’t be bitter, but freshly ground salt can maximise the flavour of coffee. It is said to be especially effective in cold coffee.
  • Cinnamon. Warm, delicious and full of flavour, cinnamon has plenty of health benefits, too. Try breaking up a stick and placing small chunks of bark into your spice grinder. You can then grind the bark directly over your ground coffee before brewing.
  • Cocoa or Cacao Nibs. For a dose of healthy chocolate goodness, try grinding cocoa or cacao nibs over your coffee before brewing. While not quite a spice, this raw chocolate makes an excellent addition to your coffee. Dried, fermented cocoa or cacao beans are crunchy with a nutty, less creamy flavour compared to dark chocolate. The nibs have many health benefits, and do not contain added sugars and preservatives.
  • Nutmeg. You can grate nutmeg directly over your coffee before roasting for depth and earthy sweetness, or prepare grated nutmeg in advance and grind the grated pieces after they have dried out. The warm smell of this spice makes it amazing, while the taste is sure to add an extra something to your favourite coffee blends.
  • Moroccan Blend. Cinnamon, black peppercorns, ginger, nutmeg, green cardamom and clove are used in a traditional Moroccan spice blend made especially for coffee. Prepare the spices by grinding before you start the coffee, or make a slightly large amount to have on hand.

Make sure that you have a selection of good quality spice grinders to grind and store your favourite spices. This will make it easier to prepare your own custom coffee blends using whichever whole spices suit your current mood.

Choosing the Best Peppercorn For Your Spice Grinder

One of the most ubiquitous whole spices used in spice grinders all over the world is without a doubt the humble peppercorn. This spice can be found in almost every part of the world, and is used in almost every global cuisine. While black pepper is the best known of all the peppercorn varieties, there are also other varieties that can add plenty of flavour, aroma and complexity to dishes.

Best Types of Peppercorn to Use in Your Spice Grinder

It is important to note that until you have tasted freshly ground pepper milled directly onto food, you cannot truly appreciate the taste of this heady spice. Equal parts pungent, rich and sharp, the taste and smell is distinctive, working well over a simple piece of avocado toast, perfectly brewed cup of chai or an elaborate five-star dish worthy of MasterChef. Already ground pepper is very different to freshly ground, with much of the flavour and freshness lost within 30 days of the spice being ground. As peppercorns are ground whole, the flavour is protected inside the outer shell of the dried berry. The grinding mechanism of a spice grinder breaks through this shell, releasing the flavour inside.

The scent of whole peppercorns does however reveal a hint of the flavour to come. If you visit a spice market, and compare different peppercorn varieties, you will soon notice this subtle difference in aroma.

Which Peppercorns Should You Have in Your Pepper Grinders?

As each kind offers its own distinct flavour, you may find that it’s handy to have a few different kinds of peppercorn. Stocking up on a few good quality spice grinders is the best way to grow your spice collection and enjoy delicious, fresh, whole spices for every meal.

All pepper comes from the same plant – Piper nigrum. Varieties differ according to when the berries are picked, and how they are processed to achieve the final colour and flavour.

  • Green Peppercorns.  Popular in Thai, French and Creole cuisine, green peppercorns are picked before the berries have matured, while they are still in their green stage. They are typically air-dried, freeze-dried or pickled in brine to avoid fermentation and keep them from ripening after plucking. This type of pepper is aromatic and fresh, but milder than other types. This type is often used in traditional peppercorn sauces. As a fair amount of processing is required, and the yield is often smaller for immature berries, they cost bit more than black or white peppercorns.
  • Pink or Rose Pepper.  Pink pepper is not a true pepper, but is actually a dried berry from a tree that is found on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Often, in cookbooks and supermarkets, this type of pepper is called ‘red peppercorns’ – true red peppercorns are very rare however. The flavour is very similar to black pepper, but a little milder and sweeter. It can be on the pricey side as berries are imported and therefore not easily found at spice markets and supermarkets.
  • White Peppercorns.  White peppercorns are fully mature berries that are picked when partially ripe. Their skins are removed by soaking the berries in water for a few days and then rubbing them off manually or mechanically. The smell is earthy, while the taste is hot and spicy. As the flavour is very distinctive, it is often used in sauces, soups and dishes rather than as a final seasoning on its own. The additional processing steps also make this pepper slightly more expensive than black pepper, even when buying spices from the same region.
  • Black Peppercorns.  The most common type of pepper, black peppercorns are mature berries that are picked before ripening, as they begin to move from green to yellow. The berries are boiled briefly, then left to ferment and dry in the sun or dried by air heating, until they turn black and wrinkled. The taste is moderately spicy, especially when ground from whole peppercorns.

Each peppercorn has its own place in your spice grinder, as you can see! Try them all, and you will soon begin to enjoy the versatility and taste that freshly ground peppercorns add to your meals.

11 Fascinating Facts About Whole Spices

You use whole spices every day in the kitchen (hopefully freshly ground with the help of a good quality spice grinder!) but you may not have known the interesting history and background behind everyday herbs and spices.

Spices have been used for thousands of years, by many cultures all over the world. From the traditional spices of India to the hot seasonings of Mexico, the complex blends used in Chinese cooking, the simple combinations favoured in French and Italian dishes and the tried-and-trusted favourites used in South Africa, a meal without spice will literally not taste the same.

Facts About Whole Spices

The diverse origin of spices shows just how much of a history seasonings have had over time, while also showing a number of surprising benefits and unique features!

Things You Never Knew About Whole Spices & Herbs

Some things about whole spices that you may or may not have known include the following:

  1. Red peppers are one of the highest sources of vitamin C. Paprika, which is a tasty spice made from red pepper has more vitamin C than lemon juice when compared by weight. This spice is also rich in other antioxidants, making it an excellent one for daily health.
  2. The hottest chilli in the world award goes to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chilli. This chilli pepper puts new meaning to the term ‘red hot’, and is apparently able to burn its way through latex gloves!
  3. Nutmeg is known for its deliciously sweet taste that is ideal for baking and desserts and curries. This spice is also a psychotropic – in high enough doses, it causes hallucinations, delusions and an impending feeling of doom.
  4. The powerful, pungent spices of mustard and wasabi are only spicy once when are crushed. In whole seed form, they have a much milder flavour. Once their cells are damaged, components within the plant combine to create allyl isothiocyanate, which is a compound that gives these spices a pungent taste.
  5. The spice known as allspice is often assumed to be a blend of spices. In reality, this spice comes from a berry of a Jamaican plant known as pimento. The nickname is likely to have come from the spice’s well-rounded flavour, which tastes a little like cinnamon, nutmeg and gloves combined. This spice is commonly used in sweet and savoury dishes.
  6. Pepper is one of the oldest spices in the world. Peppercorns are believed to have been used in food for the last 4,000 years. From as far back as the 4th Century BC, texts mention this spice being used to prepare feasts in India.
  7. Another nutmeg fact – this plant actually produces two spices, which are nutmeg as we know it and another spice known as mace. Nutmeg is the seed, while mace is the covering on the seed. They have similar flavours, with mace being a bit stronger. Nutmeg was at one point considered so exotic that the Dutch allegedly traded the island of Manhattan to the British in return for nutmeg growing islands owned by the British Empire.
  8. There is a big misconception that spicy foods such as chilli can cause stomach ulcers. In reality, spicy foods actually have the opposite effect. They stimulate the protective lining of the stomach, helping to kill bacteria that cause ulcers. Other foods that have similar properties include garlic, onion and oregano.
  9. The most expensive spice in the world is saffron, which is grown in Iran, India and Mexico. The spice is commonly used for its rich, complex flavour but is also popular for the bright yellow colour it infuses into dishes.
  10. Cumin is a popular spice for curries and savoury food, with a history that dates back to Biblical times. The Romans and Greeks often used this spice for seasoning. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that cumin promoted fidelity, and the pretty pink and white flowers were often used in wedding ceremonies.
  11. The deliciously sweet cinnamon is one of the few spices taken from the bark of a tree rather than its leaves, berries or seeds. It is very similar to cassia but the latter is not as pure. Bark is carefully taken from the tree and then put out to dry. In warm, dry environments, the bark forms perfectly dried quills in up to six hours. These quills are them cut and packaged for sale.

The next time you are cooking up a storm, stop for a moment and consider the amazing journey that your favourite whole spices have come to get from their origin to your pepper grinder.

Whole Spices for Every Cuisine

Whatever your taste buds prefer, having a few spice grinders is the best way to integrate a variety of whole spices into a world of flavoursome cuisine styles. From Asian to Indian; Mexican to Italian and even Middle Eastern, spice plays a vital role in many of the dishes enjoyed around the world. While it is possible to buy pre-ground spices when cooking exotic dishes, buying whole preserves the full aroma and taste, while also giving you the best health benefits.

Today, we take a look at some of the best whole spices to use when cooking various cuisine styles.

Explore a World of Flavours With Whole Spices

Some spices and herbs may overlap. After all, as diverse as our planet may be, certain staples are enjoyed everywhere. While the same spices may be used in Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian cuisine, they are used completely differently in each part of the world. So, you might have a spice such as cumin, cardamom or chilli appear internationally, but how that spice is introduced into food will be totally unique to each region. This is what makes spice such an amazing addition to dishes – it allows you to add a huge depth of flavour and experiment with combinations, ingredients and varietals.

  • Asian Cuisine

Chinese and Thai spices include dried pomegranate seeds, whole green aniseed, black onion seeds, black peppercorns, caraway seeds, cardamom seeds (black and green), cinnamon, cloves, black cumin, fennel seeds, fenugreek leaves, green peppercorns, mustard seeds, stone flower, punch puran, dried chilli, kokum seeds, sesame seeds (white and black), dried hibiscus flower, dried plums, white pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, star anise, dried citrus peel, allspice berries, bay leaves, and dried sand ginger.

  • Indian Cuisine

Spices used in Indian meals include coriander seeds, curry leaves, garam masala, nutmeg, dried chilli, saffron, linseed, aniseed, caraway seeds, black and green cardamom, cinnamon bark, dried melon seeds, Charoli seeds, cloves, cumin, dagarful, fenugreek (leaves and seeds), dried garlic flakes, halon seeds, black kokum, liquorice root, long pepper, lovage seeds, mace, mustard seeds (black, yellow and brown), crispy fried onion, onion seeds, popped lotus seeds, blue and white poppy seeds, and tamarind seeds.

  • Mexican Cuisine

Spices used in Mexican meals include a wide variety of fresh and dried chilli (Chipotle, Ancho, Pasilla, Habanero, Guajillo, Serrano and De Arbol), as well as dried garlic, cumin, coriander, Canela (also known as Ceylon or ‘true’ cinnamon), dried avocado leaves, anise, cloves, mint, basil, dried onion, nutmeg, annatto seed and Mexican oregano. It is important to learn about each type of chilli before using – some can be extremely hot, while others are on the milder side.

  • Italian Cuisine

Spices and herbs used in Italian cooking include anise, star anise, basil, bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, juniper berries, parsley, oregano, dried and fresh rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, sage, hot pepper, black peppercorns, thyme, fennel seeds, dried garlic and dried tomato powder. Often, the focus is on fresh herbs, but some can be dried and crushed in a spice grinder. Ideally, it is best to stick to one or two seasonings rather than mixing too many.

  • Middle Eastern Cuisine

Spices and herbs used in Middle Eastern cuisine include cumin, coriander, turmeric, dried mint, Aleppo chilli, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, Moroccan coriander seeds, cumin, fenugreek, paprika, saffron, sumac, Turkish urfa biber pepper, sesame and caraway. Many blends are also used, including Baharat (allspice, black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and dried chilli peppers or paprika).

Stocking up on a good range of glass or plastic bottled spice grinders is a great way to build a spice collection that will allow you to experiment with many different types of spice. By choosing quality whole spices, you will get the best results from your delicious meals.

How Long Can You Store Spices in Your Spice Grinder?

There is no doubt that freshly ground spices have a lot more flavour and benefits than old spices – this is, after all, why you have invested in a decent spice grinder and why you grind your own spices. But how long can you keep your favourite spices without the risk of spoilage or lost health benefit, aroma and flavour?

Before we give you some guidelines on typical shelf life of these aromatic condiments, it is first worth noting that how you look after your spices will play a big role in how long they last. Some people believe that storing spices in the fridge will retain their power for longer. Some may even keep spices such as ginger or chilli in the freezer. There are many viewpoints on this, but for the most part, subjecting your spices and herbs to harsh temperatures (cold or otherwise) may end up causing more harm than good. Ideally, spices and herbs should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or shelf that is out of the way of direct sunlight.

Using smaller amounts instead of grinding the entire leaf, root or spice will also help to keep them fresher for longer. Keeping your grinders clean and avoiding contamination from other sources is also advised, so instead of using the same grinder to prepare pepper, salt, coriander and cloves, rather invest in a few grinders to use for different types of spice.

Preserving Whole Spices without Spoilage

With that said, a good guideline of how long various types of whole spices will keep in your grinders or in sealed containers or bottles will give you an idea of typical shelf life. Guidelines include the following:

  • Whole, unground spices, herbs, leaves and edible flowers: 1 – 2 years
  • Spice seeds: 2 – 3 years
  • Whole roots: 2 – 3 years
  •  Ground spices and herbs (prepared from whole): 1 year
  • Ground roots (prepared from whole): 2 years


These guidelines refer to the amount of time before a spice or herb will spoil. Some spices however are best fresh, and while they may still be technically unspoilt, they may start to lose their flavour and potency after a while. The best way to determine whether or not a spice is still fresh, or whether it is close to its spoiling date is to consider the colour and the smell. Old spices that are no long as potent will have a dull, muted colour compared to their original shade. Likewise, they may not smell as flavoursome as they did when you first purchased them.

By looking after your spices, buying smaller amounts to use in a shorter space of time rather than stocking up in bulk, and regularly checking your spices appearance and aroma, you should be able to prevent spoilage.

Investing in a good set of spice grinders will also help to keep your favourite spices fresh when they are in the grinders, so be sure to stock up on some decent quality grinders so that you get the most from your favourite spices.

Getting the Most From Your Spice Grinder

If you love using freshly ground spices in your food, then you most likely have at least one or two spice grinders in your kitchen. Whether made from glass or high grade plastic, you may think that you have to replace the entire grinder when your spices run out, but if you don’t wish to toss (or better yet, recycle) the grinder bottles, you can reuse them for many more years to come. First however, you need to make sure that you keep your grinders in good shape so that they last as long as possible.

Today, we will share a few tips on cleaning your grinder, reusing empty spice grinders, keeping the lids and bottles protected against the elements and other steps you can take to save on the costs of buying brand new grinders whenever your favourite spices run out.

Tips for Making Spice Grinders Last Longer

Some useful tips for making your grinders last as long as possible include the following:

  1. Invest in good quality grinders. Having a good grinder or two, or even a whole set, will ensure that you have the best quality to start with, which will go a long way in making sure that the bottles and lids last. Glass bottles are easy to clean, and if cleaned correctly they do not retain any odours or residue. If using plastic, look for high grade materials such as PET, which is a recyclable material that is eco-friendly and long-lasting.
  2. Organise your spices. To further ensure that bottles stay in good shape, try to organise your spices in specific bottles for each type of spice. For example, salt and pepper mills should be kept in their own bottles, and aromatic spices used in different bottles. Or, you could organise by hot spices and sweet spices. Using cinnamon in a former cayenne pepper bottle (especially without cleaning it) may result in some rather interesting baking experiments, to say the least.
  3. Invest in a bottle brush. These are very handy for cleaning bottles, as the name implies, but they are also good for washing tall glasses, jars and various other items that are harder to reach with a regular brush or sponge. You can find them in the baby product aisle of most supermarkets, or at chemists. The long shape and soft bristle will allow you to thoroughly clean empty spice bottles to remove all traces of spice before reusing them.
  4. Clean bottles and lids thoroughly. You may use a small brush, like a toothbrush, to clear the inside parts of the bottle and then a slightly damp cloth for the outside.
  5. Replace lids that no longer work properly. Obviously, you will need to get new grinders at some stage eventually. If the lid does not close properly, if you cannot get rid of odours anymore, if the grinding mechanism is not working or any signs of damage are visible, replace the lids and recycle the old ones.

One of the advantages of purchasing your grinders from a specialist such as Global Grinders is that you have the ability to purchase bottle sets, individual bottles or lids as and when needed. With various lid options that range from screw on to shakers and even adjustable grinders for course or finely ground spice, we have a great range of spice grinders to suit all of your cooking needs.

Why Every Kitchen Needs a Spice Grinder (Or Few)

Most kitchens have a pepper grinder, some have a salt grinder, but not all kitchens have spice grinders that are used for condiments outside of the basic seasonings.

Whether you love spending time in the kitchen cooking up a storm or you prefer to focus on the bare minimums as long as someone else does the actual cooking, adding freshly ground spices is the best way to liven up just about any meal. Having a good grinder (or few) can go a long way in making it easier to experiment with different spices, add flavour to your favourite meals and benefit from the health advantages that many spices and herbs have to offer.

The humble grinder then should perhaps be getting a bit more attention than it currently does. Keep reading to find out why a spice grinder will help spice things up, in more ways than one.

How Spice Grinders Make Life Easier… and More Flavoursome

In addition to weird and wacky spice grinders that can be found in novelty stores, the basic types of grinder are designed to be functional and simple. Generally speaking, it is possible to grind a huge variety of things in a grinder – including seeds, crisps, herbs and spices. Some of the ways that these unassuming gadgets help make things easier include the following:

  • Ground whole spices have far more taste than store-brought ground spices. And unlike store-brought spice, you do not have to worry about any additives or flavourings, either. Many brand name spice makers use sneaky ingredients to make their products last longer on the shelves. This is good for business, but not so good for your health. Grinding your own ensures that your food is always seasoned perfectly, with the full flavour provided by freshly ground seasonings.
  • Spices are good for your health. You could save yourself future visits to the doctor if you use some of the most beneficial spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika and cayenne pepper. Sadly, pre-ground spice loses much of its healing abilities – especially after it is doctored with additives to make it last longer on the shelf. Check out our list of benefits from whole spice to learn more about how these power seasonings can make life healthier and better all round – for body, skin and hair.
  • Preparing your favourite spices will make cooking simpler. We do not recommend grinding very large amounts to keep, but in smaller doses for a week or so, you can prepare your favourite blends to have on hand while you are cooking. This will make it easier to make your favourite curries, stews and dishes, with everything you need ready and waiting. Shopping at your local spice merchant will allow you to try new flavours that you have not tried yet. Making mini batches to sample is also a great way to explore different flavours.

Stocking up on a few different spice grinders will help you get full use out of your spices, without the risk of flavour contamination. Visit Global Grinders to view our full selection of grinders and bottles today!

5 Essential Whole Spices for Healthy Living

Whole spices have long been associated with health benefits, acting as a natural alternative to salt, sugar and other unhealthy additives. But surprisingly, the use of spice is still not as widespread as it ought to be in the western world.

It goes without saying that quality makes all the difference as far as spice shopping is concerned. Buying your spices fresh, whole and (where possible) organic gives you the best chance of getting every ounce of goodness that these aromatic seasonings have to offer. Using pre-ground spices is sometimes unavoidable – especially when life gets hectic and you don’t have anything fresh on hand. A simple way to ensure that you always get the most from your spices and herbs is to prepare your own mixes in advance, which you can store for a few weeks in a cool, dark place. Investing in a spice grinder is a must, allowing you to easily grind your favourite spices to have them on hand for cooking, meal preparation and beverages.

Which whole spices have the most benefit to your health, and how can you use these super spices to get the optimal healthy boost? Keep reading to find out.

Fast-Track Your Health With These Powerful Whole Spices

Some of the spices that you should add to your collection include the following:

  1. Cinnamon. This sweet spice is known for its versatility in desserts, baking, cookies, pancakes and chai tea, but it can be used in savoury foods as well. This spice has antioxidant properties, along with antidiabetic properties and anti-inflammatory properties.  Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of the spice, has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and when applied topically as oil or ground spice, cinnamon also has a number of skin and hair benefits. Try adding a sprinkle to your tea or coffee, over oatmeal or even to soaps, stews and sauces. You can also use whole sticks as stirrers in your favourite hot beverage (it is particularly tasty with hot chocolate and cocoa!).
  2. Paprika. Made from red peppers, this hot spice is high in capsicum – a strong antioxidant that is good for the immune system. It has a high level of carotenoids, providing an excellent dose of vitamin A. In fact, just one tablespoon of paprika gives you over 100% of your daily vitamin A allowance. This vitamin helps to promote vision, reducing night vision and improve eyesight. While you probably won’t want to get your dose with a tablespoon of straight paprika, adding this spice to green tea, honey and lemon drinks, avocado sandwiches, potato salad, pasta and other meals will help you get the benefit of its vitamin-enriched goodness.
  3. Cayenne Pepper. Helping to ease upset stomach, ulcers, sore throats and coughs, this anti-irritant spice is made from chili peppers, and is as hot as they get. But despite its uber spicy reputation, this spice is full of powerful nutrients. It is a natural pain reliever, boasting anti-allergen, anti-flu and anti-cold and anti-fungal properties. Its high levels of capsicum make it great as an all-round immune system booster, too. The best way to get the benefit of this spice is to slowly start to add a tiny amount to your diet, so that you can get used to it without being put off by its spiciness. You can also use it on wounds by sprinkling it directly over the injury, in order to stop bleeding.
  4. Ginger. An old favourite for colds and tummy bugs, ginger is the ultimate ‘feel better’ spice. Used along with lemon and honey in hot toddies, it is great for colds and flu. Used whole, cut into slices, it can be added to tea or hot water to help reduce nausea. Motion sickness, upset stomachs, morning sickness and various other tummy problems can all be eased with ginger. It can be used ground, whole or even as an oil. Make your own ginger tea by adding freshly sliced ginger to your favourite Ceylon or rooibos tea.
  5. Turmeric. This bright yellow spice contains curcumin – a substance that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has loads of healthy properties that make it good for everything from heartburn and headaches to arthritis, colds and tummy bugs. Used topically in skincare treatments, it is just as powerful; offering exfoliating and skin brightening properties. To use it in meals, add to rice, curries and stews. You could also try ‘golden milk’, which is turmeric blended with almond milk.

To get optimal use out of your spices, be sure to purchase and store whole spices carefully so that you can retain the full flavour and nutrients of each spice.

How to Make Homemade Seasoning with Whole Spices

Great as a gift or to use in your own kitchen, making homemade seasoning with whole spices is a great way to add more variety to a wide range of dishes. If you enjoy using spices in sweet and savoury food, you may have your favourites that you use on a regular basis.

Many home chefs like to experiment with flavours by adding a hint of that and a pinch of this, resulting in aromatic combinations that taste as good as they smell. Making a batch of custom seasoning using your preferred combinations will allow you to save time and effort, while still getting the full benefit of rich flavours.

What seasonings can be made with whole spices, and how do you make these delicious blends?

How to Make Homemade Seasoning with Whole Spices

Making Flavoured Oils, Rubs & Seasonings with Whole Spices

There are many different ways to use freshly ground spice as seasoning. Flavoured oils, rubs and salts are the easier to make and the most versatile in the kitchen however, so those are the ones we will focus on today. Check out the instructions below to find out how to make each of these seasonings with the help of a good spice grinder, quality spices and some fresh herbs. For best results, we recommend buying your spices whole rather than already ground – this will provide far more flavour.

  • Flavoured Oils. Olive oil is always a good choice (and a healthy choice, too), but you could try some other oils such as avocado oil, apricot kernel oil and even grapeseed cooking oil. Avocado oil has a nutty flavour that is great for salads and fine for cooking, while the latter two can be used for cooking or salad. Grind your spices, chop up your preferred herbs, garlic, lemon or whatever else you wish to add, then funnel into a glass bottle or a jar and cover with your chosen oil. It is best to leave the bottle or jar in a dark, cool place – the longer you let the spices and herbs sit in the oil, the more flavour will be infused. Be sure to write down which combination you have used in each bottle so that you remember it in a few weeks! These oils are good for roasting, cooking, salads and pasta, and make a perfect gift, too.
  •  Flavoured Rubs. Rubs are used on meat, chicken and fish, or even vegetables, to provide a coating of flavour that is rubbed in before roasting or putting on the braai. Typically, a rub may include salt (which helps to tenderise meat), as well as a range of herbs and spices. You can make these to taste by using your favourite freshly ground spices, herbs such as rosemary and basil, coarse black pepper, chopped garlic and good salt such as sea salt flakes or pink Himalayan salt. To ensure that your spices stay fresh and flavoursome, rubs should be made in smaller batches and stored in airtight jars or containers.
  •  Flavoured Salts & Sugars. Similar to rubs but used to sprinkle over food rather than rub into food, flavoured salts and sugars are easy, tasty and versatile. For savoury food, prepare your spices so that they are in small, easy to grind pieces rather than already ground. Chop dried herbs into small pieces too, and then mix with coarse salt and pour into a grinder. This will allow you to grind everything together over food, to release more flavour. Some good combinations include ginger salt, rosemary salt, garlic flake peri-peri salt and Italian herb salt with basil, oregano and sage. For flavoured sugars, freshly ground cinnamon, all-spice, ginger, mixed spice and nutmeg are always a good bet. Make a set of sweet spice mixes to give to friends or family in grinders or pretty jars, or mix things up with your favourite blends to add more taste and aromatic delight to your baking efforts. These sugars are also great in tea and hot beverages, or sprinkled over cookies, ice-cream and other desserts.

One of the best things about making your own seasoning is that you can be sure exactly what ingredients are included. All too often, store-made seasonings are loaded with preservatives, additives and other nasty chemicals that make them far from healthy. Homemade seasonings on the other hand contain only the good stuff – whole spices and herbs that are safe, healthy and always tasty.

Top Tips for Buying Storing and Using Whole Spices

There is much that can be said about the complexity, flavour, wholesomeness and aroma given to meals when whole spices are used. From spicy Indian cuisine to Mexican, Italian, Thai and many other types of food styles, herbs and spices have been used to prepare tasty food since the dawn of time.

Spices and herbs also offer a number of health benefits that give them even more value in cooking. And, for those trying to live a healthier life, adding some freshly ground spices is a simple (and delicious) way to reduce the need for added salt and sugar.

Buying Whole Spices

The secret to getting the most from the spices you use in food however lies firmly in how spices are sourced, as well as how they are stored and used.

How to Buy Whole Spices

Buying pre-ground spice from the supermarket may seem like the easiest way to get your dose of spicy goodness. But sadly, there are no guarantees of freshness or quality when it comes to mass produced spices that often sit on the shelves for long periods. Even whole spices may not be fresh.

With that in mind, some of the things to keep in mind to ensure that you buy the best possible spices (without breaking the bank) include the following:

  • Take the time to visit local spice shops, markets and other outlets that specialise in spice. Shops that focus on sourcing quality spices from around the world have a far better understanding of variety, shelf-life and usage. You will often have a much greater variety to choose from, with ground and whole options on offer in various quantities. It’s often cheaper to buy your spice this way, too.
  • Buy smaller amounts rather than bulk. As spice can easily go stale (even when whole!), buying more than you need is a waste of money and spice. Rather choose smaller amounts and get more when those are running low. This way, you can experiment more easily without wasting or ending up with stale product that ruins your food.
  • Grow your own herbs whenever possible. Or, source your herbs from anyone you know who grows their own. Herbs are easy to grow, even in a small kitchen. Once your plant has a decent yield, you can cut and hand bundles of herbs upside down and dry them, filling jars with the dried leaves and grinding small portions as needed.

Storing and Using Your Whole Spices

Once you have a good selection, you will want to make sure that you store and use your spice properly. Inside each individual plant, seed or leaf are volatile oils that start to vanish as the spice molecules break down. When this happens, they lose their flavour and complexity, becoming less aromatic and tasty. This happens to whole and ground spice at some stage – even if whole spices have a longer shelf life.

Light, heat and air can all hasten the evaporation of these precious oils. This means that you should never keep spice near your stove. Transparent containers should be kept in a drawer or somewhere away from the light. Do not be tempted to keep them in the fridge either, as they do not need to be kept cold – the light from the fridge could also ruin them.

A good way to store them is in tins that are labelled and then kept somewhere that is within easy reach and sight. Forgetting about spices that are not often used is a sure-fire way to end up with stale spice, so having easy access to your selection will ensure that they are not forgotten about. You may even consider labelling your containers with the date of purchase to ensure that they do not go past their ‘best by’ date.

Last but not least, one of the best things that you can do is invest in some type of spice grinder. These tools help to release all the goodness and flavour easily, allowing you to enjoy your carefully chosen spices to the max. With a little thought and effort, you can get the most from your whole spices and ramp up your cooking in the process, too.