Ready-made seasoning blends are everywhere. Just check out the spice aisle of your local grocery store and prepare to be amazed. But those are often times big bucks, and they're often not the exact spice mixtures you'd choose if you had the chance.
Making your own seasonings is a great way to save time and effort in the kitchen -- if you have them on-hand, you'll be ready to spice up any dish. Of course, it's a great way to save money as well. And the best reason of all? It gives you total license to play with your food.
What Spices Work Together
The first thing to consider when making seasonings is which flavors to choose. When it comes to what flavors work well with each other, there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules. When properly mixed, spices can help trigger positive memories of exotic travels or ethnic favorites, bring a piece of sub-par steak into the realm of the sublime, and well — they just make things taste good!
Luckily, almost all of this boils down to what you like, not what everyone else likes. So go ahead and experiment, it's your time to shine. Any mix of savory spices and dried herbs with a little salt is a great place to start.
You can create a Mexican taco seasoning
by combining ground chili powder, and cumin. Or try an Indian Garam Marsala spice blend
or a Cajun spice rub
with cayenne and nutmeg.
Check out this quick video to see how easy it is to mix up a batch of seasoning to your taste:
One of the best things about making your own seasonings is the amount of control you're granted. For instance, if you often find that you like a small amount of heat in a spice mix, you're free to add only a teaspoon of chili powder or ground chili flakes to your seasoning, but if you're a spice lover, you're able to make it super spicy!
And of course, there's the salt question, which is a hot-button issue. If you're worried that you're getting too much salt, you can remove the salt entirely and use a more “a la cart” method. If you find that other spices cry out for salt, add as much as you'd like.
The Long, Hard Grind
You'll also have to decide whether or not you want to grind your own spices or use pre-ground. There are some advantages to grinding your spices at home – like the freshness factor -- spices in whole form taste much better than pre-ground varieties. However, the downside is that buying whole spices can be an ordeal. If you don't have a local spice store or co-op, you can find reliable ones online if you're willing to do the legwork.
To grind your spices at home, the equipment is fairly simple. You can go old-school with a mortar and pestle, which will give you perfect control over your grind at the cost of extra (minimal) manual labor, or you can grab a cheap coffee grinder or mill and go for effortless grinding with the benefit of exact control. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, but both are worth the time to experiment to see what’s best for you.
While you might think that those glass shakers you store your salt and pepper in are good enough, trust me on this one, they're not. You're going to want air-tight containers— glass, plastic or stainless steel.
You're also going to want to keep the spices away from light, which can break down the volatile oils that give them their unique flavors.
Now that you've sorted through the options, you can get out there and start spicing things up!
Here are a few seasoning recipes to try on your own:
These Spicy Recipes
feature kicky flavor that would be perfectly enhanced with your own seasoning blends!
Comment below and let us know what seasoning blends you create!