Meet the Spices

Get to know the many readily available spices that render depths of flavors and tickle the taste buds with enticing aromas.

July 20, 2009 | by Divine Enya Mesina
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While some cuisines such as Indian, Moroccan, and Mediterranean are distinctly characterized by the strong use of curry, cloves, and nutmeg, the use of spices is universal. Here in the Philippines, more and more cooks are experimenting with these readily available spices. 

(Check the gallery below for the spices and their recipes.)

Storing Spices

Proper storage makes a huge difference in giving your spices longer shelf life. Here are some things to remember:

 •  Direct sunlight and heat can cause spices to lose flavor and aroma. So keep your spice containers away from the stove or the kitchen window. Always store them in a cool, dry, and dark place.

 •  When adding spices to your cooking, sprinkle a little in your hand or on the cooking spoon before putting it in the pot or pan. The steam from the pan may cause the spices to get moisture.

 •  If you shop at wholesale grocery stores and buy spices in bulk containers, transfer a small amount in smaller containers for everyday use. This way, you won't have to open the big container often and let the good aroma out.

 •  The color and smell of spices are good indicators of its quality. Weak scent and discoloration are sure signs the spice 

 •  While spices generally last a long time, it shouldn’t sit in your cupboard or pantry forever. Check and keep track of the expiration date. Do it like chef Carina Guevara—take a permanent marker and write the purchase date on the bottom of the container. Some spices, like cloves and whole black peppercorns, have a shelf life of two to three years!

How to Grind Whole Spices
 •  You may use your coffee grinder to grind spices.

 •  To clean it, get a piece of regular white bread and run in the grinder for a few seconds. This will not only make the spices stick to the breadcrumbs, it will also take away some of the smell of the spices.

 •  No electric grinder? Good ol' mortar and pestle will also do the job.

RELATED article: Your Chinese Pantry

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Photography by Miguel Nancianceno | Art direction by Jonathan Roxas


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