With the coming of fall, cooks who avoided their kitchens during the hot summer will soon be reveling in their now-welcome coziness. Spices and herbs are essential for adding pizzazz to autumn dishes, and with a little know-how, you can make your own. It’s much more economical than buying ready-made seasonings, and it also allows you to control the quantity you preserve. Here are a few suggestions we’ve gotten from customers over the years:
NUTMEG and CINNAMON: Buy whole nutmeg and keep it in a tightly sealed jar. When needed, grind off a bit with a hand grinder or a fine grater. It tastes much fresher. This also works great with cinnamon sticks.
GARLIC SALT: To make garlic salt, peel garlic cloves and mince them finely, then put them in a food dehydrator set at 115Â°F. Or, spread them on a plate with screen over it and leave in the sun for a few days or until the garlic is completely dried. Grind dried garlic with coarse salt to taste using a mortar and pestle.
DRY THEM: Grow or buy herbs such as marjoram, sage, basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, mint, dill, chives and rosemary, and dry the leaves in a food dehydrator on a low setting. Or, just hang bundles of leaves in a warm, dry place (attics work well). Use a mortar and pestle to grind the dried leaves into powder.
PAPRIKA: Make your own paprika by buying paprika peppers, drying them and grinding them into a fine powder in the same manner.
CHILI POWDER: Chili powder is simply dried, powdered chilies, with some garlic powder and salt added. It’s easy to make and you can control the level of spiciness, too.
CORIANDER and CILANTRO: A helpful hint for herb growers: Coriander comes from the cilantro plant. Cilantro is the fresh herb; let it go to seed and you have coriander, which can be ground and added to meat and vegetable dishes.
STORAGE: Always store homemade spices and herbs in air-tight containers in a cool, dry place.
This article originally appeared in Country Life on September 19, 2011. –Editor