GRINDING SPICES AT HOME FOR FRESH FLAVOR
Grinding your own spices at home is the best way to get the most flavor out of them, ensuring the most potency and highest concentration of flavor. Dry toasting spices brings out the spice’s flavor profile and intensity even more. Grinding spices at home instead of purchasing pre-ground spices can also extend their shelf life since they better retain the flavor when stored whole. Grinding your spices at home will give you more room for creativity since you can make your own customized freshly ground spice blends.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to grind spices or how to toast spices, this simple guide will teach you how to toast and grind spices by hand, with an electric spice grinder and other methods, so you can experience vibrant, fresh flavors in all of your favorite recipes.
HOW TO GRIND SPICES
You can grind your own spices using an electric spice grinder, blender, food processor or coffee grinder. There are also several manual methods for grinding spices by hand. These methods include using a mortar and pestle, rasp grater and even a rolling pin. When choosing your method, consider the materials you have on hand, the type and size of spices you’re working with, the amount of spices you need ground and your desired consistency.
Step 1: Toast Spices
Toasting spices will accentuate the flavor profile, creating a fuller depth of flavor, as well as help bring out the natural aromas of the essential oils in the spices. Toast your spices just before using to better savor the heightened concentration of flavors.
- Place first spice in a dry cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan
- Toast spices separately to avoid burning—different spices require different amounts of time to toast
- Spread spices thinly and evenly over the surface of the pan, avoiding clumps
- Heat pan over low to medium heat
- Avoid high temperatures to prevent burning
- Be sure the pan is completely dry
- Use spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir spices to avoid burning and allow for even heating
- Spices are done toasting once you can smell them or notice a slight darkening/color change
- Leave spices toasting for only a few minutes
- If you see smoking, this is a sign the spices are burning
- Remove from heat and let cool completely
- Transfer toasted spices immediately to a glass dish or bowl
- Repeat with additional spices
Step 2: Grind Spices
When grinding spices, you can use small countertop appliances like an electric grinder, blender, food processor or food chopper. Spices can also be ground manually.
If grinding manually, the most common way is with a mortar and pestle.
- Add your amount of spices to mortar, filling only 1/3 full of spices for best results
- Hold the pestle with your dominant hand and the mortar with your opposite hand
- “Pound and swirl” the spices with firm pressure as you press spices against the bottom and sides of the mortar
- Continue this pounding and crushing motion until the spices are ground to your desired texture
This method of crushing spices manually can be achieved similarly using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer mallet if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.
IF GRINDING WITH AN ELECTRIC SPICE GRINDER LIKE THE KITCHENAID® COFFEE AND SPICE GRINDER:
- Clean spice grinder and dry well
- Fill the spice grinder with desired spices being careful not to overfill past the max 2-ounce amount
- Put on the solid spice grinder lid
- Place the spice grinder bowl into the grinder base and twist clockwise into place
- Place the top cover of the grinder over the solid spice grinder lid and press down on the top cover to run the grinder
- Process for 10–30 seconds, depending on the spice and desired results
- After grinding, remove the top cover and solid spice grinder lid
- Place the shaker lid and dispense your freshly ground spices
IF GRINDING SPICES WITH A FOOD PROCESSOR, chopper OR BLENDER:
- Add desired amount of spices
- If your appliance has a “grind” setting, use this option, if not, a medium speed setting works well
- Using the appropriate setting, process the spices in increments of about 15 to 30 seconds depending on the size of spice and desired consistency
- Avoid using “pulse” settings for more efficient, uniform grinding
- Open the lid, stir the spices and check consistency
- If necessary, repeat the process until you achieve the desired results
- Keep in mind this method may take longer since it’s a larger appliance with a larger blade than a small grinder
- Place ground spices into an airtight container or use immediately
Step 3: Use or Store Your Fresh Ground Spices
Freshly ground spices are best stored immediately after grinding in an airtight glass container that is ideally opaque or dark in color to protect the spices from sunlight. Label your spices or spice blends for easy identification. Dating each container is also helpful so you know when spices are past their prime.
Keep fresh ground spices stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat like a stovetop, like the pantry or a cabinet. Spices can be stored in the freezer, but this should only be used for long-term storage and not for spices that are used on a regular basis.
When you’re ready to use your ground spices, open your container and use a dry spoon to measure out the amount you need. If you store spices in a shaker, avoid shaking the jar over a hot pan, as moisture can seep into the container and cause clumping. If stored properly, most spices will stay fresh anywhere from one to four years. Unsure of their freshness? Take some of the ground spice in the palm of your hand and rub them around or crush a bit between two fingers. You should be able to easily detect the aroma of the spice. If the smell or taste of the spice is weak, it may be time to toss the batch.
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