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Dry spices

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I bought a huge stack of spices(I think they are called dry, as they are dried out and come in containers).
Most of these spices taste like dirt. The parsley smells nothing like the fresh one. The dill and the coriander have the same disgusting smell.
I don't know about the other spices because I never smelled them fresh, but they are: Tumeric, Cumin, Caraway seeds, Oregano, Bay leaves and Black pepper.

I'm also not sure if the taste is as ugly as the smell since it is difficult to analyze it in the dish.
Not being a real conosciour, I usually fail to recognize the differnce between many products, but these spices barely even remind me of the fresh versions.

How is that?
post #2 of 10
You have purchased both herbs and spices though in some places the terms are used interchangeably.

"Herbs are obtained from the leaves of herbaceous (non-woody) plants. They are used for savory purposes in cooking and some have medicinal value. Herbs often are used in larger amounts than spices. Herbs originated from temperate climates such as Italy, France, and England. Herb also is a word used to define any herbaceous plant that dies down at the end of the growing season and may not refer to its culinary value at all.

Spices are obtained from roots, flowers, fruits, seeds or bark. Spices are native to warm tropical climates and can be woody or herbaceous plants. Spices often are more potent and stronger flavored than herbs; as a result they typically are used in smaller amounts. Some spices are used not only to add taste, but also as a preservative."
Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University

Your herbs are the:
bay leaves

Your spices are the:
caraway seed
black pepper

The eating experience is as much aroma as it is flavor which are exuded by both herbs, and even more so by spices.

Herbs will not be as fragrant when dried as when they are fresh although there are a few exceptions such as rosemary and thyme. Most will agree that herbs like parsley and basil are not worth drying because the dehydrated product is mild to the point of being indetectable.

Both herbs and spices contain oils that do not evaporate upon dehydration. These oils can be brought out by the heat applied during cooking just as many nuts are toasted before incorporating them into a dish in order to release their oils.

I am curious as to why you purchased them. Did you have specific dishes in mind or things that you wanted to try with these ingredients?
post #3 of 10
You bought these from where? (Not to mention,why?)
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for the explanation, I like to have this new knowledge.
I bought them to try to put them in many dishes. I don't beleive in ethnic spices or spices that are good only for some particular food.
Maybe I am wrong, but I just don't see how particular matches are are necessary.

So I bought them in the supermarket for experimenting.
Next time I will buy only fresh herbs if that's the case. Also the smell of the parsley which is especially intolerable is not mild at all, it is just offensive. The expiration date however is ok, so I don't know what's the problem.
post #5 of 10
Experimenting is fine, but keep in mind that "ethnic" spices found their way into dishes because they were indigenous to that land and before world trade was common, they had to use what they could find. Therefore many famous and traditional dishes are a result of previous humans experimenting themselves and dishes that became popular are those combinations of ingredients which they found to be most palatable.

You certainly aren't required to like the smell of dried parsely. Also know that there are several varieties of parsley and even the same varieties grown in different locations can result in differences.

If you like fresh herbs, consider growing them yourself so you'll always have a ready supply on hand.
post #6 of 10
Eugene, supermarket herbs and spices are of unknown age by the time people actually buy them. And, as Mudbug pointed out, they may smell nothing like what they taste like. Try putting a bit of each of them in small amounts of water or chicken broth and tasting them.

I'll bet you shelled out a lot of money for your supermarket spices, too. Might I suggest you try mail-ordering spices from Penzey's? You can purchase very small amounts, and most of the spices and herbs you listed would run less than $2.50 for a small bottle. And, they would be immeasureably fresher!

Take a look at http://www.penzeys.com/ and see for yourself. For example, a small jar of cumin would run you $1.99 and it's only 1.1 ounces. If you didn't like it you wouldn't be out much money.

As it happens I was just at Penzey's Brookfield WI store today. I got six of the second smallest jars of herbs, an ounce of rubbed sage (to refill my jar) and a gift box to make a gift from four of the bottles. The gift box includes bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmegs to pack around the bottles. The whole purchase was $15.00 and change.
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post #7 of 10
Or go to your local ethnic grocer, you can buy huge bags of whole dried spices you can toast and grind yourself for little money.

Many traditional European dried herbs aren't worth your time anyways in terms of flavour.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #8 of 10
Fresh herbs are very good but don't give up on dried altogether; they do have their place in the kitchen. In soups and stews for one thing.

post #9 of 10
Whole Foods markets have a vast variety of dried, bulk herbs and spices. You can take a baggie and spoon out a very small amount to try out, for a very small price.

You should contact Penzey's - either locally or on the Internet - and get on their mailing list. Their catalogs, issued three or four times a year, have recipes and facts about herbs and spices which are interesting in themselves. In fact, I can't think of a better way to get to know about herbs and spices than their catalogs.

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #10 of 10
I recommend catching this episode of Good Eats the next time it comes around:


Alton Brown is a big advocate of keeping spices in their whole form for as long as possible and then grinding before use.
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