A well-stocked spice cabinet comes in handy when trying new recipes and making creative dishes with your CSA Share. It takes a little time to build up an inventory, so don’t feel like you have to run out and buy every spice on this list right away. Buy one or two new spices at a time and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll accumulate a nice variety. Check your local natural food store for a bulk spice section, this comes in handy when re-filling jars or if you only need a small amount of something. Store spices in air tight containers away from heat and light. Check jars after 6 months for freshness, most spices should be replaced after 6-12 months for best flavor. Some people prefer to buy whole spices and grind them themselvesfor the freshest flavor. Use this guide to help you experiment in the kitchen. Remember when using spices – a little bit goes a long way! Start with small amounts, you can always add more until the flavor is right. Unlike herbs, spices are often added at the beginning of cooking to make the most of their flavor. Less is sometimes more, try using one, two, or three spices at most in a dish. You can also try spice blends, like garam masala, curry powder, or chili powder for great results. Did we miss your favorite spice? Let us know in the comments!
Allspice is dried, ground berries from an evergreen tree. Allspice can be purchased as whole berries or ground. Commonly used in baking, allspice is also good in savory dishes like grain salads and polenta. Allspice pairs well with beets, carrots, parsnips, and winter squash. Try it in our Parsnip Cake with Maple Glaze!
Celery seed is commonly used in pickling and pickling spice, like in our Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles. Celery Seed is actually quite versatile and can also be used in spreads and salad dressings. Pairs well with potato (adds great flavor to potato salad) and tomato (often found in bloody marys!).
Very common in baking, cinnamon is actually the ground bark of a tropical laurel tree. Cinnamon can be purchased ground or in sticks. Cinnamon sticks are often added whole to mulled wine or cider, and other liquids then removed before serving. Cinnamon lends itself to sweet and savory flavors, try adding a pinch to chilies and braised dishes as well as baked goods. Pairs well with beets, carrots, and winter squash.
Cayenne is a great spice to keep on hand for anyone who loves a little heat. We grow cayenne peppers on our farm, check out our guide to “Spice in the CSA” for a picture. Cayenne is easy to make from fresh peppers, simply remove stems and seeds, dry peppers in the oven, and grind. Save your peppers from the CSA share and try a batch! Add a pinch of cayenne to marinades, soup, stew, spice rubs, and chili. Pairs well with kale, collards, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and celery.
Clove is another spice that is used in baking and savory dishes. Cloves are available whole and ground, and should be removed before serving when using whole. Whole cloves are pressed into meats like ham while cooking, and added to mulled cider and wine. Ground cloves are added to baked to dishes, and Indian and Mexican cooking. Pairs well with winter squash and onion.
Coriander is made from the seeds of the cilantro plant, but tastes completely different. Available whole or ground, coriander is often paired with other spices like cumin and cardamom, and added to spice blends. Coriander is an excellent compliment to cayenne and spicy dishes. Often used in Mexican and Indian cuisine, and added to beans. Pair coriander with tomatoes, parsley, beets, cabbage, celeriac, parsnip, and carrots.
Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed red pepper is also very easy to make and can be made with some of the peppers we grow on the farm! Remove stems, dry in the oven, and pulse in a food processor. For crushed red pepper, leave the seeds in. Crushed red pepper is a simple spice that is versatile in the kitchen, add just a pinch to dishes early in cooking to add a bit of spice and a lot of dimension. Great in pizza and pasta dishes, as well as Chinese, Cajun, and Mexican cuisine. Pairs well with greens, onions, peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, potato, parsnip, and carrot.
Cumin is available ground or in seeds that looks similar to caraway seeds. Cumin and coriander compliment each other well, and recipes often call for them together in dishes like chili, black beans, and spice blends. Toasted cumin seeds are a flavorful addition to many dishes, dry toast in a skillet for the best flavor. Pair with tomato, parsnip, zucchini, cabbage, cucumber, fennel, and onion.
Ginger is used raw and ground. The taste is very different, and fresh is often preferred but ground ginger is excellent in baking and added to curries, chilies, and stews. Ground ginger is often added to baked goods like our Carrot Cake Pancakes. Ginger pairs well with carrots, beets, winter squash, greens, bok choy, fennel, and peppers.
Nutmeg is available whole and ground, nutmeg stores extremely well and most recipes call for small amounts so try keeping whole nutmeg on hand for grating into baked goods and creamy sauces. Add a pinch to gratins, cheese sauce, and meat dishes as well as baked goods. Pairs well with squash, beets, carrots, potatoes, celeriac, spinach, and swiss chard.
Paprika is available in a few varieties including sweet (often Hungarian) and smoked paprika. The sweet version is a mild dried chili that adds flavor, but not heat to soups, stews, sauces, rice and potato dishes. Smoked paprika has an entirely different flavor that can really add dimension to some of your favorite dishes like stew, creamy sauces, marinades, and spice rubs. Both versions pair well with potato, tomato, zucchini, peppers, onions, greens, and carrots.
Turmeric is a rhizome that looks similar to ginger, but with a bright orange interior. Purchase ground turmeric for use in curry, dal, and grain dishes like rice, couscous, and barley. Often paired with cumin, coriander, and spicy dishes. Turmeric is best used in small amounts, and pairs well with peppers, onion, broccoli, and greens.