A quick note on spices
June 7, 2010
I had planned to make a magnetic spice rack for the kitchen (an idea that came courtesy of Mattie, and was elaborated upon by my friend Jack, who showed me this). But then I found this old thing, mold-wracked and hidden in the back of a drawer, and I felt at once a wave of both joy and sadness, because I knew I had found the right sort of spice rack for my uses, but that meant I didn’t get to make one.
It’s got ten bottles in it. I realized (and I’m rationalizing here) that the problem with a wall-mounted spice rack is that you don’t actually use all of those spices on a regular basis. Some spices (like cardamom and cloves, as in the picture in that Kitchn post) just don’t get used that often (and unless it’s an Indian kitchen, I don’t think cardamom and clove get much mileage). I mean, think about it – you probably only use four or five herbs and spices in your core cuisine set. Look at how I’m stretching it here – I put lemongrass powder in there! I NEVER use lemongrass powder. It’s there only because I had enough of it to fill the bottle.
Here’s what’s in my spice rack right now, in order of my approximate priority of usage:
- Kosher salt
- Italian seasoning (rosemary, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano)
- Garlic powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Pepper flakes
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
- Lemongrass powder
- is empty. I’ll probably grind up some black pepper and put it in there, bumping it up to 2.
And let’s be honest. How often do I use curry powder? Not so terribly often. #6 is where my usage almost completely peters out. I use a lot of spices, but only a smallish number are in truly heavy rotation. Most of the other flavors come from aromatics and backbencher herbs and spices like cinnamon, fennel, coriander, and whatnot. Or I use fresh herbs, like cilantro or mint.
I’ll make this easy on you – I don’t ask what your top 10 spices are. What are your top 5?