This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 8… Spices!


Welcome to my store cupboard basics which means it is Friday once again and Spices are something I use every day in one form or another…I am also always on the lookout for new spices…I just adore what a touch of spice does to food…

If you have been following your store cupboards BASICS by now yours should be nearly fully stocked…

The smell of spices always draws me wherever I am and sometimes it is so strong that it makes me cough and my eyes water…but I love it…It is also one way for me to get my kitchen cleared quickly …haha…

Spices are many and varied, they need to be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. As flavours diminish with age then buy in small quantities the only spices I buy in large quantities are those I know I will use quickly…

To make your own mixes is quick and easy and ensures your spices are always fresh…As I go through the spices, I use I will link to recipes where I make my own mixes which are far superior as they contain no preservatives and work out far cheaper than costly spice mixes …

Allspice…This berry has a warm, slightly cinnamon-clove flavour readily available ground and can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking.

Cayenne Pepper…Fiery and piquant this spice is made from dried red hot chillies used sparingly it is excellent added to cheeses dishes, fish, creamy sauces, meat sauces and soups. Added sparingly to these salmon burgers it just lifts the flavour…

Chilli Flakes… 


Crushed dried red chillies can be added or sprinkled over many dishes…so easy to make your own just dry fresh red chillies in the sun if you have any or even on a hot radiator and then just crush in a pestle and mortar and store in an airtight jar. Used in many Thai dishes like larb or homemade sausages I have linked to these as it shows how I use many of the spices I have on this post.

Chinese five-spice powder…This is a mixture of star anise, cassia, fennel seeds, cloves and anise pepper again if you have the spices easy to make in minutes. It has quite a strong powerful flavour so use sparingly.

Cinnamon…one of my most used spices it has many uses…I buy the sticks and use whole or ground although you can buy powdered cinnamon ready ground I prefer to do my own. The powder can be used in baking and making spice mixes. The sticks can be added to stews or drinks. This Thai braised Pork is a good example of where I used star anise, cinnamon and Chinese five-spice powder.

Cloves…Available whole or ground these dried flowers buds are used in sweet and savoury dishes…Baked apples, bread sauce they are one of my most used spices. If sing ground use sparingly as it is strong and too much is unpleasant to the palate.

Coriander…Available whole or ground I buy large packs as I use it often…It is the basis in my Indian spices and curries…

Cumin…Warm and pungent cumin works well with most meats particularly lamb again one of my favourite spices and one I use a lot.

Fennel Seeds…These little green seeds have quite a sweet aniseed like flavour that goes well with chicken and fish and again I use when making Indian spice mixes.

Garam Masala…Ground and roasted spices make this mixture which is used in many Asian dishes. Available ready mixed but if you have the spices so easy to make your own and the flavour is much better. My recipe where you can see my use of spices…


  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 cardamon pods green
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 piece of mace.

Let’s Cook!

Dry roast all your spices individually until warm and fragrant. Leave to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder …I have a little coffee grinder which I use to grind my spices and it works really well prior to that I used a pestle and mortar which is hard work but brilliant as an arm toner.

Store in an airtight container and use within 3 months as the spice will start to lose its potency …If you use a lot of gamma masala then just double or treble the quantities.

Ginger…This ground dried spice is useful for baking although for savoury dishes I use fresh root ginger.

Green Cardamon…

The green papery pods contain little black seeds which can be easily crushed and the seeds scraped out.

The green pods, Elettaria cardamomum, also known as “true cardamom,” have the characteristics most recognized as cardamom flavour: a herbal warmth like a fragrant cross between eucalyptus, mint, and pepper—more citrusy than fennel and sweeter than cumin.

It wasn’t until I was looking for green cardamom that I realised why it was harder to find and more expensive than its black cardamom sister…

Mustard Seeds…are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are coloured from yellowish white to black. They are an important spice in many regional foods. Grinding and mixing the seeds with water, vinegar or other liquids creates mustard. Simples said the meercat…

Nutmeg…Is available ground but to me not the same as storing a few whole nutmegs and grating it as required.

Paprika Pepper…Used in many Spanish dishes it is available both mild and hot…It has a slightly sweet flavour and is lovely used as a garnish for a seafood sauce or an egg dish.

Pepper…Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices and should always be used freshly ground as it loses its flavour quickly.

Green peppercorns have a milder flavour and can be found dried or in brine. Fresh green peppercorns are widely used in Thai cooking and one of our favourites.

White peppercorns are hotter than green but less aromatic than black peppercorns but ideal for a sauce if you don’t want the black specks but want a pure white sauce.

Pink Peppercorns seem to be more popular of late…Pink peppercorns are not only pretty, but they also offer a fruitiness along with their peppery bite for a deep, well-rounded pepper flavour. They’re delicate and should be crushed with a knife, rather than a pepper mill, to be used on seafood, poultry, salad, even popcorn, in curries, sauces, chutney, or in place of black pepper for an interesting twist. They are also more expensive.

Star Anise…Earthy, a subtly sweet spice which has a number of uses in savoury cooking, especially in traditional Asian dishes.

Turmeric...Used in many Indian dishes the ground turmeric is made from the dried turmeric root it has a peppery, slightly earthy taste and stains if you are not careful…

Vanilla…Dried vanilla pods are long and black encasing hundreds of tiny black seeds expensive but so worth it…Just make sure what you are buying as there are many inferior products on the market.


I hope you are finding these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Until next week when in my store cupboard basics it will be Dried herbs and stock cubes…

20 thoughts on “This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 8… Spices!

  1. acflory

    Love the tour of your spices. Do you use the Ceylon? cinnamon or the Cassia cinnamon? I use the Cassia as it has a much more aromatic smell, and flavour. And what kind of a Hungarian would I be without paprika? lol


  2. Pingback: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 26th -3rd July 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Glory” is my one word promp… | Retired? No one told me!

  3. tiffanyarpdaleo

    A wonderful summary! I have over 150 spices in my collection, (I work at Penzeys) but I really only use about 20 on a regular basis, all the ones you mentioned! ☺


  4. Maddie Cochere

    Wonderful post, Carol! I have an entire cupboard devoted to spices. I agree with you – making our own spice mixes without additives, and even salt, are so much healthier for us. I also have jars of “dust.” I dehydrate mushrooms then run them through my coffee grinder to make dust to add to just about anything. I put it in hamburgers tonight before grilling them. I also have jalapeno dust and celery dust. I love spices!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. beetleypete

    We have most of those in the cupboard, also herbs like dried Basil, Oregano, Mint, and Rosemary. We buy them already ground though, in small jars. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pfiddlergal

    I am a big turmeric fan. I make a paste of turmeric, fresh ground pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Stir it in to my homemade kefir and doing great things for both my gut biomes and for inflammation.

    Liked by 1 person


    Turmeric is much in fashion here for all sorts of health things. Someone told us she takes nothing else and gives it to her dogs as well. I have been using it forever since getting Delia Smith’s cookery book. We have a lovely little whole food shop that smells divine and when staff say they are going up stairs they climb up a wooden ladder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      My sister gives it to her dog and I make my hubbie a drink using fresh turmeric from my garden…Plus I use it in my cooking like you I love the smell when I walk into those shops its so wonderful I could stay forever…lol…


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