Today my shipment of spices arrived. I’m so excited and am running out tonight to get a ton of ball jars to store them in (I like them to all be in a uniform size jar for easy stacking and storing). As I started investing in my Paleo journey — emotionally, psychologically, and financially — I purchased a few Paleo cookbooks (see my Resources Page). They all make liberal use of spices to keep things interesting. As I explored the cookbooks It was easy to see that I was not prepared for living such a spicy life. I thought I had a good selection of spices in my pantry but I was wrong. Some of my spices were old and needed to be replaced and some of the spices the cookbooks called for were completely new to me.
Most spices don’t go bad but they do lose potency and flavor over time. Ground spices lose flavor faster than whole spices like nutmeg or cloves. The rule for how long to keep spices seems to vary by who you ask, but it falls somewhere between 6 months and 3 years. Most of mine were over a year old and since I was running low, trying to add to my stash, and being mindful of the age of my spices… I just decided to start from scratch.
I tried to stock up at the grocery store but found the spice aisle overwhelming (too many choices) and not easy to shop in with all the other customers constantly walking in front of me while I tried to read labels and explore the options. So I went a different route. I got online and ordered a whole range of spices from Penzey’s Spices.
Stocking up on spices as you start living a more Paleo lifestyle is a relatively inexpensive way to get started if you don’t do what I did and replace them all at once. Spices encourage you to try new flavors when cooking with “the same old meat and vegetables”. It also encourages your creative side when it comes to cooking and that is a good thing because it can reshape the way we think of food.
When you decide which spices to get, consider the age of your current spices, how much of each you have left, which you use regularly, and which show up in the paleo recipes you’ll find on the great Paleo blogs and in the Paleo cookbooks. I started by picking some of the recipes I’d want to try first and making a note of the spices they required that I didnt’ have… then I checked my current stash and made a list. In the end I chose to restock all of my spices but you don’t have to make that kind of investment just to get started with some new flavors.
Whether you hit the grocery store or buy online is up to you. But I will say that buying from Penzey’s Spices was easy, convenient, and fun because they had such a variety of spices to explore and I could do so in my jammies, not in a crowded grocery store. I particularly like that Penzey’s tells you about the spices… where they come from, why that matters, how to use them, etc. And they offer options such as buying items whole or ground and they sell in a variety of sizes and price points.
So go forth and spice up your own Paleo life. Feel free to check back and let me know what you’ve tried and how it worked out for you. I’ll do the same as I start experimenting with my new cookbooks.