Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Spice Grinder of Doom

I'm whipping up a batch of spaghetti, because that is what we single people do...make large pots of food and eat it for days! So, I grab my nifty little McCormick Italian Herb Grinder that I got at Publix for 1.99 and proceed to grind some Italian herbs into the sauce. I am talking on the phone while I do this, because hey--I am woman, I can multi-task! Plus, I've made spaghetti sauce a bazillion times...can do it blindfolded, which is probably what I should have tried.

I set the grinder on the counter beside the stove and put salt in the pasta water. I pick up the grinder again to give it another shot and realize that not only did I not grab the Italian Herb grinder, I grabbed the Cinnamon Sugar grinder! (Yeah, they were "Buy 1, Get 1," and I thought it would be cool to have a little grinder of sugar and cinnamon for guests to use on baked sweet potatoes. This is what I get for "thinking.")

In my own defense, the damn things look exactly alike. See for yourself:

Well, they sure look like they are related! Half siblings or the Patty Duke look-alike cousins, at the very least.

Anyway, I just threw in some salt and added a lot of black pepper, and it turned out okay. I've made a tomato sauce with a little cinnamon in it before, and I've certainly added a little sugar to cut the acidity of tomato sauce, too. It's the little things like this that just drag you back to Earth sometimes.

While at the McCormick site looking for pictures, I poked around a bit and checked out their Spices 101 link and found a section about telling the age of your McCormick spices. They have a little calculator for you to enter a code and pick a city. Right up front, they tell you 1) if it's from Baltimore, it's 15 years old; and 2) if it's in a tin, it's at least 15 years old, too. (Except for black pepper--that still comes in a tin instead of a jar...or a damned grinder.)

They have a great little timeline at the bottom of the Keeping it Fresh page that follows the evolution of the McCormick spice package and tells you that some of the things in mom's spice cabinet really are older than you!

I know you should rotate your spices for freshness, and I read somewhere once, that you should replace them all every year...which seems sort of wasteful to me. According to the McCormick folks, we can keep our ground spices for 2-3 years, our whole spices for 3-4 years, but the herbs and spice blends have a shorter shelf life, which makes me feel better. And, pure vanilla extract never goes bad. Ever. There's probably some in King Tut's tomb that's still good.

I did glean this little tidbit, of which I was not aware: "Members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, will retain their color and remain fresher longer when stored in the refrigerator." (Of course, I store all my spices in the cabinet next to the's not over the stove, which is definitely frowned upon, but probably too close for the McCormick comfort. But honestly, do I really want to run across the room to the pantry to get spices? Yes, am is everyone else. Besides, if we weren't storing our spices near the stove where they would go off sooner, then McCormick would lose money. So, I'm stimulating the economy by breaking the spice rules!)

Kind of like these Spices broke some rules, no?

(You know I had to go there...this post was screaming to go a Zigazig ah! kinda way.)

1 comment:

LinC said...

The info from the McCormick web site was really interesting. I have a couple of those cans! I kept them because I thought they were more sensible than the round bottles -- they stacked better. But did I ever put new spices into them? Of course not!

Now I write the Month/Year when I buy spices onto the front label. I'll still use old spices, but at least I know how old they are. If they are old, I just add more. Seems to work.