Cass McCarthy is our go to for home grown, zero waste cooking and she has recently shared two DIY spice blends with us that you'll love.
Spices are one of those things that we can easily get in the habit of buying in plastic. But there are other options! Either buying in bulk or making your own is a great alternative. Saving the planet, your wallet and making meals times that much more delicious!
Mastering the art of blending and cooking with different spices is a skill that takes time. The only requirement is a willingness to get creative and experiment in the kitchen. Whether you’re an amateur cook or experienced chef, having a well stocked spice rack is essential for cooking delicious and flavourful dishes. Of course you can opt for the convenience of store-bought spice blends, however they pale in comparison to making them from scratch at home.
Below are two different recipes for homemade spice blends! The first method is the easiest of the two; a Mexican spice blend that uses ground spices and can be used to replace taco seasoning or turned into a delicious marinade.
The other is garam marsala, a strongly perfumed mixture that uses whole spices and is often added towards the end of cooking dishes. Marsala blends usually differ slightly from household to household, so don’t be afraid to adapt it to suit your taste.
Why you should make your own spice blends:
- You are in control of what spices you use and how spicy you make it. You can tweak the spice blends and tailor them to perfectly suit your palate.
- Store-bought spice blends often contain many additives, including ingredients such as various flour, anti-caking agents, preservatives and artificial flavour enhancers.
- At home you are able to make the exact amount that you need, meaning no more random half used jars of spices going rancid in your pantry.
- Whole (unground) spices have the longest shelf life, as less of their surface area is exposed to air, light, and moisture. This allows them to retain their aromatic oils and flavor compounds longer than their ground counterparts. This means that not only will your homemade spice blends taste far superior, they will also have a longer shelf life.
- It is incredibly satisfying and will definitely boost your confidence and cooking credentials.
What you’ll need:
Spices. You can find bulk spices in many supermarkets and wholefood stores these days. The beauty is that you can buy anything from a single star anise to 1 kilo or more, which means less chance of waste and no packaging to dispose of.
Spice Jars. Glass jars with tight fitting lids are essential for keeping spices fresh during storage. Use a marker to label each jar with the name of the spice blend and the date that you made it. Freshly ground spices should be used well within 3 months for ultimate freshness.
Coffee grinder (optional). If you choose to use whole spices you can definitely do it the old fashioned way with a mortar and pestle, but I’m not sure how long your new found love of making DIY spice blends will last. I also find that I can never get the spices ground fine enough. Coffee grinders and spice grinders are basically the same thing. Just be sure to wipe it clean before each use to remove any residue and prevent cross contamination of flavours.
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- ½ tbsp fine sea salt
- Optional: 1-2 tbsp chilli powder depending on how spicy you like it
- Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the pantry. Use within 3 months.
- Use 3- 4 Tbsp of the spice blend as a substitute for taco seasoning (suitable for roughly 500g of protein or vegetables). Alternatively, combine 4 Tbsp of the spice mix with the juice of 1 orange and ⅓ cup olive oil and use it as a marinade for slow cooking.
Notes: This all natural spice mix will most likely solidify overtime as there are no anti-caking agents added. If this happens, simply blitz it in a small blender or spice/coffee grinder before using.
- 125g coriander seeds
- 60g cumin seeds
- 60g peppercorns
- 30g cinnamon
- 30g whole cloves
- 60g cardamom pods
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant.
- Peel the cardamom pods.
- Grind all of the spices together using a coffee or spice grinder and store in an airtight jar. Garam marsala can be used to flavour soups, stews, lentil-based dishes such as dahl and also as a dry rub/marinade.