by Lynn Kerrigan
Long-standing traditions usually mark the holiday season, but sometimes it's better to think "out with the old and in with the new"—especially when it comes to your spice cabinet.
The fresher the spices and seasonings, the more aromatic and flavorful your holiday meals and baked goods will be. But how do you know if your herbs and spices are fresh?
"Sight, smell and taste" says Laurie Harrsen, Manager of Consumer Affairs at McCormick/Schilling. "Check to see that the color of your spices and herbs are vibrant. If the color has faded, chances are the flavor has too. Rub or crush the spice or herb in your hand. If the aroma is weak and the flavor isn't apparent, it's time to replace them."
If your cabinets are filled with ancient spices, now is the time to toss them and head to your grocer for new ones. If you end up tossing many stale items, consider buying smaller bottles when shopping for new spices. Base your decision on frequency of use and available pantry space. Buy the best quality herbs and spices you can afford—there really is a difference. Store herbs and spices away from heat, moisture and sunlight. This means it's a mistake to place that spice rack over the stove, over or near the dishwasher or sink or near a window.
Here's how long properly stored herbs and spices should last:
|Ground Spices||-----||2-3 years|
|Whole Spices||-----||3-4 years|
|Seasoning Blends||-----||1-2 years|
1. Ground black pepper
2. Ground cinnamon
3. Seasoned salt
4. Garlic powder
5. Ground nutmeg
6. Garlic salt
7. Ground ginger
8. Poultry seasoning
9. Chili powder
10. Pumpkin pie spice
Try this recipe for Savory Orzo below—a delectably different side dish perfect for a holiday buffet or dinner party.
Makes 6 cups
4 slices bacon
1 cup sliced green onion
1/2-cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups orzo pasta, cooked and drained
1/2-cup pine nuts, toasted
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until done. Remove bacon, drain and crumble; reserve bacon drippings. Add green onion to bacon drippings and sauté 1-2 minutes or until crisp tender.
Stir in bacon, 1/4-cup Parmesan cheese and remaining ingredients. Cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Recipe courtesy McCormick/Schilling
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This page created July 1999
This page created December 1999
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This page modified February 2007
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