4 March 2013, by gj
Seasonings are so expensive to buy and often have ingredients added to them you wouldn’t want to consume.
They are probably rather old by the time they get to you, too.
Most gardeners know how easy it is to grow and dry or freeze a few herbs. You may be surprised to find there is a lot more you can do to make that spice shelf in your kitchen more closely connected to the garden.
Some easy herbs to grow include: Basil, Borage, Catnip aka Catmint, Chamomile flowers, Cilantro, Dill, Lavender flowers, Marjoram/Oregano, Mint, Parsley, Sage, Savory, Shiso and Tarragon.
There are also a few herbs to let bolt so you can collect the seeds for seasoning your food: Anise, Caraway, Coriander (Cilantro seeds), Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Mustard and even Sesame.
This is where it gets even more interesting.
Did you know you can grow celery, onions, garlic and ginger, dry them, then grind into a powder?
This is how ground mustard is made, by simply grinding the seeds you collected.
Chipolte peppers are chile peppers you can grow yourself, then roast to dry and grind; for a fraction of the cost.
You can also make your own pepper mix by growing an assortment of peppers, hanging to dry then grinding into a powder.
Compare that to the list of ingredients on McCormick’s Fiery 5 Pepper seasoning, which also includes salt, some additional spices and ‘natural flavors’.
Do you know what ‘natural flavors’ means?
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
Taken from Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
A bug is natural, so is a fish head. Not to be gross, but do you really want to leave it up to food companies to decide what ‘natural’ additive they will use? At the very least you can be sure it is something they could not otherwise sell.
If your homegrown spices are subjected to a lot of humidity, you may want to pick up a few food grade desiccant packets. We learned that one the hard way.
So go ahead and take a good look at your spice shelf.
In many cases, You Can Grow That!
You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage and help others learn to grow.
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