The best way of storing your spices to help them live long and pungent lives and a delicious spice rub for potato wedges.
Back in March before Baby G was born I had high hopes for decluttering the house. This was a formidable task – it was far too ambitious on reflection. The house didn’t get sorted but I did manage to clean the fridge (after two years, it was disgusting) and sort through my spices.
Earlier in the year my Mum sorted our larder. She took everything out, cleaned the cupboard, threw out anything that was no longer in date and then put everything back in a beautiful logical order. Before this, things were so precariously balanced that they fell on the floor the moment I opened the larder door. After Mum’s work, this was a thing of the past. The cupboard no longer stressed me out every time I opened the door. Instead it was a joy to find what I needed inside.
Our spice drawer was in a similar unworkable state. Every time I shut the drawer I would struggle. There was so much inside the containers wouldn’t lie flat so the drawer wouldn’t close. I followed Mum’s example – everything came out, I threw out anything that was out of date, or lacking a pungent smell and I cleaned the drawer and lay the spices back inside. I made sure they were in alphabetical order. The drawer now glides shut and I can easy find what I need – it’s a joy. This all took about 30 minutes in case you are feeling inspired. So why do I keep my spices in a drawer? Primarily because I find it easier to find what I’m after. But is the drawer, which is next to the oven, the best one to use? Well I’ve done some reading and wanted to share my results.
Spice storing tips
Spices should be stored –
1. In the dark
2. Away from heat – so not next to the oven (like mine were) or dishwasher
3. Away from moisture – so not in the fridge
4. In sealed containers
Light, warmth, moisture and air will all degrade their flavour faster. At the severe end, it will also encourage mould to grow.
If they have passed their best before date, or are more than six months old – get rid of them. If you are unsure whether to keep a spice open it up. If it’s ground you should be able to smell it before your nose reaches the jar. If you can’t get rid of it. If it’s a whole spice, cinnamon bark for example, it won’t smell as pungent, the flavour is release when you cook with it or grind it.
A few more tips
● Buy small quantities frequently, to ensure your spices are as pungent as they can be.
● Don’t open a spice jar directly over a saucepan of cooking food. It’s likely to just fill the jar with humidity and encourage the spices to lose their flavour.
● For similar reasons don’t use a wet spoon to measure out your spices.
● Keep them in alphabetical order so you can easily find what you are after.
If you like to have your spices on display then how about using little tins to hide them from the light.
So, it turns out I should move my spices to a drawer away from the oven. That’s my next challenge.
How about using spices, here is a great spice rub that can be used on meat before cooking it. It can also be used on potatoes to give added flavour.
Spicy potato wedges
We eat a lot of potatoes. Jackets and wedges are our favourites. There is nothing that can beat a jacket potato that has been in the oven for nearly two hours and is almost creamy inside. Sometimes though I don’t have two hours – I have 40 minutes instead and that’s when I whip up some wedges. Our wedges are potatoes cut into chip shaped chunks, drizzled with oil and salt sprinkled over them and roasted in a hot oven for 40 minutes. Any potato will do, but I like to use Maris Piper or a similar variety, sold as good for chips or roast potatoes.
My spice rub is a great addition to this standard wedges recipe.
The best spicy potato wedges
You could mix the wedges with oil and the spice rub in a bowl. I prefer to do this on the baking tray to save on the washing up. But you do have to wash your hands before you can put the tray in the oven.
This recipe also works well with sweet potato. Cut the sweet potato so they are a bit larger or reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 1150g Maris Piper potatoes
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2-3 tbsp of spice rub – recipe below
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/ Gas mark 6.
- You want to make big chunky chip shapes. Leave the skins on chop the potatoes so that they are between 2cm/¾” – 2½cm/1” wide strips.
- Place on a large baking tray, spread over two to ensure each wedge is touching the baking tray.
- Pour over the oil and scatter on the spice rub and then using your hands mix it all together so that the wedges are coated.
- Put in the oven for 40 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Serve.
Roasting or toasting whole spices first forces the flavourful oils in the spice to the surface, so when you grind them and add to food they bring their freshly realised flavour.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: About 6 tbsp of spice rub
- 2 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 4 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Cloves
- 5cm/2” piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C/350F/Gas mark 4.
- Place the seeds and bark on a baking tray and into the preheated oven for 8 – 10 minutes. You want the flavours to be released but you don’t want to burn the seeds. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Grind in a (clean!) coffee grinder, pestle and mortar or with the end of a rolling pin and bowl.
- Mix with the salt and chilli powder and store as described above until needed.