Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival Spices – What to Store and How to Use

Survival Spices – What to Store and How to Use

By Jalapeno Gal77 -via APN

spicesWith all the blubber about what to pack in your BOB, or what to store in your food storage pantry, have you ever thought about what spices would be smart to have?  Should we store spices that have a lot of smell or should we store spices that don’t have any smells to them such as salt and pepper?  My answer….BOTH!

When people think of spices, they don’t often wonder if spices go bad or lose their flavor. The answer is, yes, they do.  Spices that have been in the pantry for 5 years won’t make you sick, but will just lose their zest.  The best way to store spices is in air tight containers, preferably a dark container and in cool spaces away from moisture such as a stove or sink.  Even in doing this, most of your ground spices only last about 2 years. (Whole spices about 3-4 years)  To tell if your spices are still good, simply pour a little in your hand and examine it!  Is the color as it should be?  Pinch a little of it in your fingers. Is the aroma strong? Then taste a bit of it.  Is the flavor strong or weak?  If the color, flavor, and smell are weak then it is time to use them, or toss them.

Tip: When adding spices to a dish, avoid sprinkling it from the bottle it came in. This will cause moisture from the steam to seep into you spice container shortening its life, taking away from the flavor and it might even cause your spice to cake around the top.

Some smelly spices off the top of my head are curry, Indian spice, chili peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, ginger, and the list goes on from there.  So naturally, if you don’t want to be detected then you wouldn’t cook with these!!  However, each of these spices is wonderful to have in storage for their flavor value as well as their medicinal values.  (Especially the cayenne, curry and garlic) If you don’t want anyone to smell what you’re cooking then stick with salt and black pepper.

Some of the most obvious spices to add to your long term food storage would be salt/season salt, (tons of salt because it can be used for multiple things) black pepper, (preferably not ground as the peppercorns tend to last longer in storage) garlic, onion powder/flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and a few herbs like oregano or parsley.  I don’t recall ever having made a meal where I added these and the dish turned out bad.  I had some extremely spicy chili once, but I’m not complaining. :)

Some of these can be bulky to add to a BOB.  Well, I have a solution. We have our own house seasoning that we mix up that is great for at home or storage.  After I make up a batch of this, I will use an old empty spice bottle, usually one of the smaller ones that hold nutmeg or curry powder, (washing it out well of course) and pour some into it.  These dont take up a lot of space in the BOB, and aren’t heavy at all.  Below is the recipe I picked up from somewhere, please feel free to try it.  I love it because it eliminates me having to pour from 3 containers while I am cooking.

House Seasoning:
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
That is it!!  It’s easy to make and easy to use for everyone in the home.  If you want to add a little kick to it, use 1/2 cup salt and a 1/2 cup Cajun seasoning verses 1 cup salt. Mmmm mmm mmmm, yuummy!!

I am a HUGE fan of McCormick Spices (The line with the black lids), and if you haven’t tried them yet please do so!  I stock up on their Roasted Garlic and Herb, (6 pack) their Chicken Seasoning, (2 pack) and their steak seasonings.  They also have fabulous meat rubs  (6 pack), for grilling and packages for things like slow cookers and baked dishes.  All great for food storage!  A lot of what we store, we buy at Sam’s or at Emergency Essentials. They have the number ten cans of spices for food storage at VERY reasonable prices.

Don’t forget those free spices either.  Any time you get fast food you can ask for extra salt and pepper packets and start a box up of these.  They are light weight and great for the BOB.

There are many other spices you can add to your pantry to.  The choice is really yours because only you know what you cook with and what your family likes.  For those of you who can’t have salt, Mrs. Dash carries a wonderful line of salt free spices and herbs.  While oregano oil isn’t technically a spice, it is great on other things like foot fungus on contact and when made into a gel will cure stomach flu’s. Some not so common ones would be, curry, beef/chicken bouillon, fish seasonings or batter, (Don’t forget oil to fry it in) Rosemary is great on all meats, shake and bake, Tarragon, coriander, fennel, the list can go on and on.

The most important thing to remember about storing your spices is that powdered spices go bad way faster than whole spices.  Whole spices can actually be grown so storing the seeds is a great idea to.  Another thought about the packed seasonings that you buy in the store is that they often contain a lot of salt, so if water is low, it might not be a great idea to use those spices verses fresh.

Fun Fact: On a different note, a little bit of history.  Should we go into a depression or a TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it) so to speak, spices will be worth as much as gold in the barter system.  (Especially salt) The new world was actually discovered by Christopher Columbus because he was looking for a faster trade route to the Indian spice market. The Roman Soldiers, at times, were actually paid in salt because back then salt could be traded for anything so it was often considered currency.  That is where the term salary comes from and why they were often referred to as “worth their weight in salt.”

That’s all I have on Survival Spices at this time folks, so please feel free to add any ideas or comments you have on the subject to.  I LOVE feedback and discussions on any subject I write about!  Below is one of my favorite recipes for salmon, if you’re interested!

Keepin it Spicy,
Jalapeño Gal!

Grilled Firey 5 Pepper Salmon (by McCormick)

A quick and easy recipe for summertime grilling – perfect for a weekday dinner when time is short.  Great on salmon as well as shrimp kabobs.

Makes 4 servings.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
1 pound salmon fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon McCormick® Grill Mates® Fiery 5 Pepper Seasoning (link for 12 pk)
1. Brush salmon with oil. Sprinkle with Seasoning.
2. Grill over medium-high heat 6 to 7 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Test Kitchen Tip: For some sweet heat, add 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar to Seasoning. Continue as directed.

Grilled Fiery 5 Pepper Shrimp Kabobs: Toss 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, with oil and Seasoning. Thread onto skewers. Grill shrimp kabobs over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, turning frequently.

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