Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stocking up on spices to keep food preps lively

Both of my brothers are chefs, but I got the short end of culinary training. Some of the things I’ll mention below would be considered sacrilege in high-cuisine circles, but this thread is about spicing up your survival food preps, not making sure your spices are necessarily as fresh as you would find in restaurants.

For one thing, when I mentioned to my youngest brother that I had several dozen quarts of spices in mason jars, he chuckled and said, “You know those will go bad after six months, right?” I replied that first of all, the spices will only go “bad” if they’re left exposed to air for an extended period of time–but the seals on my mason jars are much more airtight than the containers which the spices came in at Sam’s Club. And I’d rather have “too much” spices than to not have enough and to have to deal with “food fatigue”–as I noted in another post, you can have the same basic ingredients–rice, beans, vegetables and meat–but depending on what spice combinations you use, you can create literally thousands of different dishes.

And while spices may “go bad” according to restaurant standards after six months, I’ll take “stale” spices any day over bland food. I’ve got at least 10 quarts of cayenne powder in my pantry at the moment, and I’m guessing it’d take a couple years to go through just what I’ve got at the moment, but having “too much” spices could literally mean the difference between people eating or not eating. The danger of “food fatigue” is well-established–people can have plenty of food on hand, but if they’re eating the same thing over and over and over, they may literally starve themselves rather than eat more of the same thing. Here’s an article I just came across:

I make it a point every week to buy a couple pounds of various spices at Sam’s Club and seal them up in mason jars when I get home. It’s going to be months, maybe even years before I go through some of the spices I have, but again, “too much” spices is much better than not enough. Parents, consider the danger of food fatigue if your kids refuse to eat the same thing another day. If you make it taste like something else, they’re much more inclined to eat it.

I prefer the spices that will give me the most bang for my buck taste-wise. Take a look at what you can get in bulk quantities:

I’d suggest including mint, cloves, etc., in your preps not for their addition to food per se, but to make your own tea with these. (Get 5-lb. containers of honey at Sam’s Club for less than $11 to top it off.;)) And there are many other sites besides the one above where you can buy bulk quantities of spices, or if you live in larger cities you should have plenty of retail establishments (especially ethnic grocery stores) where you can buy them or order them. I’d be interested in hearing your own stories or recipes using spices to help keep your food storage from getting boring.