Falls Famous Spices!

Falls Famous Spices
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Ahhh – the smells of fall! The crisp morning air, fallen leaves, pie in the oven, a fire in the distance and an array of comfort foods greet the cooler weather and awaken our senses to the arrival of autumn. If you find yourself cooking any classic fall food, you are sure to run across one, if not multiple, of these spices in your recipe.

These are the spices of fall that never fail to warm us from the inside out year after year! Keep them on hand to add a delicious dose of seasonal bliss to practically any dish or beverage!

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a delicate flavor and is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Collected from the cinnamon tree, cinnamon can come in the form of a ground powder, sticks or oil. While we might automatically attribute our fond memories of cinnamon at Thanksgiving to pies, cookies, cakes, and desserts, cinnamon holds up its sleeve a slough of savory options as well!

This year try cinnamon with:

  • Roasted Squash
  • Add a touch to your turkey brine
  • Cinnamon Braised short ribs
  • Cinnamon Spiked Tomatoes
  • Couscous / Quinoa Salad

 

Nutmeg

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Nutmeg itself is the seed of a tropical fruit thought to have originated in New Guinea. They are light brown on the outside with dense layers of starchy tissue and fragrant oil on the inside. For the best flavor, nutmeg seeds grated with a microplane work best as powdered nutmeg quickly loses its potency. Similarly to cinnamon, nutmeg is mostly famous for its uses in baked goods. When it comes to savory meat-based dishes, nutmeg is used to subtly enhance and round out flavors.
Use nutmeg this year in sausage mixes, lasagnas, ragus, winter squash and dark leafy greens! Just remember that a little nutmeg goes a long way, with most recipes only calling for one-eighth of a teaspoon.

 

Cloves

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Native to Indonesia, cloves and clove oil has been used in Asian cooking for over 2,000 years. Their warm, sweet-spicy taste is so versatile however that it is now used to flavor meats and stews, rich sauces like mole, pickled vegetables, breads and cheeses, sweet desserts and even warm beverages like cider and chai tea.

Cloves can be bought whole or ground with whole cloves keeping their flavor longer. To tell if a clove is fresh, push your fingernail into the head: a fresh clove will release some of its fragrant oils.

Our only tip to using cloves? Use them sparingly! They pack a big punch and could easily overpower a dish if overused.

 

Allspice

Pungent and fragrant, allspice is the dried out, unripe berry of “pimenta dioica”, en evergreen tree native to Jamaica, Guatemala and Honduras. Once dried, the berries are small, dark brown hard balls that resemble peppercorns. Discovery rights go to Christopher Columbus who came across it on his travels through the Caribbean. With a warm, sweet flavor; allspice goes great in a number of foods. From ground beef to cakes, allspice adds and intriguing spiciness to a variety of dishes.

 

Ginger

Ginger root is used across asian cuisine, very similarly to the way and frequency at which we use onions in American cooking. This root stem is available fresh to be grated into meals or in powdered form to blend with other spices. During fall, ground ginger adds a dimension of flavor and spiciness to roasted veggies, marinades, rice, stir fries, curries and more. In sweeter uses ginger is the prime ingredient that gives gingerbread, gingersnaps and ginger ale their unique sharpness. You will also find ginger added to pumpkin pie, pound cake, fruit tarts, cakes, frosting and sauces.

 

Vanilla

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There really is no time of year where vanilla is not appropriate! This exotic, fragrant and luscious ingredient is crucial in a barrage of cookies, cakes, custards, creams, tarts, breads, sodas, puddings and frostings. Available in liquid form for baking and cooking, vanilla extract is made by steeping vanilla bean pods in ethyl alcohol and water.  If you get the opportunity to cook with whole vanilla beans, use them sparingly!

 

Rosemary

This Mediterranean herb has been used for cooking and medical purposes for thousands of years. It has a warm, spicy scent that compliments many types of dishes across many cultures and foods. When buying rosemary, choose sprigs that are grey to green in color. The sprigs should be supple, not woody. You do not want to see any yellow / black mushy areas or needles falling off easily and it should have a sharp, spicy, clean odor.

 

Turmeric

Many are familiar with turmeric as the main spice in Indian curries. It has a warm, bitter taste and is commonly used to color curries, mustards, butters, cheeses and beyond. Similar to ginger, turmeric is a root-like stem that produces the yellow turmeric spice. Turmeric adds a rich, deep flavor to a variety of seasonal dishes including roasted vegetables, soups, rices, muffins, cookies and more.

 

Bay Leaf

When first steeped, bay leaves have a nose-clearing menthol aroma. However, once simmered over time in a stew or sauce, bay leaves release a complex, rich, earthy aroma and flavor similar to tea. While some find them optional, adding a bay leaf to your recipes at the right time for the right amount of time enhances the dimension of flavor in your other more crucial ingredients like black pepper or leek. We suggest using dried bay leaves to avoid over-flavoring your foods.

 

What About Pumpkin Spice?

Pumpkin spice is the combination of a number of the spices mentioned! Make your own using this simple recipe:

  • 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves.

Mix together in a small bowl and store in a small jar or spice container for all your pumpkin spice needs!

 

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October 10, 2017