Does grinding your own spices produce better results in the kitchen?


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It’s true — grinding your own spices in lieu of using their pre-ground counterparts produces fresher, better flavors. Using a spice or coffee grinder, or a mortar and pestle, releases the oil and scent of the spices, whether you’re grinding nutmeg, cumin or coriander.

Although spices don’t go bad, they lose their potency as they age — particularly when ground. Home chefs with money to burn replace spices every six months, but pre-ground spices can actually last from two to three years. On the contrary, whole spices can last up to four years and retain their potency better than pre-ground spices, making them a cost-effective, lasting alternative.


Spice advice

  • Spices aren’t cheap, so whether you’re buying whole or pre-ground spices, make purchases in small quantities. That way you won’t be throwing out what were once perfectly good spices during spring cleaning.

  • Spices are freshest right after grinding, so only grind as much as you need at any given time. You can always grind more.

  • To find whole spices, you’ll likely need to skip the grocery store and buy from a specialty spice store like Penzey’s. This well-known spice haven offers a huge selection in a variety of sizes at very reasonable prices. 

  • You can grind with a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Just don’t use the coffee grinder for coffee too — unless you want all your spices tasting like dark roast.

  • When you want a little flavor but not the whole shebang, throw whole spices into the pot. This is especially common with strong spices like pepper and cloves.