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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Making Your Own Seasoning Blends

Frugal Kitchens 101

Seasoning blends are often used in place of measuring out individual portions of herbs and spices.  This saves a bit of time in the kitchen.  The food industry would have us believe that the only way to get these seasoning blends is to buy their expensive packets and fancy glass bottles.  They use terms like secret blend of herbs and spices and on the actual ingredient list will list as spices rather than identify what herbs and spices are in the blend.  Restaurants often refer to seasoning blends as their house blend.  The reality is the seasoning blends were made by someone at some time.  The blend became popular so to market the blend it suddenly became secret.  Quite often the secret ingredient is sugar.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses how you can make your own seasoning blends and save money too!

A few things to consider:

  • Store bought seasoning blends are expensive.  Consider poultry seasoning and New Beau Monde seasoning.  The fancy glass bottles of each will cost somewhere in the $3 range.  A packet of poultry seasoning that you can pour into your own container will cost about $2.   The homemade blend of New Beau Monde seasoning costs about 20¢ while the poultry seasoning costs about 10¢ using home dried herbs and 40¢ using dried herbs bought in bulk.  Clearly there is a substantial savings in making your own seasoning blends.
  • Many store bought seasoning blends contain additives and preservatives.  Common additives are monosodium glutamate (MSG), silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), modified corn starch, citric acid and sulphites.
  • Store bought basic salt blends are expensive.  These include onion, garlic and celery.  Each will cost in the $3 range for a small 3 oz bottle yet can easily be made for about 30¢ per 8 oz at home.
  • Making your own seasoning blends is not time consuming.  In most cases seasoning blends can be made in 5 minutes or less depending on the number of ingredients used.
  • Find seasoning blend recipes is quite easy.  You can bet if the seasoning blend exists so too does a clone recipe.  Some Chefs even include their house blends in their cookbooks.  The nice thing about this is you can tweak the recipe to your tastes.
Here are the basics you will need to make a wide variety of seasonings.  While the list looks lengthy and expensive it isn't.   Most of the herbs mentioned as well as the vegetables can be grown at home then dried to use as needed.  If you need to purchase them the best prices for dried herbs, spices, seeds and salts can be found a bulk food stores.  The prices are quite inexpensive when purchased this way.  For example I recently paid 14¢ for enough bay leaves to fill a 500 ml (pint) mason jar, 30¢ for dill seed (filled 4 oz spice bottle) and 27¢ for fennel seed (filled 4 oz spice bottle) at the bulk food store.  This is the number one place to buy dried herbs and spices because you buy the amount you need not the size the food industry packages them in.  The second cheapes way to buy dried herbs and spices is online through sites like www.bulkfoods.com.  You will pay shipping but will still save money.  The third cheapest is buying herbs and spices in packets that can be poured into your own container.  Grocery stores have a limited selection of these and places like World Market have a wider selection quite reasonably priced.  Vegetable powders are quite easily made at home by drying the desired vegetable purée then powdering it in the blender.
  • basic herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bayleaf (whole, powdered), garlic, savory, cumin, lavender, dill (seeds, weed), fennel (seeds), basil
  • basic spices - pepper (white, ground, peppercorns), cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cloves, cardamon
  • basic seeds - mustard (whole, ground), poppy, celery
  • basic salts - sea (Mediterrean, Himilyan, Alaea Hawaiian), Kosher, pickling, iodized (not recommended)
  • basic powdered/dehydrated fruits/vegetables - chili, onion, tomato, carrot, mushroom, zucchini, cayenne, Spanish paprika, lime, lemon, celery


2 food lovers commented:

Greg said...

A waste of money in our home used to be packets of taco seasoning used. We tend to eat chicken tacos at least every other week, so we were buying a packet of seasoning for about $2 each.

I did some surfing and came across a recipe for replacing those packets. I haven't figured out the price, but the replacement has to be only a fraction of the cost of the packets.

Here's a link to the All Recipes page with it.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Greg :) There are very few times that a homemade mix is more expensive than store bought.