4 Things You Need To Know About Using Freshly Ground Spices

by Melanie B on Nov 20, 2020

Freshly ground spices

When offered a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper on your salad from a server with a spice grinder in a restaurant, would you turn it down and grab the pepper shaker on the table instead? Chances are you would not - once you’ve tasted the savory wonder of freshly ground pepper it’s hard to turn down. The previously ground pepper on the table is fine, but freshly ground pepper delivers a pop of flavor that wakes up your taste buds. 

Freshly Ground Spices Add More Robust Flavor 

Our society has accepted that fresh is better. But why is that so true when it comes to freshly ground spices like pepper? It's because what sparks the flavor in spices is in the oil they contain. 

The oils are preserved with a natural casing provided by the plant that produced the spice. When that spice is ground up, the casing is crushed and the oils it contains are exposed to air. When air hits the oil the evaporation process begins. The taste intensity decreases immediately and only continues to decline the longer the spice is stored. All of the oil eventually evaporates along with the flavor. 

It may not be practical to use freshly ground spices in every recipe, but they can make a good dish into an unforgettable one. The robust essence of a spice’s taste is in its oil. and preserving that will yield the best result in flavor. 

Toasting Spices Before Grinding Intensifies Flavor 

If you are already enjoying the culinary delights of freshly ground spices, there is a way to take it to the next level. Toasting spices before grinding them will provide a deeper level of flavor than you may have imagined. It is a secret used by many great chefs. 

We’ve established that the flavor of spices is in the oils they contain. When you heat whole spices, it draws that oil out. Letting them cool and then grinding them for immediate use will provide the most intense taste a spice has to offer. 

Toasting spices is simple to do; all you need is a stovetop, a skillet, and of course the whole spice itself. Resist the urge to drop some olive oil in the skillet first, because it isn’t necessary. You should toast spices in a dry skillet. If you want to toast the exact amount of whole spice called for in a recipe, search the internet for conversion tables. There are plenty of resources that provide whole-to-ground spice measurement conversions. A quick tip: print one out and store it in the cupboard where you keep spices. 

As you start to heat up the skillet, don’t be alarmed if you hear some popping sounds. Some spices will do that when heated, similar to popping corn. You’ll know the spices are done toasting when they start to darken a bit. The spices will produce a rich aroma that fills your kitchen as they are toasted. A wonderful-smelling kitchen is a bonus of toasting spices. 

It only takes a couple of minutes for the spices to be done toasting. Once they’re done, remove them from the skillet immediately. This will prevent them from continuing to roast from the residual heat in the skillet. If the spices become burnt or overcooked, they will taste bitter and you will have to start all over. There is definitely a sweet spot that you want to hit in the toasting process, and it is easy to get the hang of it. 

Once you’ve allowed the spices to cool, put them in your spice grinder. In a matter of seconds, you’ll have toasted ground spices that will deepen the flavor of your dishes.  

Some Spices Taste Better When Freshly Ground 

Pepper is a great spice for seasoning, but freshly ground pepper adds an exquisite taste to dishes. There are several spices, like pepper, that reveal their true delights with a run through your spice grinder. Cumin, clove, coriander, and nutmeg are some examples. You can add any spice that is a seed, such as mustard seed, to that list. 

Have you ever tried to replicate the taste of a dish you experienced at a fine dining restaurant? You achieved a flavor close to what you had there, but something was off. It could be that you pulled from your spice rack when the recipe called for a freshly ground spice. No one would fault you for that, but that could be the difference in why the dish is good, but not as good as you imagined. The best recipes are prepared with great thought and if a spice is better freshly ground, trust the recipe if that is called out.  

Using Freshly Ground Spices is Easier You Think

If you are interested in using freshly ground spices but think it is too cumbersome, consider an electric spice grinder. An electric spice grinder provides freshly ground spice at just the push of a button. 

The FinaMill electric spice grinder makes it even easier. The FinaMill electric spice grinder comes with interchangeable pods. A benefit of the pods is that you avoid cross contamination of spices. This is a feature that streamlines the process of adding different types of freshly ground spices while preparing a meal. 

Freshly ground spices

For example, you're preparing a pie for Thanksgiving dinner and using your FinaMill electric spice grinder to add freshly ground nutmeg. While the pie is cooking, you move on to mashed potatoes and want to add freshly ground pepper. With the FinaMill electric spice grinder, you won’t have to stop and wash it out to remove any traces of nutmeg. You just change out the pod to grind the pepper, and cooking your large meal is simplified.  

Using freshly ground spices doesn’t have to be difficult to incorporate into your cooking routine. With tools like the FinaMill electric spice grinder, you can achieve the flavors you enjoy at your favorite restaurant with a minimum amount of effort.