How to Spice Up Your Spices

Holiday How To — Day 15 — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

Take full advantage of all the flavor in your spices by grinding, crushing or heating them. Spices, which are the bark, roots, seeds or berries of certain plants, pack the biggest flavor punch when they’re whole, but biting into a whole clove, coriander seed or cinnamon stick is not a pleasant experience. Breaking their outer surface – in a food processor, coffee grinder or crushing them with the side of your knife – helps release the flavor without the added texture or overpowering bite.

Once they’re ground or crushed, heating your spices in a dry (no water or oil) sauté pan over medium heat will deepen their flavor. It’s also a great way to refresh spices that have been sitting in your pantry for a while. Be careful to heat them only until they’re aromatic – when you can smell them, they’re done. Get them out of the hot pan before they burn.

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