Stores of food staples are meaningless without the proper add-in ingredients. Remember, you need to be prepared to provide meals for your family that are as “normal” as possible in order to help alleviate the stress of change and chaos and to literally provide comfort. This is why I’m sharing with you my “never be without” spice list. This list is actually in addition to what I hope would be standard in everyone’s kitchen such as salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, Tabasco sauce, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, Worchester sauce, Italian seasoning, caraway seed, and All Spice.
Liquid Smoke: This powerful little ingredient is a great addition to a pot of beans and a stew or soup including meats. Use it in your barbeque sauce, as part of a marinade, or in a stuffing. You get a wonderful smoke flavor without having to take the time to smoke the meats or beans. It marries especially well with pork—and even SPAM. A tablespoon of this goes a long way. Some folks may get a headache from it though, just as some do a red wine. So try it on your family prior to stocking up on it. Chinese 5-Spice: If you’ve ever eaten those famous Chinese Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, you’ve not doubt had a taste of this yummy flavor mix. It’s amazing on spare ribs, chicken, tofu, and vegetables and is a great substitute for salt. Recently I was on a high protein, low carb eating regime and I never would have made it had it not been for this delightful spice. I recently sautéed shrimp in this delightful mixture and served it atop a bed of spinach. Mmmmmm… delicious! Ginger: The odd looking ginger root is nothing short of a piece of heaven in my book. Growing ginger is actually quite easy as well. Simple rough up a piece of the root and plant it in a shaded area. It’s used often in meat dishes, vegetable dishes, and even as the key ingredient in a broth or a tea. It also has a convenient anti-nausea factor to it as well. You can easily store the root in the freezer for long periods of time. I also buy mine in a paste form, found in the fresh vegetable section of the store. A little ginger goes a long way and it also works well in concert with garlic. I use it to season turkey and chicken burgers. Create a drizzle of it combined with soy sauce and a touch of honey and you’ve got a great dressing to revive even the most dull of vegetables. Montreal Steak Seasoning: Don’t let the name fool you. It’s definitely not just for steaks. I’ve used it on fried potatoes and chicken quite successfully. It’s a perfect mix for a brisket or hamburgers as well. Just a dash in an omelet also adds the right amount of spice. Johnny’s Garlic Bread Seasoning: Again, don’t be misled by the name. I use this spice on salads, chicken, potatoes, omelets, as well as my “secret ingredient” on garlic bread. It also goes great with deviled eggs. I also love it coated on grilled zucchini pieces. Yum!
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Enchilada Seasoning: Rather than purchasing this in the little envelopes that may or may not contain sugar and may or may not season my meats appropriately, I save money and the hassle of guessing by purchasing this in a jar as shown in the picture. Not only does it work well in your typical enchilada concoctions, I’ve used it successfully in flavoring my homemade tortillas and pizza sauces as well. Taco Seasoning: Again, something that I will never buy in an envelope again. This is just far too handy to be stored in any other way. Just a shake in a soup or an omelet or a casserole, and Voila! You’ve got something a little different that begs for a dollop of sour creams and some black olives! Ranch Dressing Seasoning: Since I’m on a roll with the boycotting of envelopes, let me introduce you to this handy-dandy spice as well—but in a jar. I love it in dips, on vegetables (especially corn on the cob or corn out of the can) in buttered noodles, in a creamy pizza sauce, rice and bean burritos, and it’s my “not-so-secret-anymore” ingredient to my homemade mashed potatoes. Even if you have to use the boxed or packaged kinds of mashed potatoes, a bit of this seasoning will add a sense of freshness to the dish. That’s one thing I’m constantly on guard about… to be sure that my family never suffers from “appetite fatigue.”
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Curry: Most folks aren’t aware that curry powder is actually traditionally a blend of about 20 spices, herbs and seeds. Among those most commonly used are cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, red and black pepper, poppy and sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric (the latter is what gives curried dishes their characteristic yellow color). When combined with cream and a dash of garlic, you’ve suddenly got an elegant sauce to put atop various meats including seafood and ham. It’s also a fantastic seasoning for fresh vegetables AND fruits as well, including apples, bananas, passion fruit. Contrary to most opinions, curry in and of itself is not spicy unless you use the red or Madras versions. It simply has some power behind the taste, so a little does a lot to your rice, meatloaf, pasta, or barley dish. Cumin: (powdered) What’s a chili without a sprinkle of cumin in it? Sure. But have you tried it on lamb or pork? It’s also amazing in lentil dishes and on roasted potatoes. Yum! I even put it in a fried rice including SPAM recently and it was dang good! It’s a great substitute for black pepper which is how it was used primarily by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. As an alternative use, it’s been successfully used as an anti-septic, as well as an aid for digestive and stomach disorders. Cumin is an excellent source of iron and helps the body to absorb nutrients better. It’s also been used successfully to treat coughing and pneumonia and is also a natural diuretic. A paste made from cumin seeds and peppermint oil placed on the abdomen is said to relieve abdominal pains and liver disorders. It can also relax muscles and prevent muscle cramps. It’s even been said to help mothers produce more breast milk. So bring it on, right? Mrs. Dash: Frankly I rarely use salt for my regular meals. I primarily use Mrs. Dash even on my cottage cheese and as a seasoning in vegetable dips Johnny’s Seasoning Salt: Anytime I can avoid just plain salt and use a seasoning salt instead, I’m all for it. And this is sold in bulk at Costco and my family has come to LOVE it… on meats, seafoods, vegetables, fresh salads, deviled eggs, you name it. Yum yum. Salad Supreme: Other than using it on the obvious salads, I also use this on my fresh baked rolls. In fact sometimes, I even roll out the dough to the shape of a bread stick, dip it in melted butter, and then sprinkle them all over with this Salad Supreme mix. I’m always being asked for my “recipe” for my breadsticks. There you go folks. The secret’s out. I use salad seasoning on my bread. Ha! Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter here To see our upcoming event schedule, click here Check out our inhome-course programs Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing! For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit! Copyright Protected 2009, Preparedness Pro and Kellene. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.
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I would also add Lowery's Seasoned salt. We use it when boiling vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, or whatever. My experience is that food should be boiled in it. I've tried adding it like salt to cooked food, and it seems far too salty. But when you cook your food in Lowery's it gives the perfect taste. I highly recommend Asparagus boiled in Lowery's. Oh, and don't try any generic brand. Lowery's knows how to do seasoned salt right!
I've purchased the Johnny's Garlic Spread in regular stores, as well as in Costco.
Absolutely. If you were to keep the containers in a larger container with something like that you would be just fine and dandy!
The silicon bags would be ideal in your large container holding the other containers of spices as well. Also, I forgot to mention, don't worry too much about clumping. The humdity doesn't alter the taste much for periods of less than a year, it just makes it inconvenient to dispense.
salt, pepper, mustard seed (make your own mustard), thyme, oregano, dill, and paprika would all be on my list.
i use a smoked salt instead of liquid smoke. same impact, just doesn't give use the headaches. you need about 10 grains of salt to give smokey flavor (it lives in a sealed canning jar, or it would smoke up the whole house).
i also would add... horseradish, olives, and capers. all of those add some incredible flavors.
? about Johnny's garlic spread? Is that from Sam's? I've seen it somewhere and never tried it. Is it garlic salt or something more special? One of my favorite seasonings is from Costco and last weekend they were out of this stuff: Kirkland brand Rustic Tuscan Seasoning. It has roasted garlic, bell peppers, rosemary, basil oregano and lemon. Great on chicken, fish or veggies. Could use on other meats too. Thanks.
To me, those are indeed my "staples." I wouldn't be caught without them, also nutmeg (so good with chicken and dumplings!) as well as caraway seed, allspice and pumpkin spice too. I hope that the "extra" ones I mention in the article are helpful to you as well.
Thanks so much to everyone for all of the additional ideas. Overall, the point of the article is to make sure that you stock up on your preferred spice in life, even if it's anchovies or sardines. :-) It will go a long way to allaying fear and instill comfort, even during a time of crisis. Clearly the comments on this piece show that some truly "get it."
Yum, I love spices, don't forget that you can grow a lot of your own herbs too, grow them, dry them, that way YOU KNOW what you are eating. :)
I have a difficult time keeping some spice mixes because they clump from the humidity.
I wonder if a small cloth, or doubled-muslin bag filled with about a teaspoon of rice might help, sort of like a poor-man's version of this:
Definitely. And we'll cover that extensively in a future article as well. Thanks for your comment!
Great post, I think the most important spices are salt and pepper (obviously) as well as garlic powder/salt and seasoning salt of any kind.
Also I like to have cinnamon and other spices that were once only eaten by royalty. These things will be VERY, VERY hard to come by in a major emergency/disaster.
Oh and the humidity, in dry states like Utah we don't have to worry. But certain sections in your house will be drier than others. Also use those small silicone packages that come in shoes (not in the spice just near it) and/or buy a humidifier. There are many cheap ones meant for cigars but will also work for this purpose.
Well we know about humidity in Florida but the only problem I have is with garlic and mixes that contain garlic. I like to keep my spices in easy reach, but perhaps should try putting these items in a container with a little rice.
Perhaps add bouillon to the list. Very easy to store and along with some freshly chopped herbs livens up the rice in my steamer. I tend to use it more as flavoring than anything else. But would be happy to have plenty stocked in an emergency.
I also grow a large variety of herbs and spices.
I have grown ginger for many years. To grow, select ginger that is firm and fresh. Fresh ginger often has a pinkish green tinge. Cut into pieces and let dry overnight. Then plant in a container or directly into the ground in a shaded area.
Crystallized ginger, which is very easy to make, also makes a nice little Christmas gift and is great to add to hot tea to sooth the stomach.
Along with the usual culinary herbs I grow I could not wish to do without ginger or jalapenos. Fortunately both are easy to grow and easy to preserve.
You may also want to have some Kitchen Bouqet on hand. That’s a liquid, so the humidity won’t bother it. It’s a season-all kind of spice and is great for gravies too.
I’m jealous that you can grow ginger. That and garlic are my favorite spices but I haven’t been successful with the ginger yet. But maybe I’ve been using too much sun. Ginger is GREAT for nausea!
You may also want to have some Kitchen Bouqet on hand. That's a liquid, so the humidity won't bother it. It's a season-all kind of spice and is great for gravies too.
I'm jealous that you can grow ginger. That and garlic are my favorite spices but I haven't been successful with the ginger yet. But maybe I've been using too much sun. Ginger is GREAT for nausea!
Don't forget also that many spices are better purchased still whole. When milled, they begin losing the oils that give the aroma, flavor, and other benefits. They are a time bomb.
Many spices can still be purchased whole though, and will then store much better, as well as requiring less overall, and gives you a much better 'cuisine' when cooking now.
The most common way to prove this is to compare some of your old black pepper you've had sitting around, with some freshly cracked black pepper. There is a world of difference, sand vs healthy flavor. Now imagine this with more delicate seasonings, such as your nutmeg. It's a world of difference, and well worth trying out.
Yes I have lots of pre-milled seasonings stored, but I have lots that are easily available in whole form, and my food benefits from it.
This is one of the reasons why I have a battery operated coffee grinder. It's great for pre-milled spices and for whole grains when I just want a cracked grain for a cereal or a bread.
A great reason to keep a lot of straight seasonings is that they often have medicinal uses (as you touched on with cumin)! For example, ginger is great for stomach upset, too! Sniffing mint oil is THE BEST remedy for nausea I've found. And ginger, garlic, & many others are somewhat antibacterial -- a big plus when you are without refrigeration.