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One of the secrets to cooking with spices is to always make sure they’re fresh. The difference between fresh cumin or ground coriander, and stuff that’s been sitting around for a while, is astonishing.
If you go to the spice isle of your local super market, even a good one, you’re destined for disappointment. First, the bottles have been sitting around for months. They’re also crazily expensive: 2 oz. of ground cumin for $5 at your local Whole Foods.
You can go to the Indian Grocer. For $5, instead of 2 oz, you’ll get 8. And it will be fresh. But if you’re like me and cook a curry once every three months, what are you going to do with the 6 oz of each spice that you’re left with? It seems criminal to throw it out, but by the time you’re ready to use it again, you really should (remember fresh).
Anna Hovan ran store for 30 years…just a about half of Broad Imports Distributor’s history (founded in 1954). Her husband, Andy, recently retired from A&P, and now runs the store in her stead. What they don’t know about spices isn’t worth knowing.
With thanks to Jim Carlucci and Judy Winkler for their original suggestions.