Add some DIY flair to your kitchen by making your own seasonings with homegrown herbs and spices. There are even health benefits to doing so. Here are some ideas for stocking your spice rack with homemade seasonings and spice blends.
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Sometimes it’s the little things that add a little oomph to life–dare I say, spice it up.
DIY your Health with Herbs and Spices
The way you season and add flavor to your food plays a huge role in your health. Nasty chemicals with unpronounceable names lurk in prepared salad dressings, condiments, seasoning packets, and spice blends.
These small doses of chemicals seem insignificant, but for a person who eats a variety of them at a given meal, the sum of chemicals can be a serious concern. There are no tests that frequently prove or disprove the safety of this unprecedented chemical slurry in the human body, and my guess is that it’s not good.
Why risk it when these homegrown alternatives are so easy?
Just so we’re all clear, herbs refer to the leafy green part of a plant, while the spice refers to other parts of the plant such as the root, stem, bark, bulb, or seed.
Let’s Talk Herbs
Herbs are potent sources of nutrition and easy on the digestion. They’re also very flavorful in small amounts, and can be easily dried or frozen for preservation.
Pesto is one of my favorite ways to season dishes. It can be used on pasta, vegetable noodles, and even in salads, to name a few. Using it fresh is amazing, and although it can’t sit on my spice rack, it can be frozen for later use. I like to use these silicone ice cube trays because the cubes easily pop out.
Basil pesto is probably the most common type. Check out my post about pruning, storing, and using basil for a variety of basil pesto recipes. For a twist, try making kale and basil pesto. Or to be completely unique, ditch the basil altogether and make a cilantro pesto.
Of course, everybody loves jam on toast, but it has a lot of other uses, too. Lather it on top of pancakes, in thumbprint cookies, or add a bit to vanilla yogurt. The uses are endless! For a unique taste of summer, try peaches and basil jam by The Frugal Chicken.
Would you ever guess that you could easily make and flavor your own sodas using homegrown herbs? And we’re not talking that sugary, syrupy, chemical-laden soda pop on the market today. This homemade soda is both refreshing and delightfully good for you, too. Check out Homestead Honey’s how to make homemade soda.
Seasoning your desserts with herbs is actually a pretty cool thing to do!
For more great ideas on preserving herbs, see this post by Schneider Peeps.
Let’s Talk Spices
The word ‘spice’ covers a wide range of possibilities because of its broad definition of being the root, stem, bark, bulb, or seed of a plant. Spices also have potent nutrition and can pack a flavorful punch.
Dehydrating garlic to make garlic powder is such a rewarding experience! I love pulling herbs and spices off the spice rack and thinking about how many of them I grew and processed myself.
Follow my instructions for making garlic powder here. In that post, I also review how to make garlic salt! Garlic powder and garlic salt can become the basis for a whole slew of seasoning blends.
Onion powder is another one of those spices that is a common ingredient in most spice blends. Grace, Garden and Homestead shows you how to make onion powder and onion salt.
Then you can try making your own French onion dip!
Spice and Salt Blends
Making spice blends might seem like a minor kitchen detail amidst a busy lifestyle, but they are absolutely essential to adding variety to the meal plan without adding extra cost. For example, we eat a lot of poultry because it is the most affordable way for us to eat pasture-raised animals from a local farm.
We also eat tougher cuts of beef such as roasts, which become succulent in the slow cooker with a good steak rub. At any rate, spice blends impart a flavor theme and add nutrition to the meal.
For example, I have about 10 different ways I can spice up chicken wings using the herbs and spices on my spice rack, from a smoky spice blend to sage salt to a Greek spice blend. Each one gives the meal a different theme. Most of my spice and salt blend recipes come from one of my favorite cookbooks, Practical Paleo.
Learn how to grow your own turmeric from Attainable Sustainable, and you’re halfway to making your own curry powder!
If you’d like to know how to make taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, or ranch dressing mix, look no further than Survival at Home’s post about homemade seasoning mixes. He also has a good chili powder mix.
A citrus salt blend would be divine for seasoning meats, veggies, or salad dressings. And if you’re into making your own fermented pickles, you’ll want to make this pickling spice blend from Pixie’s Pocket.
When I can’t grow my own of an herb or spice, I usually buy it in the bulk spice section at Whole Foods, refilling my existing spice jars. It is far cheaper to do it this way. Usually I buy the spice in its whole form (which is also cheaper!)–such as cumin seeds or black peppercorns–and grind just enough at a time to keep a spice jar full. (I use my little coffee grinder to grind spices.)
Homemade seasonings are a low-cost way to add oomph to everyday meals, and they can have a positive impact on health and quality of life. In fact, they even make excellent, simple-to-assemble gifts for the homegrown cook!
Have you made any of your own seasonings?