Penzey’s may not be the first place you’d think of for Xmas gifts, but maybe it should be. Because who among us doesn’t need to refresh their spice rack?
To ensure the spices we use are full of their characteristic flavors, we all should really refresh many of our spices every year or so…rather than every 10 years or so.
I frequently buy Penzey’s spices in the small containers. When they’re gone -- which is sometimes within months –I get more, ensuring the spices I’m using for cooking are fresh.
When I shop at Penzey’s, I play a little game. I walk over to some sample spice jars and intentionally avoid looking at their labels. I gently shake a bottle, open it up and take a sniff. Then I try to figure out what spice it is. I get it right about 30% of the time; it’s how I train the nose.
When each of my daughters was in college, I’d sometimes send gift boxes of Penzey’s spices. Nothing fancy, just the seasonings I thought they’d need to survive: high-quality peppercorns, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary…the basics.
Over the decades, I think I’ve probably sent every member of my family a gift of Penzey’s spice at least once.
If you’re keen to give something a little unusual, consider lavender (of limited utility, but with a lot of character and perhaps inspirational), an exotic chili (sanaam, tien tsin, Penzy’s has a lot) or chocolate (natural cocoa powder: guaranteed appreciated and an inspiration of winter baking).
Maybe it’s still a little early to think about Christmas, but if you happen to be in Penzey’s buying spices for any holiday meal, consider buying some of those same spices for holiday gifts. Spice is a memorable gift. and a refreshed spice rack is something many of us need.