Holiday Food Gifts from Oak Park: Penzey's Spices

Give a practical gift

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By David Hammond

I wrote about the new salt selection at Penzey's last summer. I like that we have this high-quality source for spice in our village.

Most of us hang onto our spices way beyond their useful life. We purchase cinnamon or paprika and keep it above the stove for years, slowly losing lively flavor to heat and time.

It's probably a good idea to dump spices that have been around longer than two years – some perhaps after even one year. To determine if your spice is past its prime, give it a whiff; if you get a full nose of good smells, keep it; if you don't smell much of anything, then the spice is ready for the compost heap. If the color of the spice has changed, that's another indicator that it's likely lost its oomph.

Given the limited life span of spice, particularly ground spice, it makes sense to purchase spices – especially infrequently used spices – in small quantities so that you can pretty much use them up by the time it's ready to retire them.

Penzey's has gift boxes available on-line and in the store, and you can create your own gift box of small containers. I've given similar gift boxes to several of my daughters when they started living on their own, and it's an excellent way to provide a practical gift that the receiver will appreciate every time they make dinner.

Or, you could give a bag of premium salt, and you'll be remembered many times throughout the day.

Go to the Penzey's website to order: http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html?id=eEQ4g8d3

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