Spice mixes: yeh or nay?

How do you feel about spice mixes, and why?

I’m anti, with exceptions. For simple things (taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning) I mix my own. My rationale is that by running through my core spices more quickly there is more turnover and everything stays fresher. My exception(s) is/are for mixes that include spices I wouldn’t otherwise buy and think of things to use those spices for; garam masala is my best example.

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I do use mixes, where the mix is a stand-alone ingredient in its own right and is relatively complicated to make up for oneself. Garam masala is a good example. Chinese 5 spice, or Lebanese baharat would be others

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The problem with spice mixes is that they’re made to someone else’s sense of proportion and taste. American “chili powder” is way too weak (wussy chili). “Italian seasoning” has rosemary, which Mark is not keen on. I do have some packets of “Tuscan spice” et al that a friend who gets Hello Fresh didn’t use, and I’ll throw one or two in with a can of beans to perk it up for a quick meal, but on the whole I’d rather mix my own.

If it’s something with more than a couple of ingredients that I use a lot (ee.g., Texas Roadhouse chili mix), I’ll mix a half-dozen-uses or so batch at a time (dry ingredients only).

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I’m a fan of using spice mixes, but I’m picky about the few that I do use. Since there’s usually just two of us eating here, it is easier and more economical to buy one jar of a mix, rather than buying several jars and making my own.
I really like Scott’s Santa Maria Style seasoning mix which I use on all kinds of meat. I also have become a fan of mixes from Savory Spice, especially their Peruvian Chile Lime mix, and Pumpkin Pie spice. I’m looking forward to trying more of their mixes.
I’ve tried spice mixes from Trader Joe’s, but compared to others, they seem kind of bland. I’ve also tried some from Penzey’s but they just didn’t do it for me for some reason.

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I still buy berbere, have baharat, and recently got Za’atar while in Turkey last fall, then my DIL sent more in March. I’m on the fence about Whole Spice and Penzey “chili powder”, because I have a lot of dried chilies (chili’s?) I grew and need to use, but maybe not at 7PM on a Tuesday.

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This. Keeping spices separate and mixing your own as needed or small batch helps me keep an eye on freshness. Spices and dry herbs age differently. Premixes age faster as a result.

Also, keep spices handy so you use them everyday.

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Absolutely and something I should have mentioned. Way too many mixes have a lot of salt and fillers.

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I am usually nay with some exceptions. For example, I can’t replicate the coarseness of Trader Joe’s dukkah blend at home. Similarly, I can’t cut nori into small pieces to make a good Furikake, so I will purchase that, too.

Staleness bothers me a lot these days. If I don’t have all the spices for a mix – say chaat masala – I’m okay with reasonable close.

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Same here. I’ll buy mixes like za’atar, baharat, togarashi spice, and so on.

But not things like “taco seasoning.” I’d simply season with spices from the cabinet.

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Tend to buy whole or ground and mix many of our own. Exceptions are: Penzey’s Chicago Steak Seasoning, P’s Turkish Blend, P’s Berbere, TJ’s Everything but the Bagel, and TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute. Some blends are so off to our tastes. Have found Penzey’s sausage seasoning blends to be good. OTOH, some grocers who sell bulk sausage with their own blends - a hard no there, usually. Have had some weird tasting chorizo, and other spiced meats.

ETA, also like Montreal Steak Seasoning, don’t keep much caraway seed on hand. Don’t use a lot of it because…salty, but with a light hand, pretty good on certain things.

My local “fancy store” doesn’t have enough fat in their sausage mixture. Go figure!

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Only because chic, thin people shop there maybe?? Gotta have that fat in the sausage! Same with ground beef if you’re grilling hamburgers. 80/20 preferred but 85/15 ok. Any lower, and you’ll get a dry burger IMO @shrinkrap.

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Don’t want to get anything started, but I haven’t been thinner in 30 years than I am on a low carb ( and not low fat) “diet”. Disclaimer; I am not recommending a high fat diet!

I wonder if it too late to look into this “chic” thing.

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I don’t use a lot of them, but I’m certainly not “anti”. I don’t use them instead  of separate herbs and spices, when that’s what I want, but there are a fair number of them I like, and I don’t really see any point in spending the time to try to replicate them. (If something were unreasonably expensive given the ingredients, I might, but I don’t usually buy those in the first place, so I don’t know what I might be missing :wink:, and otherwise, why “mess with success”?) That being said, if making it from scratch means it does in fact taste better, I’d do that… and I actively avoid most things that have salt or MSG among the first ingredients. Partly because they’re cheap ingredients (not quite, but almost, as bad as “paying for water” when buying bottled iced tea to drink at home, for example) but also because I don’t like the taste of salt very much and tend to use a lot less of it than the “average” consumer seems to. If I use enough of those blends for good flavor from the “other” ingredients, the end result is usually too salty for my taste… And some things, like curry powder, are just way too much of a PITA to try to reproduce at home, at least imo… and I have plenty of choices available locally, generally quite cheap… (My favorites for a while now have been a couple of different brands from Trinidad & Tobago, that sell for < $2 / 4 ozs, for example…)

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Gotcha, totally @shrinkrap!

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I’ll buy anything I see if it looks interesting.
If they don’t suit my fancy then relegated to the back of the cabinet.

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We’re not fancy dancy here. Taco seasoning and meatloaf seasoning mix. Yep. I have yet to make a decent meatloaf without it.

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Agree. I’ve found low fat mince doesn’t hold together well on the grill.

My brother-in-law and I (pre-CV-19) did some experimenting and found that at least for our grilling techniques, weighing patties going onto the grill and coming off, the higher fat grinds lost significantly more weight so–assuming the loss is predominantly fat–the difference in fat content of the product on your plate is not much.

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There are a few spice mixes from Penzey’s that we keep handy. BBQ of the Americas, Bavarian, Cajun and Chili Con Carne seasonings. We do like their Italian Herb Mix, too.

We also enjoy Sarah’s Sea salt - Tuscan mix.

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Agree, think much of the fat drains off as well @Auspicious.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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