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Unread 04-24-2011, 10:15 AM   #1
Big Darb
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Default Do high quality spices make a big difference?

I'm a big fan of Penzeys spices in my cooking and have found that the high quality makes a big difference. However, when it comes to the volume of spice used in rubs it could get costly. Has anyone ever side by side compared a rub made with "high quality spices" with one made with "big bottle spices" from Sam's club?

Thanks all!
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Unread 04-24-2011, 10:45 AM   #2
Mister Bob
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In my opinion, quality spices ground right before you use them, make a HUGE difference. It's like switching to High Definition Video.
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Unread 04-24-2011, 10:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Bob View Post
In my opinion, quality spices ground right before you use them, make a HUGE difference. It's like switching to High Definition Video.
I agree. Fresh is important too. Fortunately, we have a local food coop that stocks all of the spices I use in bulk. A little more expensive but the quality, like Mister Bob said, is like switching to High Def.
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Unread 04-24-2011, 11:02 AM   #4
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Our family was in the restaraunt business for a long time, where every penny counts, Still my mom refused to serve mediocre food, so she would try a bunch of different stuff until she found something that worked for her, especially with dry herbs and spices.

I take the same "taste and sample" approach when it comes to spices that I use at home, especially when it comes to things that you're going to buy already in crumble or powder form - salts, chili powders, paprika, etc. You might find some cheaper bulk spices that you like better than the "good stuff" flavor wise in your receipes.
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Unread 04-24-2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Bob View Post
In my opinion, quality spices ground right before you use them, make a HUGE difference. It's like switching to High Definition Video.
what he said ^ +1

fresh matters...pick, grind, toast etc. right before using when possible.

just an opinion.
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Unread 04-24-2011, 02:31 PM   #6
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I would suggest looking for a bulk supplier of fine herbs, there are a few around. Typically, they only provide in large un-ground quantities, so there is an issue. But, you can get large amounts of wholesale spices that way. IMO, dried herbs are not a great choice except for in rubs, but, you can find the amounts you would normally need pretty easily at local sources. Large amounts of dried herbs dry up and go weak much to easily.
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Unread 04-27-2011, 10:16 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. It makes sense that quality spice would show through. I just wasn't sure if the time/smoke worked to obscure the subtleties. Perhaps I'll have to make up a rub recipe both ways and compare side by side to confirm.
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Unread 04-27-2011, 10:50 PM   #8
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There's an interesting thread someone here made where he cooked a ton of meat with different spices and sugar and tested how they responded to the cooking. A surprising number of them were found to be muted or worse to his palate. My playing around supports his findings and I think a lot of it makes sense too. Why put a bunch of a high quality mustard powder in a rub when most people will use a mustard slather knowing the flavors will become neutral during the cook? If paprika loses most to all of its flavor during the cook and is just there for color, why use an expensive paprika early in the cook?

My main bbq project for this year is to tweak my rub procedures. Right now I'm leaning toward doing something like a basic salt, pepper, and sugar rub early in the cook, layering on other spices suited to the meat during the cook with a final dusting near serving time. Just gotta eat some more left overs from the freezer before I can have enough results.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 09:46 AM   #9
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Fresh spices are best, but if you can't cook it doesn't matter what you use. Knowing when your food is properly done makes food taste way better than spices.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 10:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Darb View Post
Has anyone ever side by side compared a rub made with "high quality spices" with one made with "big bottle spices" from Sam's club?
Yes, I have done this on several occassions. I've mixed up multiple batches of exactly the same rub, with same proportion of ingredients, using the spices I really like in one batch and genero-spices from the grocery store in another.

I'd say it absolutely makes a difference, more so with some spices than others.

Paprika quality varied a lot.

Freshly ground black pepper vs canned black pepper made a huge difference.

In making Italian sausage, I found high quality fennel seeds made a huge difference from the equivalent product bought at the grocery store.

If you really want to explore these head to head comparisons, America's Test Kitchen puts out a magazine and a series of books that often contain head to head comparisons of various spices that they test out and rate:

http://www.americastestkitchen.com/
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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:37 AM   #11
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Most definitely...I tried some of the cheap stuff last year and my usually top 3 ribs and pork butt tanked in two comps before figured it out...don't skimp on the spices!
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