Want to know a big secret to why restaurant food tastes better than homecooked food? Seasoning, namely salt! Most restaurants that have a real chef in the kitchen understand that a customer should never have the job of seasoning their own food. You’re there to not have to think about what you’re eating but to enjoy the fact that someone else did that work for you. These Homemade Seasoning Blends will give you the jump on creating fresh meals that are just as flavorful or even moreso than restaurant meals because I have crafted each one to be perfectly balanced. That said, if you find them too salty or not salty enough, of course feel free to adjust to your taste.
Why Make Homemade Spice Blends?
My Blackened Mahi post got me thinking that I needed to do a post on all my favorite seasoning blends because making your own is SUPER SIMPLE plus there are several really great reasons to DIY instead of buy them.
- You control the amount of salt and what kind of salt goes into them.
- You control what doesn’t go into them; many premade spice blends have MSG or other additives to keep the spices from sticking together.
- They are MUCH cheaper. The average spice blend on a regular grocery store shelf is at least $4 for a 2 oz (or less) jar. Premium spice blends that you buy in specialty stores start at $8 for a jar or $4 for a one-time-use envelope.
Where to Buy Ingredients for Homemade Seasoning Blends
The only ingredients for seasoning blends are dried spices and herbs plus a good salt. The key to using dried spices and herbs is to keep them fresh by only buying what you will use in 6 months (some people say 3 months.) Since I learned how to make seasoning blends, I have sought out local stores that sell spices and herbs in bulk. There is usually a healthfood store in most towns and they typically stock bulk jars or bins with spices. Sprouts, Winco and WholeFoods are more widespread and they have them, too. The HEB/Central Market family of stores in Texas have bulk areas as well. The first google I would search, though, is “healthfood stores” if you don’t have any of these stores nearby. Organic spices and herbs are best if you can find them. If you can’t just buy regular.
Salt is the other ingredient and it is very important since salt usually makes up at least one quarter of the total volume. Sea salt and Himalayan pink salt are the best forms of salt to use because they are not processed. Look for fine salt so it mixes together with the other ingredients well. Keep in mind, however, that both the size of the grain and the type of salt will affect the saltiness so if you use kosher salt, for instance, it will change that factor since it is bigger grains than fine sea salt. Start with the recipes below then taste a little off the palm of your hand. If you don’t detect salt right away, add a little more. If it is too salty, add 1/2 tsp more of each spice in the blend to balance it out then next time you make the seasoning blend, add less salt than the recipe states if you are using the same type of salt.
How to Store Spices
I use 4 oz jars for individual spices and 8 oz jars for blends and since I have them in a drawer, I use Avery round labels that fit in the center of the small lids that fit both jars. If you are using cabinet space instead, you can use labels that go on the side of the jars. If you feel like you may frequently change the spices around, use labels you can write on and erase instead of printing them. I actually wish I had done this because I have changed a few. (I removed them to make the photo look a little prettier.)
How to make Homemade Seasoning Blends
This is the best part. You simply mix together the ingredients in a jar so that they are thoroughly combined then you can either sprinkle with your fingers, spoon them out or buy shaker lids that fit your jar.
They make awesome gifts so once you get this down, start thinking about who is going to be lucky enough to get a beautiful box of spices. Make them extra special by layering the ingredients in the jars like sand art and give them directions to shake well before using.