Spice Primer

Becky Low from the Utah Dairy Council shares a bit of history and show us how to use spices to “Spice Up your Life”

Becky Low with the Dairy Farmers of Utah was with us today on Studio 5 with her tips and a brief history of spices and the impact on the world. Becky’s tips also include how to use fresh vs dried spices, shelf life of spices we us every day and if you grow or buy fresh herbs Becky is amazing in helping you understand how to store and preserve them for future use.

The history of spices dates back hundreds of years before Christ. Spice trade was an integral part of world history – wars, economy, including the rise and fall of empires. Spices were prized for their medicinal, monetary, and barter value. Some historians say pepper was the first spice used as currency. Today spices are grown worldwide and are readily available. Besides enhancing the depth and natural flavor of foods, spices can often be used to create a healthier version of a favorite dish by reducing or eliminating the amount salt and fat needed in a recipe. Following are a few tips for choosing and using spices in Utah kitchens.


Spices – seeds, buds, fruit or flower, bark, roots (sometimes referred to as the tropical plants)

Herbs – ground leaves, stems and sometimes flowers

How to use:

Start small – too much will overpower a dish. More can be added later

Ground – for greater flavor add near the end of cooking

Fresh to ground ratio 2:1 to 3:1 (3 teaspoons fresh to 1 teaspoon ground)

Shelf Life:

Whole spices: 3-4 years

Ground spices: 2-3 years

Some chefs claim: 6 months


Cool, dark and dry locations

Avoid freezing ground spices

Freeze fresh herbs (finely chop, place in ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze)

Freshness indicators:

Use by date on package (if needed, refer to manufacture to decipher product codes)

Color – bright

Smell – distinct

Taste – true to form

Basic list:


Ground Cinnamon

Ground Nutmeg

Pumpkin Pie Spice (includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice)

Poultry Seasoning (includes thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, nutmeg)

Italian Seasoning (includes oregano, marjoram, basil, sage)

Onion powder, salt, dried

Garlic powder, salt

Extended List:






Cayenne pepper

Chili powder




Dry mustard

Peppers (lemon pepper, garlic pepper)

Seafood seasoning

Steak & Chop seasoning

Add spices of choice according to dishes prepared and taste preferences

For more spice information see:




Nice reference for substitutions of spices:


What goes with what?

This is a partial recommended list of herbs and spices to use with which foods:

Basil: Italian dishes, pasta, pesto

Bay leaf: beef, lamb, soups, stews, sauces

Chives: dips, potatoes, sauces, tomatoes

Cilantro: Mexican dishes, salsas, tomatoes

Cinnamon: fruit dishes, lamb, beef, breads

Dill: fish, breads, vegetables, eggs

Marjoram: tomatoes, squash, green beans, carrots, chicken, beef

Mint: red potatoes, fruit recipes, peas, teas

Nutmeg: custards, breads, fruit dishes, meat dishes, sauces

Oregano: Italian recipe, Mexican recipes, sauces

Parsley: dips, eggs

Rosemary: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, beef, soups

Sage: stuffing, chicken, turkey, pork

Tarragon: chicken, eggs, and fish

Thyme: potato salads, squash, tomatoes, Italian recipes

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