Monday, April 6, 2015

Spice Bar: Buying Spices By Weight Allows for Experimentation

I am always looking for new products in the grocery aisle. I love to cook and I like to try new things. A little something for my salt collection, perhaps? A new flavor of Jell-O. Perfect pot-size spaghetti. I take my time when I'm shopping and have fun dreaming up what I can make.

When I saw this buy-by-weight spice display, I stopped in my tracks. How can this be? Can a spice company really survive if customers started buying by the pinch? 

One of the biggest obstacles in home cooking is having all of the ingredients. I know we often pass on a great looking recipe when it calls for a spice we don't already have in the house. 

While replacing our tried and true favorites can be expensive, experimenting with a whole bottle of Cream of Tarter or Chinese 5 Spice feels somewhere between wasteful and reckless. Why? I'm not sure, but I know that I can't be along in this feeling.

I found this Spice and Tea Bar by Frontier Natural Products Co-op in a Washington QFC grocery store and I bought from it the very first time I saw it. I was going to make a small batch of pickles in my hotel room and I needed only a smidgen of turmeric.  I had resigned myself to buying an entire bottle, but when I saw this display and figured out how to dispense a little into the provided bags, I ended up buying just enough for one recipe: 17 cents worth. It felt like I had conquered a big hurdle. 

I felt what I can only describe as a sense of freedom knowing that I now had a way to experiment with a whole new selection of spices without a big commitment. This is a revolutionary development in cooking as far as I'm concerned. We no longer need to buy an $8.00 bottle of ground cardamom, when the recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon. Head to the store with your list of ingredients and come home with exactly what you need for the recipe. When a recipe becomes a favorite, buying the bottle makes sense. No one liked the curried lamb chops? No biggie. Toss the recipe and move on.

I read a lot of magazines and watch plenty of cooking shows, yet I have never heard anyone mention this new buy-by-weight spice bar concept. Have you? Help me get the word out - this is big!

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