Joined Jan 26, 2001
For Christmas, my mother-in-law ordered me the "Baking Set" of spices from Penzey's Spices. In the past, I have just used the cheapest spices at the grocery store, and these are great. The flavors are intense and the colors are so vibrant!

I was wondering what brand of spices you all use, those of you that spend the extra money for special spices at home.



Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I try to stop by The Spice House in either Chicago or Evanston, IL anytime I am in the area. Great spices, ground fresh. They have lots of turn-over so I know I am getting a high quality, fresh product. Very similar to Penzey's, in fact I think the owners are either related to the the family that started Penzey's or worked for them.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
I'm a dyed in the wool Penzey's customer. Their warehouse store in Brookfield is 15 minutes from my home, so I can buy small quantities and refill whenever I want.

The luxury of going to the store is that you can smell and taste the spices and herbs, samples of which are set out in self-sealing jars so they stay fresh. The place smells like heaven.... Being able to taste is great, because several of their blends are not to my liking- but I wouldn't have been able to tell for sure just by reading the ingredient list. For instance, their herbes de Provence has lavender in it; I can tolerate a little, but theirs has more than I prefer. So I passed it up and saved myself a few bucks.

I love it that they pack their gift boxes with whole nutmegs, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks to keep the bottles from shifting. Reminds me: I'm out of Vietnamese cinnamon!


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Penzey's and Spices Etc. Penzey's has a good Sumac.

Joined Jul 26, 2002
I use Foods Of India in NYC for buying spices. They have better quality than most any spice market I have seen around the world.
They ship around the US.

You can get their address by visiting my site at www.suvir.com

You can click on spices to learn more about spices and also to get the information on Foods of India.

If you have questions on any particular spice, feel free to come and post those in the Indian forum or cooking forum of www.eGullet.com
Joined Mar 12, 2001
Penzeys. When I get home to Mpls. I hit the local Penzeys...it's like a toy store.

I agree with Mezzaluna. Being able to smell and taste the spices is a bonus. I really appreciate the different cinnamons... The soup bases they have are a great fill in when that broth needs a little extra ommph.
Joined Jan 24, 2003
I guess this is will be of interest value only. Ian Hemphill, the proprietor of Herbies, is also the author of an excellent book that may be available in the U.S.
Details can be found if you scroll down at this site: http://www.herbies.com.au/

I live about a 5 minute drive from his shop, which is around 3 miles from the CBD in Sydney. What a find!!!!
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Penzey's story....I've emptied out client's spices and bought at Penzey's mainly for the quality....one day I needed thyme and was buzzing through the grocery, that's when it really hit home that Penzey's is actually significantly CHEAPER than grocery store herbs/spices. pretty great.
Parisian herbs is one of my fav blends, I go through an outrageous amount of it.
Joined Mar 3, 2002
I'm about to make a Penzey's order. High on the list will be a refill of the Ceylon cinnamon - love it for its subtlety and the floral quality. Cassia's ok, buy I hardly use it anymore. I'm planning to add the Vietnamese to my repetoire. I assume from what I've read that one uses it more in savory applications. Yes? No? Has anyone used the Vietnamese and how did you like it?

What other somewhat off the beaten path favorites have you found uses for?
Joined Nov 29, 2001
I use spices from Penzeys and Pendery's. For our wedding favors, I made bags of chamomile tea purchased from Pendery's. Beautiful, fragrant stuff. Penzeys chili powders are excellent. I'd recommend both websites. I recently saw another source called The Spice Hunter. I've never tried them but the blends look interesting. http://www.spicehunter.com
Joined Jul 3, 2002
Just got my first mail-order package from Penzey's. They ARE amazingly cheaper than the supermarket. And clearly lots fresher.
Question: most of the dried herbs and spices I ordered came in small, plastic containers. If I have some larger glass ones from old supermarket varieties (which are getting dumped today), should I pour the new stuff into the glass or just stick with the plastic jars they came in?
Joined Oct 9, 2002
I too just got started on Vietnamese cinnamon and I love it. Very strong aroma and flavor. I have yet to try some of the others, but this is definitely a keeper.
Joined Jan 24, 2003
Nothing beats spending an afternoon at spicehouse or penzeys.

I really go crazy just around June, when I start rubbing, grilling and smoking more on the grill.

Try Spicehouse's quebec steak mix, my wife loves it.

Vietnamese cinn, works pretty good with savory aspects, I've used to accent moles, but I still prefer whole stick and long simmers for mole sauces. I've thrown Vietnamese in some mediteranean dishes and it works very nice, maybe a little more aromatic, but more delicate.
Joined Jan 24, 2003
hello shimmer,

spices ,

if your fortunate enough to live in an area with an asian or indian population always buy from their shops, the turnover is quick & spices fresher, buy whole spices and roast and grind them yourself. I went to turkey & tunisia and visited the spice markets
it was like an artists pallete of colour & the fragrance was unbeleivable. point is buy small quantities & use real quick.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
Pheobe, I would leave your herbs in the small plastic containers, no science back up just the thought that more air is not a good thing.
I use Cassia and Veitnamese cinnamon.....both are wonderful.
Penzey's are soooo fresh that you gotta watch the amounts of spices/herbs you use cause they are potent.
Joined Mar 12, 2001
I use the Vietnamese cinnamon in baking. Love the dept it gives to baked goods. It really adds flavor to my cream of broccoli soup.
You do, however, have to watch the amount you use. It's stronger than normal.

I was making beer bread and had run out of oregano. I had a small packet I had bought somewhere, so dug it out to use it. After I finished picking out the little bits of stems and junk I swore not to do that again. although the bread turned out well, I felt like i should be appologizing for the spices. Back to Penzeys I went....now if they would just get a shop in the DC area........

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