Even if you do not cook or bake much, there are certain spices that, in my opinion, can find a useful place in every kitchen. These are what I would call the “Must Have” Kitchen Spices. I am sure these would be different according to individual tastes and cultures. But, as a stay-at-home-mother, country girl, steak-and-potatoes lover who loves to cook and bake, these are my “must haves” spices.
The Bare Bones
There are 5 spices that I would consider the “bare bones” of your spice cabinet. So if you have just moved out on your own for the first time, recently married, or off to college, these are the minimum spices I would suggest for building your pantry, or spice stash:
I know, duh. But salt is important for health. your body needs salt to support a healthy balance of electrolytes for overall well being, muscle function and more. Not to mention flavor! I would encourage you to research on your own sea salts and Himalayan salts. They are better for you than the salt made in the labs, even with added iodine. A good quality, pure salt is better than table salt, which often contains anticaking additives. I personally use Himalayan salt. If you are concerned about iodine, you can always make sure you are including other iodine rich foods into your diet. Foods like blackstrap molasses(Yum!), seafood, chicken, organ meats, green beans, kale and more.
Black pepper is not only a delicious spice to give life to a bland dish, but it also contains manganese, which is needed for the body to form collagen, heal wounds, and bone support.
Garlic powder is essential in my book! Who doesn’t love garlic? I always have fresh and powdered garlic on hand. I do not use garlic salt, as I could always just sprinkle on salt in addition to garlic powder. Using garlic in your food is a good way to get the added benefits of its antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic properties. Garlic has been used in traditional medicine to fight illnesses, including Tuberculosis. It is still being studied as a possible treatment against various illnesses compared to drugs such as amoxicillin. It is also a key ingredient in Fire Cider, a natural remedy for colds, viruses and more. Click here for my Fire Cider Recipe.
Once again, I keep both fresh and powdered onion on hand. What a simple, easy way to add a wonderful pop of flavor to a dish! Sometimes when I’m strapped for time and just need to get a meal on the table fast, and I don’t have time to peel and chop onions, I simply sprinkle on some onion power. Similar to garlic, onions have antibacterial and antiviral properties. They also contain the cancer fighting compound quercetin. They have many other benefits as well. So don’t forget your onions!
Does it count as one seasoning if you can get it in a single jar? For the sake of this post I’m going to say “yes”, ha, ha. With an Italian blend you can spruce up a good number of many different meals. From steamed veggies, to meats, soups, sauces and more. Italian seasoning is a “Must Have” Kitchen Spices for sure! When I can tomato sauce in the Summer, I just make a plain tomato sauce. That way I can season it to my liking for each dish I make. It makes the canning process a little simpler, and the sauce more diverse possibilities. In most cases, I just add Italian seasoning and some olive oil to a jar of sauce, warm it in a saucepan and voila, spaghetti sauce! If you are interested in my tomato sauce canning recipe you can find that here.
I really enjoy soups and stews. So I would be amiss not to mention Bay leaf. Bay leaf is such a nice addition to your spice collection because of the pepper/oregano/mint-like flavor it gives your foods. It contains various vitamins, and can also be used as a tea to relieve upset stomach. It can really bring life to an otherwise bland dish.
The key to good flavors is not just in having the right spices, but also fresh spices. I’m telling you-if you have never tried freshly cracked black pepper, freshly ground salt or vibrant, jarred seasonings, you my friend, are missing out! Give the fresh salt and pepper grinders a try-I bet you won’t go back. And when shopping for spices, look at the jars and compare the jar on the front of the shelf to the color of the spices in the jar on the back. Sometimes, especially with less frequently used spices, you can see a discrepancy in the color of the spices, with the ones in the back looking much brighter than the ones on the front of the shelf.
From this bare bones list you can (and should) branch out, gathering things like chili powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, thyme, fennel, and so on. If you don’t like to cook or are diehard minimalist, then the bare bones would probably be enough for you. I personally love to cook and like variety. I hope you have enjoyed this post on “Must Have” Kitchen Spices. Take care and God bless.