Make Your Own Homemade Seasonings with These Delicious Spice Blends

Spice blends don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Take a look at these simple yet inventive homemade seasonings you can create with herbs and spices that are easy to grow, dry, and blend at home.

| Fall 2018

  • spices
    Creating homemade mixes of dried herbs and spices is easier than it seems.
    Photo by Getty Images/Ninell_Art

  • spices

If there’s one thing we know about food, it’s that homegrown, homemade dishes are healthier than store-bought varieties — and the satisfaction behind their creation makes them taste better, too. Why not extend that healthfulness as far as you can? Though buying spice blends for your kitchen might appear to be the simplest option, creating homemade mixes of dried herbs and spices is easier than it seems. Most of the ingredients in the following blends can be grown in a backyard garden, and dehydrating simple spices can be a breeze. This do-it-yourself approach reduces unhealthy preservatives in kitchen creations, too! Try out the following ideas to preserve your harvest and experience delicious flavors year-round.

Herbes de Provence

On the southeastern tip of France is an herbal heaven. There, in Provence, an array of summertime herbs grow so fragrant that they even permeate the aroma of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a regional, full-bodied red wine. These herbs can be gathered by the handful and used to impart their distinctive aromas to meats, vegetables, cheeses, soups, and sauces. Because of the region’s proximity to Italy and the Mediterranean, this mix of herbs has a similar aroma to what we think of as Italian seasoning, but don’t be fooled — herbes de Provence contains its own depth of flavor.

The composition of this heady herb blend varies from household to household based on personal preference; it may contain as few as 5 or as many as 11 different herbs. Thyme is always present, and often so are rosemary and savory. The most surprising ingredient is lavender, which was added to the blend for the benefit of foreigners and tourists who saw Provence’s purple-flowered fields as symbolic of the region. Traditional or not, its sweetness brings something special to the other flavors. Indeed, each herb in the blend contributes just the right degree of sweetness or spicy pungency.

Luckily, many of these adaptable herbs are common kitchen staples. By growing your favorites, you can continuously mix all manner of Herbes de Provence blends. 



Chili Powder

The Hungarians claim full-flavored, brilliantly red paprika as their national spice, and for good reason: It adds a unique richness and beauty to many savory dishes, and it gives blends — including chili powder, taco seasoning, and Cajun spices — a kick. The word “paprika” is also used to name the sweet red peppers (Capsicum annuum) that, when dried, are ground to make the spice.

Although these peppers are associated with Eastern Europe, they’re actually New World natives. When searching for spice trade routes, Christopher Columbus gathered a variety of red peppers that he brought back to Spain. By the late 16th century, the Portuguese and Spaniards were growing these peppers and making what came to be known as paprika. It was the Hungarians, however, who elevated the crimson spice to its current status. The lower classes added paprika to their soups as a substitute for costly black pepper. By the mid-1880s, all of Hungary had embraced it.






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