Keep holiday baking spicy with fresh flavorings
Allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, star anise. There are certain spices that move to the front of our cupboard around the holidays. The bad news is that, if you bought that jar of ground cinnamon more than six months ago, it has lost most of its flavor, which means that coffee cake you always serve on Christmas morning isn't going to taste as good as it should.
Most ground spices are good for only about a year, says Karen Aboussie, who owns the Savory Spice Shop on West Sixth Street, but cinnamon has an even shorter shelf life because it has a low oil content. In their whole form, spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise last much longer than when they are ground.
A trip to the bulk section of your grocery store or a dedicated spice shop will allow you to buy just a little bit of the spices you use only at this time of year. (The same goes for flours, in case you plan on making something like a batch of gluten-free cookies and need only a few cups of specialty flours like those made from almonds or tapioca.)
In most grocery store bulk sections, you can measure out exactly how much you need, no matter how small the amount. At stores like the newly opened Penzeys Spices and both Savory Spice Shop locations, you don't have quite as much control over how little you can buy at a time, but the quality is likely higher.
— Addie Broyles