Can you imagine eating a diet of bland white rice and tasteless pinto beans? I can’t, but a lot of preppers who are stocking up on those two staples, among others, seem to be setting themselves up for multiple meals of monotone flavor. Personally, I like to use a lot of spice when I cook and have been stocking up accordingly.
My Macho Mexican Rice is a good example of taking a staple ingredient, adding a few ingredients from your food storage and ending up with a dish that’s anything but boring. If you were relying on your food storage, this recipe would even make a great main dish with a handful of chicken or pork. The combination of spices is what makes the difference. I have a great recipe for fried rice that I really should write up one of these days soon.
Basic spices that should be in your storage pantry, as well as in your kitchen for daily use, are basil, garlic powder, minced onion, chili powder, ground cinnamon, dill weed, ground ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, thyme, and vanilla extract. I don’t know about you, but these, along with cumin, are the spices I reach for time and again. If Mexican food is your thing, you’ll want to include cumin and cilantro, and Italian lovers will find they also need Italian Seasoning and perhaps fennel and crushed red pepper. If there are certain canning recipes you use regularly, be sure to include those spices in your stash as well. Check out Spice Advice for lots more information.
Spring is right around the corner, and the time will be right for planting herbs. All of the spices we use in our every day cooking begin life as beautiful herb plants and are then harvested and dried. There’s nothing in that process that you can’t do yourself. In fact, most herbs dry so quickly, you don’t even need an official dehydrator. Simply spread your herbs on a cookie sheet and place them in a 200 degree oven. When the individual herb leaves are crispy, they’re done. Store in an airtight container, and for long-term storage, add an oxygen absorber.
You can buy spices in bulk online, but if you’re going to be planting your own herb garden, check out Seed Savers for a great selection of heirloom seeds.
Considering that hundreds of years ago spices were nearly as valuable as gold, the time may come when a packet of basil may be something worth bartering for. The herb garden you plant today could become a source of income tomorrow!