Have you ever gone to the store to buy a particular spice and were shocked at the price? Spices can get expensive – especially if they are organic – and making your own is more economical. It also makes your house smell really good!

First, it's a good idea to reiterate that spices are not necessarily the same as herbs.

Spices are usually made from seeds or fruits of plants, while generally speaking herbs are leaves, stems, or blooms. Roots cross over into both categories sometimes, as with ginger.

What Do You Need to Make Your Own Dried Spices?

There are some basic things you'll need to be successful at making your own dried spices. You'll need:



* Glass containers, such as used spice containers or vitamin bottles (washed of course)
* Grinder, such as a coffee grinder
* Rice – you'll need to grind plain uncooked rice in the grinder periodically to clean it between spices (and if you want to use it for coffee again!).
* Ascorbic acid – you can find this at most health food stores in powder form. You might find it near the sprouting supplies; it's usually not very expensive.
* Fresh spices for drying

What Kind of Seeds/Fruits/Roots Can I Use?

If you have access to them, there are all kinds of plant spices you can use. A popular first one to start with is ginger root. Here are some other suggestions:

* Citrus peel
* Onion
* Garlic
* Hot peppers such as cayenne, seeds removed (you can save and dry the seeds for topping pizza and other foods)
* Celery seeds (celery can be grown in your garden)
* Mustard seeds (mustard is also easy to grow)
* Dill seeds (another garden favorite)

Method

To dry these plant parts for grinding, slice onions, garlic and ginger very thinly and dry in a low oven or on a drying rack/screen. You can also use an electric dehydrator. The seeds should also be dried in the air for a few days before grinding.

For hot peppers, you'll need to remove the seeds first (wear gloves!) and dry your peppers in low oven or, if you have it, an adobe stove. You can also string peppers on thread to dry them before grinding.

Storage

Use your airtight containers and jars to store your spices, either whole or pre-ground. Some people prefer to keep spices whole until used to retain optimal flavor. You can also give these as gifts – people appreciate them, and they are affordable to give!

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