Let’s dive into the sweet and savory world of spices! We’re here to introduce you to new ways to use them and how to get the most out of them in the kitchen. So whether you’re wondering if allspice is really a blend of all the other ones or if cinnamon can be used in anything other than desserts, we’ve got the friendly guide to spices you’ve been looking for. Here’s everything you need to know about the most common spices for cooking and baking you’ll see fall recipes and winter recipes call for.
What is it? The dried unripe fruit of a tree native to the Caribbean and Central America
Why should I use it? Allspice, as its name suggests, magically encapsulates the flavor of other spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. It accentuates desserts like pies but it’s also amazing in meat marinades or roasts.
What does it pair well with? Cinnamon, cloves, garlic, pork, beef, squash
Tip: Whole allspice berries are more fragrant, last longer, and work best for braises and sauces. Ground allspice is easier to use for baking.
What is it? The dried bark of a tree native to Southeast Asia
Why should I use it? We all love cinnamon for its magical ability to make fruits and baked goods taste sweeter.
What does it pair well with? Apples, chocolate, almonds, raisins, cardamom, cloves, vanilla
What is it? The dried flower bud of a tall tree native to a few volcanic islands off the coast of Indonesia
Why should I use it? Cloves add a bittersweet and earthy bass note to sweet and savory dishes, and beverages too! They’re also very potent, so a little bit goes a long way, making them the perfect spice for food waste warriors and frugal cooks alike.
What does it pair well with? Apples, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, orange honey, nutmeg, pork, wine
Tip: Cloves have a ton of volatile oil that can easily overpower a dish if you’re not careful, so use them sparingly, especially whole cloves. Try adding a small amount to your next batch of pickles!
What is it? The dried seed of a tree native to the same islands in Indonesia where cloves come from
What does it pair well with? Cheese, cream, potatoes, pasta, spinach, rice, white pepper
Tip: While nutmeg is often used only for desserts, try using it to flavor savory dishes like braised chard or roasted squash!
What is it? The dried fruit of a tree native to Vietnam and Southwest China
Why should I use it? Star anise brings a bittersweet fennel flavor that simultaneously makes fruit taste sweeter and makes vegetables like onions taste more savory. It’s a truly magical spice that’s equally at home in stir fries and braised meat dishes (it’s heavenly with pork) as it is in mulled cider or in a wintry pear dish.
What does it pair well with? Cinnamon, ginger, pears, oranges, maple syrup, pork
Tip: Add star anise near the beginning of the cooking process so its flavor can bloom into the dish as it cooks!
Pumpkin Pie Spice:
What is it? A blend of spices signifying fall that’s commonly used in tasty baked goods and Instagrammable lattes. While the composition varies, it’s almost always a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
Why should I use it? Pumpkin pie spice adds that unmistakable zing of fall to whatever you’re making. Since it’s actually several spices blended into one, it’s a good one to have around as you head into baking season. You can also easily make your own!
What does it pair well with? Butter, cream, coconut milk, pumpkin, rum
We can’t wait to see what you create with your Imperfect fall spices! Tag us in your creations @imperfectfoods.