Why are whole spices better than pre-ground spices?

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Pre-ground spices are very popular because they’re convenient.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that convenience can come at the cost of flavor.

The problem is that spices lose their potency faster the more they’re exposed to air.  When you take a spice and grind it, you’re dramatically increasing its surface area, and therefore the amount of exposure.  Add to this the fact that supermarket spices often sit on shelves for a long time before being purchased, and you’ve got a good idea of what you’re really giving up when you reach for that pre-ground nutmeg. 

In fact, some spices like allspice and nutmeg begin to lose flavor minutes after being ground or grated, so you should always buy whole allspice and whole nutmeg.  Try the the pregrated stuff side by side with some you’ve just grated yourself, and you’ll notice a big difference.

Finally, when spices have been pre-ground you can’t tell what quality they were to begin with.  Buying whole spices allows you to be sure you’re getting the good stuff.

Working with whole spices is easier than you think.  Read how to grind whole spices for directions.

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