Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can I Soften Hardened Powdered Seasonings.

I was recently asked this interesting question....


"I left my home for about 4 months. When I returned many of my powdered seasonings had hardened. Onion powder, garlic powder. Is there a way to soften them or do I have to throw them out?"

First let me say that I have at least 6 cooking encyclopedias sitting on my bookshelf and I did a google search. Lots of places tell you how to soften brown sugar and regular sugar for that matter. I even shared a tip from Norene Gilletz and a couple from Waitrose...
...but nowhere do any of the experts tell you what to do with hardened powdered seasonings. So here's my two cents worth...and we all know what that buys these days.

If I have clumps in my mixed seasonings, I place it in a small tea strainer over a bowl. If it's a hard block...you might need to chip it out of the bottle with a small sharp knife.

That said, I must say that I do agree with all the experts...spices lose their potency and flavor over time.. everyone suggests marking the date on your spices when you buy them and throw them out after a year.

The other thing I suggest is to "toast" your spices before using them (even ground ones). Use a nonstick skillet/ fry pan..and over medium heat toast your spices, shaking the pan occasionally until you can sniff the fragrance....just takes a few minutes.

Of course the best way to get the most out of your spices is to buy them whole in small batches that you can keep in an airtight container and grind just what you need for any given recipe. The difference in flavor that this little effort makes will amaze you. I use my KitchenAid coffee grinder, because you can take it apart easily to clean. We wouldn't want coffee smelling like cumin or cumin flavoring our coffee for that matter.


Those were my attempts at helping out...now I turn to you for advise. Any tips on softening hard seasoning powders?


Just add them to the comments and I'll update the post.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your advice. I have some (very) hardened spices & while I don't want to use them due to their age, I DO want to reuse the glass containers they are in. I tried chipping away with a knife, but to no avail. Anyone have any other ideas?
Thanks!

Ruth Daniels said...

Great question. Try putting a little water (tablespoon or so) in the jar and microwave it for 45 seconds. That should loosen things up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I tried that right after I posted my question & felt silly for asking. Of course water disolved it & did the trick. :)

Ruth Daniels said...

Just goes to show...great minds think alike ;-)

Thanks for letting us all know it worked.

holeinonefour said...

hmmm I'm going to try something right now. I'm not ready to throw them out. I am going to put a container of water in the microsave and set the seasoning jar in there also. I'll see if they softened. If not out they go. You can stab yourself trying to dig them out with knife or icepick. LOL

Ruth Daniels said...

Stabbing is not recommended ;-0 !

Please let us know if the microwave idea works. We all run into this problem at some point in time.

DL said...

I have hardened Gatorade powder. Any suggestions?

Thanks

Ruth Daniels said...

DL I don't have a definitive answer, but I'd try to put the Gatorade powder in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds. Hopefully it's not in a metal container or that you can at least get a clump out and place in a dish. Cover it so it can "steam". Let me know if it works.

Terrell said...

This is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

put chunks on a flat surface (plate) and press down on the chunks with a spoon or flat side of a knife