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Is there any good place to shop for spices in the DC area? I know some people get their spices mail order from Penzys. I just ordered some paprika from a place called Spice House International and will see how that goes. I mean, $5 for a whole pound of Spanish smoked paprika: how can I go wrong, if it is not good, I'm only out $5 (plus shipping).

What other resources are out there?

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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Is there any good place to shop for spices in the DC area?  I know some people get their spices mail order from Penzys.  I just ordered some paprika from a place called Spice House International and will see how that goes.  I mean, $5 for a whole pound of Spanish smoked paprika: how can I go wrong, if it is not good, I'm only out $5 (plus shipping).

What other resources are out there?

You've probably already tried it, but Dean & Deluca has some ok dried spices. I really like Penzeys though, and coincidentally just ordered their Smoked Spanish Paprika. We'll have to compare.

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I generally go to an Indian store to get most of my spices. They generally have quick turnover of their stock and cheap prices. There was one right at the cusp of Ballston that had great deals. Unfortunatly the last time I went to pick-up some pepper not only was the store gone, but so was the whole damned building. :lol: Now I have to find a new place to shop.

When I lived in MoCo I would go to an Indian store on 355 right by Montgomery College in Rockville.

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What other resources are out there?
You could consider checking out the bulk-container aisle at local food co-ops and natural foods stores to verify quality and gauge turnover. I love Penzeys, but obviously there are circumstances where you can't or don't want to wait for things to be shipped. If you don't want to have to deal with the little plastic bags at home or bother coming up with your own containers (recycled or otherwise), it might not be worth it to you.

I thought the spices at my Takoma co-op were usually fresh and a bargain, especially because I could buy only what I needed for one recipe, the next ___ months, etc., and if something smelled off I'd know before having to purchase it. Prices were the same for members and non-members. In contrast, I've avoided the bulk aisle at the Silver Spring Whole Foods because I never saw people stopping to get anything; they just seemed to hurry through with their carts.

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Surprisingly or not surprisingly, I find some great deals on spices at Cost Plus World Market. I've been able to find good saffron, cardamom seeds, dried chiles, bay leaves, etc. there at decent prices. I'm always surprised that they carry stuff like Vegemite, Marmite, european mustards and Indian pickles, seasoning such as thai curry pastes and Maggi, in addition to japanese nori and wasabi. The only downside is that they're not always well-stocked with the stuff.

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The Bethesda Co-op (6500 Seven Locks Road in Cabin John) has been selling a large variety of bulk spices for years, and the heavy turnover ensures freshness. Their prices are very gentle, and the staff is accomodating. Try their Thai spice mix if you enjoy heat-- it will induce tears when you bag it.

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Speaking of spices, what's the best way to keep spices fresh for the longest amount of time? Glass jar? Baggie inside baggie? Freezer?

I don't usually buy in bulk, but I may be headed off to Zanzibar next month, and it just seems silly to return without my suitcase packed full and stinky with cloves, nutmeg, and cardomom!

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Speaking of spices, what's the best way to keep spices fresh for the longest amount of time? Glass jar? Baggie inside baggie? Freezer?

I don't usually buy in bulk, but I may be headed off to Zanzibar next month, and it just seems silly to return without my suitcase packed full and stinky with cloves, nutmeg, and cardomom!

I use glass jars and the freezer. Works very well to keep my spices potent.

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RE: Indian Spices and Appliances (Ballston)...when they closed (because of said building being torn down) they were going to reopen at the same location, in about a year they said...who knows if that is still true...and I can't remember if that was a year or more ago! I hope they do reopen because I love that store, great selection of Indian stuff and the homemade samosa and breads kick butt.

The Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe place on Pickett Street by Duke Street and 395 sells spices...not sure on the quality...but you can always find something yummy to buy there!

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I use glass jars and the freezer. Works very well to keep my spices potent.
I do that also and it works great.
RE: Indian Spices and Appliances (Ballston)...when they closed (because of said building being torn down) they were going to reopen at the same location, in about a year they said...who knows if that is still true...and I can't remember if that was a year or more ago! I hope they do reopen because I love that store, great selection of Indian stuff and the homemade samosa and breads kick butt.

The Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe place on Pickett Street by Duke Street and 395 sells spices...not sure on the quality...but you can always find something yummy to buy there!

There are quite a few Indian stores in the area that stock phenomal spices at great prices. In Fairfax, there is one at the shopping center besides Expo Design. I know quite a few more, but am running out the door. I will edit post later tonight.
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Where do places buy their spices and dried herbs down here? More specifically I'm looking for stuff like ancho chili, chipotle, and chile de arbol powders. The ones in the grocery stores look so unappealing (and yes I know I could make my own chili powders....but I'd rather find a place in DC that carries it).

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Where do places buy their spices and dried herbs down here? More specifically I'm looking for stuff like ancho chili, chipotle, and chile de arbol powders. The ones in the grocery stores look so unappealing (and yes I know I could make my own chili powders....but I'd rather find a place in DC that carries it).
If you're OK with leaving DC, try Penzey's on Route 7 in Falls Church.
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You know, I've been doing the Penzey's on 355 in Rockville. I'm just not seeing that their spices are so much better that it's worth the extra trip for me, although the staff is very nice. You can mail order their stuff, if you have a real jones for one of their mixes.

While I'm sure the spices are better than the stufff that's been on the shelves in normal grocery stores, if you have to make a big effort to get there, I'd try something more local or go ahead and do their mail order.

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You know, I've been doing the Penzey's on 355 in Rockville. I'm just not seeing that their spices are so much better that it's worth the extra trip for me, although the staff is very nice. You can mail order their stuff, if you have a real jones for one of their mixes.

While I'm sure the spices are better than the stufff that's been on the shelves in normal grocery stores, if you have to make a big effort to get there, I'd try something more local or go ahead and do their mail order.

I am not sure that I would say that it is better than some of the top of the line McCormick stuff, but it is a whole hell of a lot cheaper.

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Where do places buy their spices and dried herbs down here? More specifically I'm looking for stuff like ancho chili, chipotle, and chile de arbol powders. The ones in the grocery stores look so unappealing (and yes I know I could make my own chili powders....but I'd rather find a place in DC that carries it).
For spices in general, previous discussion here.

Chiles de Arbol thread here.

Chipotle thread here.

:lol:

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Where do places buy their spices and dried herbs down here? More specifically I'm looking for stuff like ancho chili, chipotle, and chile de arbol powders. The ones in the grocery stores look so unappealing (and yes I know I could make my own chili powders....but I'd rather find a place in DC that carries it).
You cook? When did that happen? Who's the girl :lol:
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I've just moved into a new apartment, and because of various international incidents, have to rebuild my pantry, and my spice cabinet, from scratch. I bought my bare basics--pepper, cardamom, curry powder, oregano, and garlic powder--but I'm wondering what tack to take on the rest. On the one hand, spices go stale, so I perhaps should just buy them as needed, it would also be a huge outlay of cash to buy all 20 or so that I see as "basics," and I have limited storage space. But on the other, I tend to cook on the spur of the moment, and with erratic, unrelated themes, and have been thwarted more than a few times lately because my cupboard is so bare, resorting to ordering in more often than I like to admit.

What to do, what to do...

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I've just moved into a new apartment, and because of various international incidents, have to rebuild my pantry, and my spice cabinet, from scratch. I bought my bare basics--pepper, cardamom, curry powder, oregano, and garlic powder--but I'm wondering what tack to take on the rest. On the one hand, spices go stale, so I perhaps should just buy them as needed, it would also be a huge outlay of cash to buy all 20 or so that I see as "basics," and I have limited storage space. But on the other, I tend to cook on the spur of the moment, and with erratic, unrelated themes, and have been thwarted more than a few times lately because my cupboard is so bare, resorting to ordering in more often than I like to admit.

What to do, what to do...

Dryspice.com sells the little silica gel canisters that come in pill bottles to absorb the moisture that makes spices go stale. I use them and my spices still maintain their aroma and potency for about 16 months.
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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

Is there a Yes near you? Sniff before buying since some spices do not sell as quickly as others.

Also check topics on ethnic (e.g. Indian) grocery stores.

ETA: Anyone here belong to food co-ops?

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ETA: Anyone here belong to food co-ops?

When I first moved here, I looked into one, and I even have a contact number for someone, although it may not work any more. I was in a great co-op in Gainesville, Florida. A whole lot of grad students got together and bought copious quantities of beans, brown rice, and Celestial Seasonings tea. At that time, it was difficult to find many things in the grocery stores. I didn't move on one here because it's so easy to find everything I want.

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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

The Adventist Bookstore in Cherry Hill might. I remember they had a lot of bulk grains and dried fruits, but call ahead. http://www.potomacabc.com/index.asp
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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

I'm not familiar with NoVa outlets for these, but the Bethesda Co-op, which is an easy run across either the Chain Bridge or American Legion in Cabin John has an active bulk spice section, and their prices are modest. http://www.bethesdacoop.org/

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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

Try Bethesda Co-op Natural Food Market (301) 320-2530 - 6500 Seven Locks Road - Cabin John, MD 20818 (At MacArthur Boulevard).
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The Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe place on Pickett Street by Duke Street and 395 sells spices...not sure on the quality...but you can always find something yummy to buy there!

Second the Mediterranean Bakery. One whole aisle of spices.

Spices of Asia recently opened on Backlick Road in Springfield, a few doors down from Delia's. Very good selection and lots of turnover.

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Are there any stores around that sell bulk spices? The Whole Foods where I used to live (Hadley, MA) had about 60 spices in bulk bins, which was great because it was cheaper and you could buy only what you needed. Looking for something like that, preferably in NoVA. Thanks.

MOM's has a large selection of bulk spices. They always seem to have the random thing that I only need a little bit of for a recipe. They've also been helpful about checking what they have in stock when I've called ahead.
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If it's chiles and chile powders you're after, you might try Native Seeds

http://www.nativeseeds.org/ (Click on Store, then Food).

Many years ago, Susan Belsinger (cookbook author) recommended them during a class at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda.

In their own words, here's what they're about: "Native Seeds/SEARCH (Southwestern Endangered Aridlands Resource Clearing House) conserves, distributes, and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and Northwest Mexico." So, you're also doing good as you order from them.

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Has anyone checked out The Spice and Tea Exchange, recently opened in Old Town Alexandria across from the Market Square? Seems to be a franchise operation originating out of Florida.

There's one in Charleston, SC, and I go there every time I visit my parents, and their merchandise is fantastic. The owner of that store is absolutely on top of her inventory; I can't speak to anywhere else, but I love the Charleston store.

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