Fall Flavors Have Officially Taken Over
If you’ve visited any retail store within the last three weeks, you may have noticed that fall has (not so subtly) taken over. The days of watermelon and fresh berries have ended, only to be replaced by apple, caramel, and the reigning champion, pumpkin spice. While I fully support loading up on fall flavors the day they hit the shelves, there’s a fall staple you may not want to buy: a jar of pumpkin spice. What could be so bad about a jar of seasonings? It has nothing to do with the quality but everything with the price.
Pumpkin Spice Has a Hefty Price Tag
The spice aisle can be packed with savings if you’re trying to save money or groceries. Even though spices may be used sparingly, their cost can add up over time, especially if you don’t compare unit pricing. Depending on the type of spice and brand, the prices can sometimes soar to over a hundred dollars a pound! You can lower the unit price by comparing brands and package sizes. That will be easy for basic herbs like basil, nutmeg, or pepper. But you may not have many options for blends, including pumpkin spice.
When options are limited, you have two options: Do you pay for the convenience? Or do you want to invest in the individual ingredients and blend them at home? To help you make that decision, let’s cover what’s in pumpkin spice.
What's In Pumpkin Spice?
Pumpkin spice is traditionally a blend of four spices, but I add a fifth. If you like to bake from scratch, you likely have most (if not all) of the spices needed at home. The spices used are:
- Cinnamon is the star of pumpkin spice and provides the sweet, woody, and spicy flavor that every Fall dish craves.
- Ginger is a root with spicy, sweet, and woody notes. It also has a zestier flavor, providing a citrusy aromatic.
- If cinnamon and pepper could have a lovechild, it would be nutmeg. Nutmeg is a seed that has a warm and sweet flavor with nutty undertones. It has a peppery aroma that can stimulate your senses and make dishes shine.
- Clove is the spice that packs the most punch in this recipe and is added in the smallest amount because of the punch. Clove has a spicy and aromatic flavor with subtle notes of sweetness.
- Allspice has a flavor with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It may seem redundant, but it binds the flavors together and adds an extra layer of spice. Leave allspice out if you want to stick to the four core ingredients. If you exclude it, add more cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove so the ginger doesn’t overpower the blend.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice
- 2 ½ Tbsp cinnamon (two tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons)
- 2 tsp. ginger
- 1 ¼ tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- ¾ tsp. ground clove
- Combine all of the ingredients and stir to combine.
- Transfer to an air-tight container and store in a cool, dry area away from sunlight.
Pumpkin Spice Storage and Recipe Notes
Once blended, transfer your pumpkin spice blend to a container with an air-tight seal and store it out of direct sunlight. This will help preserve the freshness and flavor. Dried spices can last anywhere from 1 to 4 years, depending on how they’re stored. I will discard and replace spices if I notice signs of moisture buildup, caking, or a loss of flavor.
Pumpkin Spice Uses in Recipes
Once you have a jar of pumpkin spice, whether store-bought or homemade, it’s time to take advantage of the flavors! It’s a spice blend that shouldn’t be limited to baking and can be used in various recipes to boost the flavor. Some ideas include:
- Add a light dusting to pancakes and waffles to take their flavor to the next level.
- Give your morning coffee or tea a boost of fall flavors with a dash of pumpkin spice. It also tastes amazing in hot cocoa!
- Sprinkle some over your overnight oats, parfaits, and smoothies for warmth and spice.
- Pumpkin pie is a given, but try adding it to apple pie, pecan pie, or even dusted over ice cream!