Spice Drops – Giveaway #47
Spices really are the spice of life, or at least they are in my world. I find it hard to imagine not having a ready supply of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, vanilla and chilli, all spices I use on a regular basis in my baking and cooking. Cumin, coriander and turmeric are firm favourites too, but I have many other spices stuffed away in my cupboard. It is these, other less used spices that can be a bit of a problem. Spices are expensive and once ground, they don’t have a very long shelf life. Ideally, for real freshness and flavour, I would grind all of my spices as I need them, but this just isn’t practical; I’m usually in a hurry and often can’t grind them as finely as I’d like. This results in having to throw some of my precious spices away as they just become to old to use.
Holy Lama have come up with an ingenious solution to this dilemma – spice extracts, or as they like to call them Spice Drops. These are highly concentrated extracts which have a shelf life of three years. Priced at around £3 a bottle, these could cost considerably less than buying whole or ready ground spices over the same time period. The extracts come in little 5 ml bottles with droppers for precise and easy measures. Although the spice drops work well in baking, it is recommended that they are added at the end of cooking where possible to keep the flavours vibrant. As regular readers will know, I like my products to be as natural as possible. The extracts are held in caster oil, which is fine, but I was a little concerned to see it was hydrogenated oil and wonder why this is necessary. However, they are ethically made in Kerala, South India. The company website states it offers fair wages to its staff and fair prices to it’s farmers. Most of the staff are women and many of them are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sustainability is important so the factory’s carbon footprint is deliberately low. Holy Lama is a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers. All that counts for a lot.
The range is quite large and include spice blends as well as individual spices. There are a number of kits containing a collection of relevant spices. I had my eye on the Baker’s Spice Drop Kit, a collection of five spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. However I was only sent a bottle of cinnamon and one of tulsi to try out.
As soon as I unwrapped the outer layer of protective plastic from the cinnamon bottle I nearly swooned with the wonderful scent that emanated from it. I adore cinnamon and if forced into a corner, would probably name it as my favourite spice. One drop is meant to be the equivalent of ½ a teaspoon of the ground spice. I tried a tiny drop neat and it was very strong – not something I’d recommend. I tried it out to good effect in my Spicy Orange and Chocolate Easter Bundt. I used one drop only, hoping to get just a hint of cinnamon and it worked perfectly.
The tulsi I was a little more unsure about. CT and I drink quite a bit of tulsi tea and are accustomed to the flavour. Holy basil, as it’s also known, has a very distinctive taste and although I was keen to try it with chocolate I wasn’t at all sure it would work. I decided to use it first in a cup of hot chocolate, a rich dark drinking chocolate I am currently reviewing. The directions say one drop for every 200ml of liquid or more to taste. I had 250ml of liquid and used only one drop and it was very powerful. I’m not sure I shall be taking to tulsi hot chocolate as a regular drink, but it did sort of work. Like coffee and tea, it has similar bitter notes which marry well together. It was, however, too strong and I was left with a powerful tulsi taste in my mouth for a long time afterwards. So for this extract, I would suggest, proceed with caution.
Thanks to Holy Lama for the spice extracts. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.