Creating your own special spice mixes allows you to tailor them to your particular tastes and magical needs. It also helps build your intuitive relationship with these plant allies. While grinding and blending and smelling and tasting, you will learn more about the herbs and spices in your cupboard than you will ever learn from a book.
Prepping Your Herbs and Spices
I prefer to use whole herbs in my preparations, rather than purchasing them pre-ground because I enjoy the process of preparing them and I believe they taste and smell much better freshly ground. Also, I grow many of my own herbs and this necessitates processing anyway.
Some spices, like nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon, I do purchase online because it is the best way I have found to get fresh, whole herbs instead of pre-ground herbs. It is not hard to find cinnamon sticks in the grocery store, but if you are at all picky about your cinnamon, then you are out of luck. I have never been able to find whole cardamom in the store and I found whole nutmeg once. And they come in such tiny packages. Apparently, the average person does not use spices like I do.
Luckily, all of these are available in bulk at online at stores such as Starwest Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs.
Processing Fruits and Roots
Peppers are fruit and tend to have fleshy and seedy bits. Roots are even more fleshy and juicy, these include garlic and onions.
These must be dried completely before adding to a spice mix. I like to slice them as thin as possible and put them on my food dehydrator to dry. If you don’t have a food processer, use a cooling rack on a cookie sheet inside a very low oven, as low as it can go (about 180 degrees Fahrenheit). If you have an oven fan, use that. Otherwise, leave your oven door open just a bit for circulation. Dry them until they are crisp. I can’t tell you how long this will take because it depends on the thickness of the herb, your humidity, the temperature, air circulation, etc. Just keep checking every 6 hours or so to see how they are doing.
I like to roast my paprika peppers before drying them, but I suspect they’d work just as well if I didn’t. Thin-walled fruit, like cayenne peppers and some rose hips can be dried on a string. I just thread a needle and string them like beads, putting a knot on either side of each one to keep each piece in its place.
Once your fruits and roots are dried crisp, you can break them into even smaller pieces and grind them in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. Clove buds, though they come already dried, fall into this category.
For lemon, lime or orange zest, you will want to use your fine grater to grate just the colored bit of the (well washed and dried) skin off the fruit and then spread it on parchment paper or a silpat in as thin a layer as you can manage and place it in a low oven for several hours or until the bits are crispy.
Processing Large Nuts and Barks
Herbs like nutmeg and cinnamon tend to be too large to grind and too hard to crush. These can be grated using a nutmeg grater or the smallest holes on a box grater.
Mustard seeds, cumin, anise and fennel are some seeds that need to be ground up for use. These I like to grind in my mortar and pestle and then sift through a sieve. Whatever the sieve catches I will grind again. You can also use a coffee grinder if you prefer.
Processing Leaves and Flowers
Leaves and flowers also need to be dried before they are used in herbal and spice mixes. I do not like to put these in the dehydrator unless they are very thick because their oils tend to be very delicate. I like to hang them in a dark place in my home to dry slowly and this usually doesn’t take more than a week or two. They should be crisp and crumble easily in your fingers when they are done.
If you are mixing these with other leaves and flowers for a spice mix, you can just crumble them into little bits, but if you are blending these with powdered seeds, nuts, barks, roots, fruits, etc. you will want to grind your leaves and flowers into a powder as well. This will ensure everything blends evenly. A mortar and pestle is your friend here.
Blending Your Herbal Powders
Each of your herbs and spices should be prepared individually while thinking about the magical qualities you wish to spotlight in your herbal mixture. Once each has been prepped, set it aside and begin the next until you’ve finished them all. Finally, combine them all in a single container and stir them with a wooden spoon, or your wand if you like, in a clockwise direction thinking about all of their energies blending together. Finally, pour the lot into a jar that you have already labeled. Use a funnel to help you not make a mess doing this! Seal your jar and give it a good shake to make sure all the flavors are blended and the energy is activated.
Storing Your Herbal Powders
The flavor, energy, and fragrance of these herbs immediately begin to fade once they have been crushed or ground. Plastic can absorb these flavors, so it’s better to use glass to store them. Light and heat can also speed up the degradation of the fragrance and flavors of these herbs. So keep them in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Some Traditional Mixes to Start With
Choosing herbs that complement and enhance each other energetically is a long-standing tradition for spellwork. But unlike powders that are meant to be used in spells, added to mojo bags, or sprinkled on the ground, spice mixes are meant to be consumed, so flavor must be taken into account as well. Learning which flavors blend well is a skill that takes time and experience and there is no better way to gain this experience than by using classic pairings as a guide. While any of these mixes can be purchased pre-made from the grocery store, making them yourself will infuse your own energy into them and help you form a personal connection with these plants that will strengthen your magical and culinary skills. As you get to know your spices, you can tailor your mixes to your own tastes and truly make them your own.
(AKA gather the family in a safe place to make happy memories seasoning)
2 parts Rosemary
2 parts Marjoram
1 part Oregano
1 part Garlic powder
Many mixtures also include basil. I don’t find dried basil to be particularly tasty, so I do not include it. Fresh basil is best.
(AKA “Cozy and comforted” seasoning)
10 parts salt
1 part onion powder
2 parts black pepper
1 part garlic powder
4 parts paprika
(AKA “No bad energy” seasoning)
2 Parts Lemon Zest
3 Parts black pepper
1 Part Salt
(AKA “Banish Bad Vibes” Powder)
1 part Chili pepper or cayenne or any combination to taste
3 parts Paprika
3 parts Oregano
2 part Cumin
1 part Garlic powder
1 part Onion powder
1 part Black pepper
(AKA “Safe space for serious talks”)
1 part Garlic
2 parts Salt
2 parts Sage
1 part Thyme
1 part black Pepper
.5 part Celery Seed
(AKA “Let’s sort this out” seasoning)
2 parts Salt
1 part paprika
1 part oregano
1 part cayenne pepper (or another chili to taste)
1 part black pepper
1 part garlic powder
1 part thyme
.5 part celery seed (optional)
(AKA Luck and Abundance!)
3 parts cinnamon
1 part cloves
1 part nutmeg
2 parts ginger
5 Spice Powder
(AKA “No nasty gossip at this table, thank you very much.”)
2 part Peppercorns
1 part Anise
1 part Cloves
3 parts Cinnamon
3 parts Fennel
Ranch Dressing Mix
(AKA For Loving Chats about Serious Stuff)
1 part Chives
1 part Parsley
1 part Onion
1 part Paprika
1 part Dill