Thursday, November 3, 2011


My friend Patty wrote that she'd tried the prize-winning chili recipe except that she didn't have any cumin. She said that when she moved to her new place, she threw out about 5 containers of cumin because she'd never used it.

I told her that my brother Norman and I are the same way as we have numbers of unused bottles of spices and herbs. The difference is: I never throw away anything!

How many times have we used fenugreek, chervil, fennel, coriander and cardamom?
I have all of those spices and I must have used each of them at least once for a recipe; otherwise, why do I have them?

Yesterday, a friend called and asked if I had cardamom because she couldn't find it at any local store. I answered, "Yes, how many teaspoons do you need?"

As we were on the telephone, I stretched the telephone cord across the kitchen and got out the cardamom from the spice drawer. It shows McCormick's "GROUND DECORTICATED CARDAMOM" on the front of the bottle. [What the Hell is "decorticated"? I had to look it up: "to remove the bark, husk or outer layer from; peel".]

I opened the bottle to give it the "sniff test" and it still has an aroma but I couldn't recall how cardamom is supposed to smell! I told my friend I would call her back.

I wondered about the age of the spice; it's in a glass bottle with a green lid and label and with a ship, but my more recent McCormick spices do not have that kind of label but have either leaves or a large McC on the bottles. According to McCormick's information on its website, cardamom is "an aromatic spice with a sweet flavor and is often called The Queen of Spices."

On the back of the bottle of cardamom is written: "Use in Danish Pastry * Buns * Breads * Coffee Cakes * Grape and Plum Jellies * Sliced Oranges * Iced Melon * Fruit Salads * $1.19. * 1 1/8 ounces Net Weight 53.16 grams McCormick & Co., Inc. Baltimore, MD San Francisco, CALIF.* Made in U.S.A."

$1.19? It must be ancient! It must be from when my mother came to make her home with us! The U.S. Postal Service began using the two-letter abbreviations in 1963 but this has MD and CALIF! This bottle might be prior to 1963!

The McCormick Company has a wonderful website and one can enter the code from the bottom of the container to learn how the age of the spice. We checked out several bottles from the drawer and the ages of the spices ranged from 1981 to 1996! All of these bottles have the leaves on the front of the label but there was no code on the bottom of the bottle of cardamom which has a ship logo.

I called the McCormick 800 Customer Service number and the Customer Service Representative is going to research the bottle and e-mail her findings to me! She was astounded by the $1.19 price and said she'd never seen the ship logo. I told her that my mother had a McCormick spice rack with that ship logo on it and I could recall it from my childhood. My sister-in-law Carol now has that spice rack!

I looked on eBay and there were a number of vintage McCormick spice containers and spice racks. However, none has the ship logo!

16 ounces of cardamom (that's the Chef's size!) from McCormick's costs $62.21 (hey, that's less than $4.00 an ounce!); Puritan's Pride has two 1.7 ounce bottles of cardamom for $9.99. I don't think I'll be ordering any!

How many teaspoons will I ever use?


Anonymous said...

I never heard of any of those!

Mary Christie said...

Did you ever find out anything from McCormick? I have a bottle from my mom that says Schilling on the front with the ship logo (same style as pictured) but on the back label it says McCormick & Co, Inc. Baltimore MD 21202.