Unfortunately, clumped-up spices are a typical irritant that troubles many home cooks. The question is, why does this occur and what can you do to prevent it from happening?
How can I prevent the spices from forming clumps? The easiest approach to prevent your spices from becoming clumpy is to store them in an airtight container away from any sources of moisture. The accumulation of moisture will gradually bind the spices together, which will cause them to become more stable. To further improve your overall experience with the product, we suggest that you replace the shaker cap with an airtight cover.
Why Do Spices Clump Together?
The answer to this question should focus on the “how” rather than the “why.” Once you have an understanding of how clumping occurs in spices, you are able to apply that knowledge to any powdered food!
If you were to point the finger at just one thing, it would be dampness as the cause of clumping.
Even though it can’t be seen, moisture is present all around us, and it can have a devastating impact on fine powders such as spices and seasoning mixes if it gets into them.
If you look at a seasoning via a microscope, you will see that it is composed of extremely tiny particles that resemble crystals and that are stacked one on top of the other with very minute spaces in between. These spaces are what allow the powder to continue to flow easily.
But as soon as the powder is exposed to moisture, such as when the container is shaken over a pot that is heating, the water molecules fill up these gaps and trigger disintegration, which links the particles together.
When using less intense lighting, you may only be able to make out single clumps in various regions of the spice (mostly around the surface). However, over the course of time, as more and more water molecules fill the space, the spices will finally become more stable and solid.
However, the pace at which individual spices clump together is largely determined by the kind of ingredient used.
For instance, garlic and onion powders are infamous for clumping together, but other spices, such as red chili powder, tend to clump together at a far slower pace.
The Function That Anti-Caking Agents Play
When talking about various types of commercial components, you could have read or heard this word. Anti-caking agents are either components that absorb excess moisture or chemicals that coat the materials to make them more water-resistant. Both types of anti-caking agents are referred to together as “anti-caking agents.”
Complaints about clumped-up spices were quite prevalent in the beginning. In fact, they were so widespread that they ultimately damaged people’s perceptions of powdered items.
People began to believe that brands that clumped together were of a worse quality; however, the issue was not with the product’s quality but rather with how they were stored.
If powders are not kept correctly, moisture will always find a way to seep inside and get combined with the powder.
Even if the spices are stored in an airtight container, clumping may still occur if a few fundamental best practices are ignored, and this is especially true if you live in a very humid region.
Anti-caking chemicals have been added to manufacturers’ spices as a response to this problem by those producers.
There are more than 18 distinct kinds of anti-caking agents, however, only a few of them are used in the food industry. Some of them find further use in the cosmetics and other industrial product sectors as well.
In the realm of food, sodium aluminosilicate is the material of choice for a great deal of the powders that are used in the preparation of food, including spices.
The problem is, your body does not need the anti-caking compounds since they are chemicals. In other words, you should make every effort to steer clear of them whenever it is feasible!
You should be allowed to choose what you put into your body in a more health-conscious environment, even though the vast majority of food-grade agents have received approval from a variety of health organizations.
Therefore, what can you do to prevent handmade spice mixes from becoming clumpy in their storage? The emergence of best practices!
The Most Effective Method For Storing
Stick to these tried-and-true methods to minimize and/or do away with clumps in any sort of spice mixture!
1. Changing the Covering Over
To begin, you may get away with the perforated cap that is included with the majority of the spice containers since you won’t be using it.
The shaker cap may seem to be a practical method for sprinkling seasonings over meals, but in reality, all it will do is compromise the quality of the seasonings.
When you shake the bottle of spices while holding it over a pot of simmering water, you are inviting moisture into the container because you are physically pushing it inside as you shake the bottle. If you repeat this process a few times, in a few days you will have completely frozen the contents of the bottle.
Because of this, we strongly suggest that you switch out the cap with the perforations with one that provides enough protection from the elements for the spices.
Keep in mind that moisture may be found everywhere, and the shelf life of most spices is typically between one and two years. The fact that the top is perforated means that even if you store them in a different cabinet, there is a good probability that they will still get clumped together and collect moisture.
You will be literally only one day away from destroying all of your spices if it rains or is humid outside.
If you want to use your own containers, we strongly suggest that you switch from the plastic containers where most spices come to airtight glass containers. This will allow you to store the seasonings for a longer period of time while maintaining their quality.
2. Quick Usage
A frequent error that a lot of individuals are prone to is the habit of leaving the lid of the container open until after the meal has been cooked.
We understand that, in the heat of the moment, everything in the kitchen is a mess; but, just tightening the cap and keeping the spices away from the heat can go a very long way toward improving the overall quality of your spices.
After you have removed a portion of the spice into the cap or measuring spoon, the easiest method to utilise the spices is to reseal the container. After the container has been resealed, you may use the measured spices in the same manner as you usually would.
Under no circumstances should the container be exposed to steam! If you leave the lid off the container while the food is cooking, not only will you be inviting moisture into the container, but you also run the risk of unintentional spills. Even worse, water droplets that escape from a boiling pot may find their way into the container.
3. Ventilate Your Kitchen
One last piece of advice for avoiding clumps is to ensure that your kitchen has enough ventilation. This is a straightforward piece of advice, but despite its seeming simplicity, it is as bit as essential as any of the other recommendations that we have presented so far.
The moisture levels in your kitchen may substantially vary when you turn on the stove and pots, perhaps to the point where they will have an effect on spices that have not been properly preserved.
When you cook, be sure to keep a window cracked or run the exhaust fan to prevent excess condensation from forming in the kitchen.
In addition, if you store your spices in a cabinet that is located close to the stove, it is strongly suggested that you transfer all of the powdered spices to a cabinet that is kept in a cold and dark environment.