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Spotlight On Spices! Issue October 2014 - Blackening Spices
October 01, 2014

Welcome to the fall season and the beginning of what seems now like an endless string of holidays that run into each other like smashing pumpkins. As we say goodbye to some lingering days of summer let’s remind ourselves of the delicious cookouts and grilling specialties we enjoyed. Throughout the summer at the spice shop we were asked if we sold blackening spices. We don’t sell a blend called that however we do sell a tasty Cajun spice blend that can be used for this cooking technique which is this month’s . . . .

THE SPICE OF LIFE - Blackening Spices

Before showing shop guests the cajun spice blend I always mention, or remind them, that blackening is as much - really more - a cooking technique as it is a spice blend. Actually, you may use any seasoning you like. If done right, this wonderful technique created by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme serves up flavorful seafood (traditionally redfish), poultry, pork, beef, and vegetables that are almost burnt on the outside, and moist and flavorful on the inside. Blackened foods are charred, smoky, and spicy.

Because blackening should be done outside on your concrete patio now is still a great time to do it. Most home kitchens cannot stand up to the amount of smokiness that blackening causes. Your smoke detectors will be beeping off the hook, and if you have a hard-wired one monitored by your security company the fire engines may be sent out. Yes, if done right, there will be billows of white smoke engulfing your kitchen. Indoor blackening requires a well- ventilated kitchen; but, I don’t recommend you do it inside.

Blackening is a quick cooking process for which preparation is key. You must have:

A prepared spice blend, a heavy black cast iron skillet, melted unsalted butter, prepped food, tongs, oven mitts.

Recipe for a basic Blackening Spice blend (some blackening products on the market have about 20 ingredients. Simpler is better):

1 Tbsp - sweet Paprika (can use half-sharp or spicy paprika to up the spiciness)

1-2 tsp - Salt

1 tsp - Onion powder

1 tsp - Garlic powder

1 tsp - Cayenne

1 tsp - Black Pepper

1 tsp - White Pepper (optional; can use 2 tsp of black)

½ tsp - Oregano

½ tsp - Thyme

½ tsp - Sugar (optional, but helps promote caramelizing)

(If I were blackening beef, I would add about ½ tsp of celery powder)

Blackening Skillet Preparation & Cooking:

Heat skillet face down over a medium-high burner for about 10-12 minutes. To test for hotness you can drop a couple of drops of the melted butter into the pan. It’s hot enough if the butter's water evaporates immediately and its solids ball up and turn black.

Dredge both sides of your food in melted butter and coat heavily with the spice blend. Carefully place food in the heated skillet and voila! White smoke will appear. Do not disturb the food until it's ready to be turned over (when it's charred). Depending on whether you’re blackening thin fillets or a thicker cut of beef, cooking time can be anywhere between 15 seconds to 2 minutes per side. When charred on both sides remove from skillet and finish cooking in oven or another pan till desired doneness. Turn off the burner and let skillet cool completely. Do not put in water or clean while it's so hot. Doing so will damage/destroy your cookware.

Blackened seafood is simply delicious served up with lemon and melted butter. Fish fillets can be finished with a sprinkling of fines herbs, parsley, or chervil. Bon Appetite!


October is the Month for:

National Apple Month

National Cookie Month

National Dessert Month

National Pasta Month

National Pizza Month

National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

National Pork Month

National Pretzel Month

National Co-op Month

October 1 National Homemade Cookie Day

October 9 National Dessert Day

October 17 National Pasta Day

October 28 National Chocolate Day


Check here for the latest news on any spice recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts:

Food ALERT! Widget


Websites for Spice Retailers:

Atlantic Spice Company -

Durkee® -

Maison Terre -

McCormick® -

Milford Spice Company -

Penzeys Spices -

Savory Spice Shop -

Spice Islands® -

The Spice House -

Spice Accessories Websites:

Bottles, Containers & Jars:

Bottle Store - -

SKS Bottle & Packaging, Inc. -


Online Labels -

Spice Racks:

Tubular Spices -

Spice Rack Source -

Check out our website that's All About Sweet Potatoes


Tell us what you would love to see in our monthly eZine. We want to keep this publication fresh and relevant. We want to put a spotlight on the herbs and spices that are of the most interest to you.

Use our Contact Form to give us constructive feedback or ask questions. Thank you!

Ellen White

Eat Well. Live Well. Cook everyday with spices and herbs!

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