Fall is here…and you know what that means.
Pumpkin spice season is upon us!
Anywhere you look, you’re going to find pumpkin-spiced SOMETHING.
Pumpkin spice cookies? ✔Check!
Pumpkin spice pies and cakes? ✔ Check and check!
And, of course, the granddaddy of them all: pumpkin spice lattes.
If you’re like us, you can’t really stomach the thought of shelling out 5-6 bucks for a coffee or slice of pie every time the craving for pumpkin spice hits us, especially when you consider that making a huge batch of pumpkin spice will only cost you around $3-4!
Yup, even if you sprinkle that stuff on every beverage and dessert you have, a batch of pumpkin spice that you make from this recipe can last you about a couple of weeks. Think of how much money you’ll save! Plus, homemade pumpkin spice will taste fresher compared to store-bought mix, especially if you take the time to toast and grind fresh spices.
First Off, What IS Pumpkin Spice?
Let us clarify a common misconception: pumpkin spice doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin at all.
The reason why it’s called pumpkin spice is that the mix is composed of spices that are commonly used for fall recipes. These spices, namely cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, are spicy, floral, and aromatic. They typically have “warm” flavors, making them perfect for a cool-season like fall.
Of course, when you think about fall, the most quintessential and iconic image that comes to mind is a field of ripe pumpkins! What’s more, the colors of the aforementioned spices (brown, orange, and red) further reflect the colors of fall.
The Case for Toasting and Grinding Your Own Spices at Home
Purchasing ground spices at your local supermarket is fine, especially if you have a robust spice aisle. However, if you really want to get the best possible flavors and aromas from your spices, you should consider buying whole spices, then toasting and grinding them at home.
Toasting spices is the best way to bring out all the flavors because the heat allows the oils in the spices to come out. For a pumpkin spice mix, you can purchase whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole nutmeg, and toast them at home.
Turn it on, and heat the spices on medium-high heat. When you start to smell the spices, they are done toasting, approximately 8-10 minutes depending on the spice. Allow them to cool to room temperature before grinding.
For best results, make sure to toast the spices separately. Spices have different toasting times because of their different shapes, sizes, and textures.
The best way to grind spices finely is by using a spice grinder or food processor. However, you can also use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have one. Keep in mind that using a spice grinder or food processor allows you to end up with finely-ground spices. For this pumpkin spice recipe, you want finely-ground spices.
How Do I Store Spices?
When you store spices, you want to keep them in an airtight glass container. Our favorite container is a large Mason jar! Make sure that you store them in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep the containers away from direct sunlight and heat, as these will cause your spices to dry out much faster.
How Long Do Spices Keep?
Homemade spices can keep fresh for 6-8 months provided that you store them properly.
- 3 T. ground cinnamon
- 2 T. ground ginger
- 2 t. nutmeg
- 1 ½ t. ground allspice
- 1 ½ t. ground cloves
- Place all spices in a small bowl and mix together until well-combined.
- Store in an airtight container and use as needed.
Play with the Spice Mix
One of the best things about using a homemade pumpkin spice mix is that you can adjust the amount of the ingredients to tweak the final flavor. If you want the mix to taste a bit sharper and spicier, you can add a little bit more ground ginger and nutmeg. If you want to taste more floral, you can add a little cinnamon!
Cassia cinnamon vs. Ceylon Cinnamon
You might find that there are two types of cinnamon that you can choose from Ceylon cinnamon or cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is more delicate and complex in flavor, and it’s perfect for using plain on ice cream or sauces. Cassia cinnamon, on the other hand, is stronger, bolder, and spicier, and it’s the more common type of cinnamon you find in markets. For this recipe, we recommend cassia cinnamon because its stronger flavors will stand up better with the mix.
Another thing that we love about making our own pumpkin spice mix? No added sugars or preservatives! We can control exactly what goes into the mix, without worrying about any hidden calories, sodium, or sugar.