In many supermarkets you have two options for spices: bottles in the baking section ($3.59—on sale—for bay leaves, notes rworange), and little bags in the Mexican section (69 cents for a bag of fragrant bay leaves, says rworange). Surprise: The little baggies are good. “The Mexican spices are not in the same class as Penzy’s, but my experience is that they are the equal or better than the supermarket spices like Spice Island, Durkee, etc.,” says rworange. “The thing with the brand name spices is they have gotten so expensive that they don’t turn over quickly with the exception of often used spices like cinnamon.” In a market setting, turnover is essential to the freshness of spices.
jeanmarieok often buys the Mexican cinnamon sticks. “While the quality might not be as good as some other brands, at least where I shop, these spices are turning over FAST so they are fresh,” she says.
goodhealthgourmet notes that the baggie packaging isn’t ideal, though: “The spices–especially ground–deteriorate even more quickly in those flimsy plastic bags than they do in sealed glass jars.”