Have you ever wondered what a quality spice is? Why spend more on a brand that claims to sell premium spices? Garlic is garlic, paprika is paprika, the nay-sayers say! Well, here is a small sampling that anyone can understand and see, the difference in grades of spices.
Paprika, ground chilies from the species Capsicumannuum, is popular in many dishes. Its color ranges from brownish to bright red, depending on the quality, origin and oil content. Without getting too technical here, take a look at Prima quality paprika in contrast to what you may find on the store shelf. It is noticeably redder, and we use the highest grade available.
Dill weed, or Anethum graveolens, is best harvested before the plant is fully mature and before the flower buds have opened, in the early morning when the moisture content locks in the flavor and freshness. Prima dill weed is noticeably greener and fresher looking, and will delight dill lovers everywhere. Sprinkle it on fresh salmon fillets or use as a base for a fish seasoning.
Pepper, the "king of spices”, is from the most popular spices in the world.
Prima’s unique cut and grind of pepper is unparalleled and crucial to locking
in the essential oils. Customers have commented that they’ve never tasted black
pepper like ours before.
Facts on the Ground
The American Spice Trade Association’s (ASTA’s) Cleanliness Specifications allows up to 20%* of contaminants including rat hairs, wire, whole dead insects, mold and animal excrement, to be ground into commercially sold spices.
As far as the actual spice content, it may be as much as a year old before the jar ever sees a shelf. Most companies purchase their spice in huge bulk, and it can sit around in warehouses for many months before finally being packaged and sold. The spices may also have other ingredients such as salt, rice or flour mixed in; FDA regulations do not require suppliers to list these add-ins as ingredients
But Prima is different. We know what’s in every grain of our spices, because we lab-test every single batch and reject what doesn’t meet our cleanliness and quality standards, until we’re left with only the absolute finest, purest, freshest product. Our spices are potent, clean, and long lasting. But you don’t have to believe us. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried a Prima spice variety—they all say the same thing.
We’re perfectionists. Prima was founded on a pledge to bring purity, perfection, and amazing flavor to spices and we’ve built that legacy into a reputation acknowledged by cooks all over the world. Our commitment to consumers means that we will send back stock as many times as necessary, and by now, our suppliers know it. They set aside the best for us.
Today, consumers are becoming increasingly educated about
what’s in their food. All across the nation, people are reading and writing
about food and nutrition. There is growing concern and awareness. Consumers are
questioning big brands. They want to know that what they’re eating is clean,
safe, pure and fresh, and they don’t believe the big-name brands have their
best interests at heart.
Important Factors in Spice Quality
Freshness is very important in spices. They start out whole: pepper as a peppercorn, paprika as sweet bell peppers, etc. Then they get ground. All spices have a certain amount of time that the flavor remains strong. It’s very important to preserve the freshness factor.
In today's world of mass production, many companies don't package their own ground spices. They go to larger companies, which package it for them. They may buy a year’s supply of garlic powder and it stays in their warehouse going stale.
Prima is in control of what goes into each jar. We buy the spices, package it ourselves, and run strict quality control. We have a test kitchen where we test each and every batch of spices in our own recipes. We send it back if we don't like it. We only sell spices, spice blends and breadcrumb blends. We're spice people. So we can focus on the spices completely. Our wholesalers already know to send us the best. We have a faster turnover, too: it doesn't sit in the warehouse, even if it means our product will be more expensive. Even if it’s more expensive, people still buy it more because it’s better quality. We're crazy neurotic about quality.
Know-how: what does it mean to know your spices? For example, in paprika, there are different potentials for the visual color. It can be redder or browner. The vividness of the color is a direct reflection of the pungency of the taste and aroma. There are companies that might even put coloring in paprika to make it look redder. We know that there are no color additives in our paprika. We test it in a lab to make sure that it's 100% natural. As a matter of fact, every spice we sell gets tested in a lab. We reject it if it’s not all natural, or if it’s tampered with. We are focused on getting the finest paprika; if not, we send it back.
We get nitty-gritty with our spice varieties. Hungarian paprika has a different taste. They grow it differently in Hungary. There are Spanish peppers in regular paprika, and Hungarian peppers in Hungarian paprika. Just like with grapes, the different strains make different kinds of wine based on the soil and sunlight of each region. Hungarian peppers have stronger flavor, based on the soil profile, climate, and growing methods of Hungary. Hungary has the climate and knowledge to grow these peppers with its unique taste.
Every spice has its own optimal climate and best growing region. But not always do we buy from the same region, since sometimes there may be bad seasons.
For example, Indian black pepper is most prized. There are places it originates in India, each with its own advantages and unique taste profile. Brazil and Vietnam also try to grow pepper, but they can't match India's since they don't have the same climate. We track each region’s crop for that season and purchase from the best one.
Ginger grows all over, but Chinese ginger is best. There are some seasons that Indian ginger is better. We chase down the best crop each season. Each crop has a certified analysis, describing the flavor profile and the oils which determine the flavor and quality of each spice. Our pledge is to always track down the best possible flavor of each spice.