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~ So what exactly is in Poultry Seasoning? Poultry? ~

IMG_7377My grandmother ("Baba") and my great aunt (my grandmother's sister "Tettie") always had a small tin of poultry seasoning in their respective pantries.  My grandmother used Durkee's and my great aunt used McCormick.  My mother does not care for poultry seasoning, so, her pantry is bare.  I actually keep two brands on hand, McCormick and Bell's -- I like them both, but I don't always use them interchangeably.  I use McCormick because it is the flavor blend I grew up with, so it goes into family recipes like ~ Tetties Baked Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~.

IMG_7381A bit about "poultry seasoning": Typically, these two words get used generically in the writing of lots of recipes, leading the reader to believe they are all basicially the same and can be used interchangeably.  In the world of spice blends, nothing could be further from the truth. Poultry seasonings are all relatively strong-flavored blends of ground (almost powdered), aromatic herbs and spices, and, they vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. None of them contain the same list of herbs and spices, most are salt-free, many are all-natural, and, others are organic. NONE contain any poultry products or bi-products of any type of poultry --  good news:

No birds ever get harmed in the making of poultry seasoning!  

If you grew up liking foods seasoned with poultry seasoning, it's a 'no-brainer' -- stick to the brand your mom or grandmom used.  If you've never used poultry seasoning, you can't decide what to buy based on pretty packaging or price.   I suggest you invest in 2 or 3 (they're all good) and taste them side by side.  For instance, I like McCormick and Bell's because they both contain lots of rosemary, but, Bell's contains oregano, a spice I do not associate with a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, so I don't use Bell's seasoning to prepare any of my family's vintage Turkey day recipes.  That said,  I do use Bell's in plenty of my other recipes all year round!

IMG_2464Here is an example of how a small sampling of five common brands differ amongst each other:

Bell's:  rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, margoram, thyme, pepper

Durkee's:  thyme, coriander, summer savory, allspice

McCormick:  thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, nutmeg

Penzeys:  white pepper, bell pepper, lemon, savory, rosemary, dill, allspice, thyme, marjoram

Spice Hunter:  onion, garlic, basil, rosemary, coriander, sage, thyme, black pepper, marjoram

If you do a lot of cooking, a quick glance over the ingredients lists indicated you have all or most of these on your spice rack or in your pantry.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with making your own spice blend, it's easy to do, but if your trying to mimic a specific brand's concoction, note:  ingredients are listed in order of largest to smallest quantity. Example: McCormick lists thyme first, so it contains more thyme than sage, or possibly the same amount of thyme and sage, and so on down the line ending with a small amount of nutmeg.

I'm using McCormick as my first example because they make the #1 selling poultry seasoning in the USA, and, if one brand can be singled out to use in recipes that generically call for poultry seasoning, it would be theirs.  If I woke up on Thanksgiving morning to discover I had no poultry seasoning on hand, to copycat their recipe, I'd place the following in my Cuisinart mini-mate chopper/grinder and process to a powder, about 30-40 seconds.  This will make 4 tablespoons:

IMG_73631  tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (4 teaspoons)

1  tablespoon dried rubbed dalmatian sage (3 teaspoons)

1  tablespoon dried marjoram leaves (3 teaspoons)

2  teaspoons dried rosemary leaves 

1/2-1  teaspoon black pepper

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

I'm using Bell's as my second example because they are America's oldest purveryor of seasonings, spices and stuffing mixes -- it all started in Boston in 1867 when Mr. Bell created a combination of herbs and spices that he called "Bell's Seasoning".  Trading ships carried his ingredients into Boston Harbor and his blend was soon a beloved staple in kitchens throughout New England.  Over a century later, the mixture remains unchanged.  To mimic and make 4 tablespoons of Bell's poultry seasoning at home, I process the following to a powdery state:

29903002 1/2  teaspoons dried rosemary leaves

2  teaspoons dried oregano leaves

2  teaspoons dried rubbed dalmatian sage

1 3/4-2  teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2  teaspoons dried marjoram leaves

1 1/2  teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/4-1/2  teaspoon black pepper

Note:  Store poultry seasoning in a tightly-covered container as you would any other seasoning blend.

A point to ponder:  Consider this before you purchase that pricey jar or box of poultry seasoning. If you only use a few tablespoons a couple of times a year (mostly during the holiday season), there is a case for making your own.  All dried herbs and spices have a relatively short shelf life before they start to lose their intensity, six months to a year.  Poultry seasoning (or any herbaceous spice blend) is no exception.  For me, making my own poultry seasoning once or twice a year is an efficient to use up those herbs and spices before they end up in the trash! 

IMG_7341So, what exactly is in Poultry Seasoning?  Poultry:  Recipes yields instructions to copycat recipes for McCormick Poultry Seasoning and Bell's Poultry Seasoning.

Special Equipment List:  measuring spoons; electric spice grinder, or, mortar & pestle

IMG_7294Cook's Note:  To get my vintage recipe for ~ Tettie's Baked Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~, just click on the Related Article link below.  It is one of my family's vintage recipes, so I use McCormick poultry seasoning in it.  That being said, it is not your family's vintage recipe, so don't be afraid to substitute Bell's poultry seasoning or your own favorite brand!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 


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