Spicewell's is a husband and wife built cottage business that's based in Devon, right on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
Adding amazing flavour to home cooked meals was something of a hobby for Steve and Jess, a couple with three young children, lots of hobbies and little spare time.
After years of giving away packets, tins and jars of their homemade blends to friends and families, the heartfelt thanks and comments of 'you should sell this! inspired the couple to head to their local village market. With a table of little clay pots reminiscent of miniature wishing wells, their blends were on display to passers-by, the little pots being the idea behind the name Spicewell's.
At home cooking was always about fresh, clean and beneficial food. No chemical preservatives, E numbers, MSG and no unnecessary ingredients like flowing agents or starches used as bulking agents. This is a food philosophy that the couple have made an ethos in their enterprise; nothing but essential, natural ingredients.
The original collection of family recipes has been built upon with additions from all around the world. These have been refined, with the help of many willing taste-test volunteers, to produce a big range of flavourful blends. Offering this variety makes it easy for all home cooks to add new flavours and exciting dishes to their meals week after week. Steve and Jess love the process of developing blends; regularly trying new recipes or improving current ones. It's worth signing up to their newsletter to find out about recipe experiments and becoming a 'taste-tester'.
Steve and Jess are always found at their local Farmers' Markets, here they've put together the questions and answers that are most common. There are also a couple of answers to questions posed by email, if you have a questions yourself, please get in touch.
How do I use it?
We're always asked this! It can be as simple as grab some ingredients, throw them in a pan, sprinkle on our blend, cook and enjoy.
Meat rubs couldn't be simpler as it's a matter or massaging the blend onto the meat, leave for a few hours if you have the chance, then cook as you prefer.
Spice blends are often associated with particular dish or cuisine with many recipes available. As a family we cook simply; you'll find recipes on our site that are straight forward, and as much as possible, use ingredients you'll readily have at home. We do always suggest finding a recipe for a meal and experimenting, as that's part of the joy of cooking. If there's a blend you'd like a recipe for though, get in touch, we'll email one for you to try.
How much should I use?
Well, this depends on what you're cooking, how strong a flavour you like and how big a meal you are making. For a typical family meal we use between 2 and 3 teaspoons. If you are cooking with a blend for the first time start with a smaller amount, adding and taste testing as you go. With meat rubs we typically use ½ a teaspoon per chicken breast or chop, for burgers about 2 teaspoons per pack of meat, for joints we add enough to lightly cover the meat (if you're making a crust you'll use a lot).
How spicy is it?
Always a tricky one to answer! Blends that contain chilli do so for the flavour and warmth, not heat. Our children, who are all young, enjoy the meals we make with blends containing chili, with the exception of Jamaican Jerk, Hunter's Fire, Berbere. Their little eyes well up with those.
If you are unsure how chili-hot your meal is to be, use less, taste test and add the blend as you go.
Does it contain gluten?
In short, no. All of our ingredients are naturally gluten free, we do not use wheat or starch in our blends as may be found in recipe kits and supermarket blends. We do not add anything other than the highest quality herbs and spices, all sourced from reputable importers meeting UK food safety regulations. This means no MSG, no preservatives, no flowing agents, and no added gluten.
Are these organic? Are they vegan?
Some of our ingredients are organic, not all. We offer a lot of blends, and the ingredients for these are varied, and in many cases just not available to us in an organically grown form. There is nothing in our blends from animals, so yes, they are vegan.
Can I keep them in the bag?
Yes, absolutely. We use food safe PET plastic bags with strong zip locks that help keep the ingredients fresh. As the bags are clear make sure to keep them in a cupboard that is cool and dry. If the bag has a powdery blend in it we'd suggest putting it in a food safe jar as, when the zips get clogged with spices, they don't clip together tightly.
How long do they last?
If your cupboards are like those of our friends and family they are loaded with herbs and spices from like, 2012 or something?! Provided they are well kept, herbs and spices can last years. However, how long they will taste good varies dramatically. Essential oils in the ingredients deteriorate at different rates, flavours shift and your herbs, spices, seasonings and blends just won't be as aromatic when they are old.
Rule of thumb? If a blend contains sugars we'd suggest 6-9 months, for herbs upto 12 months, for spice blends and meat rubs 12-18 months, whole spices and salts keep for up to 2 years. We would always recommend using by the BB4 date.
What's the best way to keep them?
Personally we like glass jars. Most important though is reducing your blend's exposure to moisture, air and light. Squeeze air out of bags prior to sealing. Don't allow moisture into packs/pots when you season your meals, use a clean spoon to prevent steam getting in. Keep your container, whatever it may be, in a dark cupboard that doesn't get hot or humid.
My spice blend has become a clump, it it OK?
From experience we know that if we allow our blends to get damp when we're cooking (steam, leaving the lid off etc) this can cause clumping in most of our blends. This would be the first thing to look at to reduce how much this happens.
Is it a problem, are the blends OK? Absolutely! Clumping will naturally occur with some of our blends, which illustrates there are no anti-caking agents present (factory blends often contain E551 silicon dioxide, E535 sodium ferrocyanide or E536 potassium ferrocyanide).
We believe it's better that your spices clump, than ingesting inorganic compounds related to cyanide and sand.
Just shake your blend to loosen the clump.
Do you offer catering packs?
Yes, we have packaging suitable for kilogram quantities and are happy to make these for restaurants, gastro pubs, butchers, deli's, caterers and other food professionals. You'll be offering a great variety of unique blends, made with quality ingredients that are free of additives. Please get in touch for prices.
About food allergies
We carefully control the storage and blending of the herbs and spices that offer. However, we can not control all aspects of the supply chain. As such we would want anyone who suffers food allergies to be aware that both ourselves and our suppliers use facilities that handle the potential allergens of anis, celery, coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, parsley, poppy seed and sesame seed.
Our packaging does denote any known allergen that is an ingredient.