“To season and to flavor are not the same thing.” – Encyclopedia of Gastronomy
The process of seasoning brings out the natural flavor of food while flavoring modifies its original flavor. Thus, salt, herbs, and spices make a traditional seasoning. Consequently, an all-purpose seasoning is composed of the same ingredients. However, they are more generalized to serve the purpose of seasoning any kind of food.
Meanwhile, artisan seasoning blends also serve the same purpose. But, instead of using the traditional ingredients, uncommon elements become the main ingredient – think of avocados, honey, beer, and more!
Nevertheless, such seasonings add depth to your dishes without having to scale-out multiple ingredients separately as it is already pre-blended. And although the flavor profile of such seasonings vary on the ingredients used, most of them bring out savory and umami notes. Nevertheless, if you often cook or are making a large batch, it’s more cost-efficient to buy spices separately and blend them yourself. Not to mention that it’ll give you more freedom on adjusting the taste. Plus, pure spices and herbs are more flavorful than the pre-blended ones.
All-Purpose Seasoning Trivia
- Salt is the most important component of an all-purpose seasoning. It has antimicrobial properties and it is a natural preservative.
- The use of sea salt and kosher salt in an all-purpose seasoning makes a huge difference.
- Asia, especially China, is the number one fan of liquid all-purpose seasoning. It is the one that makes the distinction in Chinese food.
All-Purpose Seasoning Buying Guide
From local artisans to online shops and large supermarkets, all-purpose seasonings are easy to find in the state of Texas. Some come in liquid form and some are grounded. Nevertheless, here are some helpful things when you opt to buy the store-bought ones:
- You can find all-purpose seasoning in the seasoning or spice aisle of the store.
- Check out the ingredients list and look for the type of salt used. A lot of these seasoning uses iodized salt, which isn’t healthier and it gives a slightly bitter taste to your seasoning. If possible, choose the ones that use kosher salt or sea salt.
- If possible, go for the ones that contain organic ingredients; this is an indication that the blend has not been irradiated as this process damages the quality of your seasoning.
- Pick the ones that are completely sealed to assure that the product hasn’t been contaminated. Packages that leaks, rusts, bulges, or is severely dented should be discarded.
- Be sure to always check out the ingredients list and pick the ones with lesser preservatives and hard to pronounce chemicals. Remember, mass-produced products usually contain these bad stuff (see below).
- For dry all-purpose seasoning, pick the ones that are not lumpy as this is an indication that moisture has been penetrating the product, which means that your chili mix is not anymore in its best quality and it’ll have a shorter shelf life for sure.
All-Purpose Seasoning Production & Farming in Texas
The production of all-purpose seasoning in the state of Texas is indeed widespread. The top International brands include Big Tree Farms, La Choy, Bragg, and Knorr. The state is also home to many local manufacturers, including but not limited to the following: Texas Spice Co., Texas Select, One & Done, Special Shit, Texas Custom Spice, and South Texas Spice Company.
Furthermore, all the farmers’ markets in the state are home to local food vendors and artisans. Most of the artisan seasonings are also being sold here. Avocado Crack, Axel Provisions, C&J Farms, Cross Country Food & Spices are just some of the local brands that you’ll see. Their products are produced in small batches as well. Plus, you’ll get close to no preservatives and the ingredients are usually organic. Thus, feel free to check them out here at our Texas Real Food Website.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
Indeed, store-bought all-purpose seasonings are more convenient than blending one at home, especially if you don’t often cook. However, it will never be our best choice as most of them contain additives and chemicals for a lower cost yet fast-producing and shelf-stable products. Hence, here are some additives that we found on top brands:
- Calcium Stearate – This additive acts as an anticaking agent in foods where it binds and lubricates the products at the same time. Some calcium stearates are plant-derived while others are derived from animals like cows and pigs.
- MSG – Monosodium Glutamate is used to enhance the flavor of almost any product. It is the one responsible for creating that umami flavor. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it can cause headaches, flushing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, numbness, and weakness to some people. It allegedly can cause asthma, brain damages, and even cancer; however, these allegations remained controversial.
- Thickening agents – Added in the right amount, these thickening agents improve the viscosity of any food without changing its taste. Some natural thickeners include corn starch, potato starch, yellow cornmeal, wheat flour, and other flours.
- Yeast extracts – These are added as a flavor enhancer and possess the same side effects just like MSG. You may want to avoid products with these ingredients especially if you have blood pressure problems or sodium-related concerns.
- Artificial Flavorings – These are usually chemically-formulated products that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. Although they are labeled as such due to its very small quantitative participation, it’s always a better option to stay away from these ingredients. For all-purpose seasonings, some of which come in the following names: disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate, sodium phosphate, soy protein isolate, TBHQ, and alike.
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein – Abbreviated as HVP, this additive creates a broth taste without meat, bones, and vegetables. Common HVP includes hydrolyzed corn, hydrolyzed yeast protein (a.k.a. yeast extracts), hydrolyzed soy, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed wheat gluten. Although HVP is a processed additive, it is a good source of protein.
- Extractives – These additives are made with essential oils or condensed flavor essence of different spices. It can be mixed with solvents such as alcohol, or water. They act as a flavor enhancer and it also contributes to a longer shelf-life.
- Dextrose and Maltodextrin – It is a type of sugar that acts as an artificial sweetener, food neutralizer, and a preservative. Too much consumption of this ingredient can lead to body fluid build-up and high blood sugar.
- Citric Acid – This additive is a natural preservative in foods. It is a weak and organic acid that is found on citrus fruits. Thus, citric acid adds that sour or acidic taste to the product. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it may cause muscle cramps, weight gain, stomach pain, and convulsions.
- Silicon Dioxide – This chemical compound is also known as silica. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. Although it is safe to consume, it can lead to lung problems when consumed past its RDA.
- Color additives – these are food colorings or dyes that are added to food products to improve its color. Some are natural and some are artificial. Examples of the natural ones are annatto extract (yellow), caramel (yellow to tan), beta-carotene (yellow to orange), grape skin extract (red and green), oleoresin paprika or paprika extract (red), and dehydrated beets (bluish-red to brown). Meanwhile, artificial ones include Yellow # 5 and Yellow # 6. Nonetheless, these additives can cause skin irritation, rashes, and eczema. It can upset one’s stomach and experience difficulty in breathing.
- Meat Tenderizer – This natural additive is derived from powdered enzymes such as bromelain, which comes from pineapples, and papain, which comes from papayas. It helps in tenderizing the meat by breaking down the protein into smaller fragments called amino acids and peptides. Nevertheless, too much consumption of these can lead to stomach and throat damage.
- Tocopherol – This food additive can be labeled as the following: E306 (tocopherol), E307 (alpha-tocopherol), E308 (y-tocopherol), and E309 (o-tocopherol). All are organic chemical compounds, most of which contain Vitamin E. They act as a natural antioxidant, preservative, and emulsifier when added to food products, especially in those with fat content like oils, lard, or lecithin.
All-purpose seasoning may come in either liquid or dry form. The liquid ones come in glass bottles that range from 10 fluid ounces to 32 fluid ounces. Also, you can purchase this by the gallon. On the other hand, dry all-purpose seasonings are commonly packaged in spice jars, paper canisters, plastic bottles, shakers, and single-use packets.
Enjoying All-Purpose Seasoning
All-purpose seasoning is a staple condiment in every kitchen. It’s robust and versatile enough to be used on everything from meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetable dishes, tofu, and salads to starches like potatoes, pizza, grains, rice, and pasta. It can be sprinkled before and during cooking. Likewise, it can also be used as a finishing condiment. This seasoning also goes beyond solid food as it can also be used in soups, gravies, sauces, dips, and salad dressings.
Liquid all-purpose seasoning doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It just needs to be stored in a cool area far from sunlight, where it could last for up to 3 years. Meanwhile, a dry all-purpose seasoning should be kept in a sealed and air-tight container. Then, it should be stored in a cool and dry area far from humid and hot zones like stoves, grills, and ovens to prolong their shelf life. Following these, a dry all-purpose seasoning can maintain its freshness and potency for about 1-3 years.
Let’s get blendin’!
All-purpose seasoning is a staple item in every kitchen or pantry. But, it’s not something that you have to buy in stores as most ingredients can already be found in your cabinet. So, if you want to save some time and money… of course! Below is a quick recipe for one. It’s easy to blend at home and it only takes less than 5 minutes to gather all your ingredients, measure, and finally blend. Plus, you can also make this ahead and do the full recipe as this seasoning can be used for a very long time. Also, the addition of sugar in this recipe leads to a beautifully caramelized food.
Yield: 6 oz / 36 teaspoons
- 2 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp dried parsley, crushed lightly
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp dried tarragon, crushed lightly
- 3 tsp black pepper
- 3 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp coriander, ground
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 tbsp brown sugar (Optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Using a funnel, transfer the mixture into airtight containers or spice jars with a tight-fitting lid. Store accordingly.
- To use, use a tablespoon, equivalent to 3 teaspoons, of this seasoning for every pound of meat.