Best resources for buying spices? (Online or Seattle)
August 14, 2014 3:34 PM   Subscribe

One of the things I miss about living in the big city is access to a Penzeys spice store. The other thing I miss is having enough money to afford to shop there. I am looking for any good resources on where to buy spices, either online, or within a few hours of Seattle, which is now my nearest metropolis. "The spice must flow!"

I have heard that you can find good deals online if you buy spices in bulk, but so far I haven't found any. What are your best deals for spices online? It is OK to buy in bulk.

I am an adventurous cook, so am looking for everything. I already make my own corned beef, fermented pickles, and bitters, and if I have to keep buying whole allspice and star anise at local grocery stores it will be too expensive to continue with this fun hobby.

Also, I have heard that Seattle-area store "Winco" has good prices on spices, so I will definitely check that out next time I go there. I would also love to know about any Asian or Indian stores in the area-- when I lived in the area last I knew where they were, but that is more than ten years ago.

So then, what are your recommendations for buying spices, either online or in the Pacific Northwest? Thank you for all your comments and advice!
posted by seasparrow to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Market Spice in the Pike Place Market.
Uwajimaya for your Asian cooking needs.
Viet Wah for when you're gonna get real.
Mayuri market for all your Indian curry, chat, lassi and basmati needs.
posted by brookeb at 3:43 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Downtown Seattle has a Penzeys. There are also Marketspice and World Spice locations about two blocks away, in and behind Pike Place Market.
posted by Mr. Six at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I lived in Seattle, I got all my spices in bulk from World Spice down behind Pike Place Market, at which time I found them to have great quality and good prices -- it's been a few years now so I can't speak to their current state, but likely worth checking out. Plus you can go to the Spanish Table while you're down there!
posted by j.edwards at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2014

Maybe you don't know that penzeys has a really nice web site, and does most of their business mail-order?
posted by contrarian at 4:08 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, there's a Penzey's in Seattle. There's no Penzey's where I live so I order through their online catalog. Worth it.
posted by vivzan at 4:09 PM on August 14, 2014

Spice bonus: If you subscribe to the paper version of Penzy's catalog they always include a coupon for a free bottle of their featured spice. (The most recent was for the small bottle of your choice of parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme, but sometimes it's for the larger sized bottle, too.) I believe you can redeem them with online orders, but I've only done it in person.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:17 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My city has a Penzey's, but I always shop online from them anyway. Their site is a little bit clunky, but when you know what you want it's easy enough.
posted by tomboko at 4:37 PM on August 14, 2014

If you can get to Olympia, Bucks Fifth Ave spice shop is amazing. Whenever I'm in Washington I make a special trip there to get the spices I'll need.
posted by Marinara at 4:38 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe you don't know that Penzeys ... does most of their business mail-order?

Seconding this, as one who's been a Penzeys patron from before they had storefronts. And their catalogs have interesting articles and recipes.
posted by Rash at 4:43 PM on August 14, 2014

When you say that you are buying from the grocery store, do you mean that you are purchasing the jarred spices from the baking aisle? Because some supermarkets have bulk sections that also have spices. In the Seattle/King County area, some Fred Meyers and QFCs have these bulk sections. The bulk spices are much, much cheaper than what is sold in the baking aisles. This may be more convenient for you than a special stop somewhere else.
posted by stowaway at 4:57 PM on August 14, 2014

In my opinion, the cheapest very high quality spices in the Seattle area are to be found at Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC).

Here is a list of the spices they carry in bulk, and store locations are linked in the left sidebar of the page.

Members and non-members pay the same prices, except for two days in the middle of the month when members get 5% discounts, and a 10% off coupon members can use on a single trip through the check stand any day once in a given month.

For locally grown and intensely flavored dried herbs, try to make it to one of the many local farmers' markets (such as the University District market held every Saturday beginning at 9AM at University Ave. NE & NE 50th st.), and look for Pipitone Farms stuff sold under the Rock Island Red brand.
posted by jamjam at 8:27 PM on August 14, 2014

I also suggest bulk spices at the grocery store, but Fred Meyer and QFC's selection sucks for anything but the basics, and even then... The best I've found is the Ballard Market. (PCC is also good.) Whole Foods isn't too bad, but they (at least the Westlake one) also don't have a fantastic selection compared to Ballard Market or PCC. For bulk foods in general, since you're there anyway, Ballard Market (or Whole Foods) is better than PCC, I think.

World Spice has some really great spice blends, but they are pricey.
posted by sevenless at 8:38 PM on August 14, 2014

Came in to mention Buck's in Olympia. The owner will also special order/help you track down pretty much anything you want and is very helpful.
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:14 PM on August 16, 2014

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