Fall Spice Zest

Fall spices are just a fraction of the 180 different spices Sharon Landis carries in her new Zest! Spice Shoppe at 32 E. Main St., Lititz.

Sure, you know how to combine ginger, cinnamon and cloves to spice up your molasses crinkle cookies.

But there are lots of other ways to work autumnal spices into your culinary life.

Here’s a sampling of ideas on how to use and handle fall spices.

Fall Spices

Judy Gitomer displays some of the fall spices she carries at the Spice & Tea Exchange of Lancaster, 20 W. Orange St. The spices, from the foreground, are: cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice.

• Sharon Landis of Zest! Spice Shoppe in Lititz says she likes to use cardamom, an aromatic spice that she says has a unique taste and is a signature flavor in chai (spiced tea), in place of cinnamon in her baking. “It adds a unique flavor,” she says. “It just changes up whatever you’re baking.”

• When you’re embracing fall flavors, don’t forget about autumnal teas. The Spice & Tea Exchange of Lancaster carries a popular Spiced Autumn Pear and a Pumpkin Chai. “People come in and smell these teas and say, ‘Oh, it smells like fall,’ ” owner Judy Gitomer says.

• And speaking of beverages, don’t forget about fall mulling spices. The Spice & Tea Exchange’s blend includes cinnamon, crystallized ginger, star anise, allspice, cloves, orange peel and cardamom. “You can put them in a cloth drawstring bag, throw it into a gallon of apple cider and let it steep for about 20 minutes, you get a fabulous spicy apple cider, or you can do it with red wine and have a mulled red wine,” Gitomer says.

• “We have a pumpkin pie sugar that has our spice blend in it,” Gitomer says. “Sometimes I’ll (sprinkle it) on the crust of my pumpkin pie before I bake it. That gives you more of that pumpkin flavor.”

• The flavors of chai, a spiced tea that originated in India but has become ubiquitous in coffee and tea shops in this country, are also related to fall. Landis carries a Chai Spice Baking Blend that contains cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, rose petals and mint. It adds an Indian masala flavor to cakes, cookies, muffins and scones, and can be used to flavor overnight oats.

• Flavors that go well with fall spices include apples, vanilla, chocolate, orange and orange zest.

Fall Spices

Star anise fills a mortar at The Spice & Tea Exchange of Lancaster, 20 W. Orange St. 

• Gitomer says her family members like to make glazed apples as a side dish: Slice apples, saute them in butter, add brown sugar and saute them till they get a little soft, “and then we’ll throw in a little bit of cinnamon, a little bit of cloves, a little tiny bit of vanilla extract, and you have glazed apples you can have with your dinner.”

• Zest!’s Pumpkin Pie Spice blend is recommended for hot chocolate or White Russian cocktails (vodka, Kahlua and cream).

• If you’re making a pie with an apple pie spice blend, Maryland-based spice firm McCormick & Co. recommends using 1 1/2 teaspoons of spice per 6 medium apples.

• “I’ve been reading a lot online about roasting your (cubed) pumpkin with fall spices,” Gitomer says, “and then having it as a side dish or adding it to a salad. Same with the sweet potatoes. ... You can get adventurous with that — add it to stir-fries, add it to salads.”

• “Everyone’s into smoothies now,” Gitomer says, “So make a fall smoothie.” Apples and bananas with cocoa powder and cinnamon is a good flavor combination, she adds.

• Autumnal spices go well with fall vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips, Gitomer says. You can make a honey glaze with fall spices added.

• “If I’m making an 8-by-8-inch pan of brownies, I’ll add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to my brownie mix, and it changes the whole flavor,” Gitomer says. “That’s one of my grandmother’s tricks.”

• You can keep your spices for six months to a year in an airtight container and out of the heat and humidity before they start losing their potency, Gitomer says.