Pumpkin spice is an Autumn tradition adding its rich spicy flavor to just about anything. Not only the main seasoning in pumpkin pies, but it can also be used in everything from cappuccinos and lattes to pumpkin-spiced beers, gingerbread, chocolate truffles, and pumpkin bread. Making your own pumpkin spice at home is as simple as whisking together a few ingredients. Giving you complete control over the flavor and homemade pumpkin spice tastes 1000-times better than anything you could buy at the store. Here is how to make homemade pumpkin spice.
Fresh vs Dry Pumpkin Spice Ingredients
Fresh spices such as fresh ginger, orange zest, vanilla bean make the best pumpkin spice, but it’s not always practical. And fresh spices aren’t shelf-stable and can go bad quickly if not used right away. I like to make a large batch of pumpkin spice out of all dry ingredients to have ready to go in a spice jar. And depending on the recipe, I will make a batch of pumpkin spice using fresh ingredients.
Pumpkin Spice Ingredients
The basic dry pumpkin spice is this:
- Ground Ginger: Sometimes labeled powdered ginger has a less complex flavor than freshly ground ginger. Ground ginger can overpower the pumpkin spice if too much is added.
- Nutmeg: A key ingredient in pumpkin spice, nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg apple that grows in the Mallucas Islands in the South Pacific. The outer shell of the seed is the spice ‘Mace’ and the inner part is nutmeg. Nutmeg has a pungent aroma with a slightly sweet taste.
- Ground Cloves: Are dried aromatic flower buds from another tree that grows in the South Pacific. I guess that why they call them the spice islands. Allspice can be used as a substitute, but you need ground cloves in the pumpkin spice mix.
- Allspice: This is a dried unripe berry from an evergreen shrub that grows in Central America. It has a sweet, spicy, and savory flavor and is similar to cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
- Cinnamon: This spice comes from the inner bark of a tree from the genus Cinnamomum. It has been used as a spice since as early as 2000 BC. It has a sweet, spicy fragrance and flavor. Cinnamon is excellent on many fruits and vegetables and is a perfect addition to pumpkin spice.
Optional Fresh Pumpkin Spice Ingredients
- Orange Zest: The essential oils from the orange zest highlight and enhance all of the flavors of the dry ingredients. I like this addition to pumpkin spice if I am making a recipe with chocolate in it and of course pumpkin pie.
- Vanilla Extract or Bean: The flavor of vanilla is extremely complex with approximately 250 different flavors and aroma compounds. Vanilla adds a smooth caramel quality that is great in Cappuccinos and Lattes as well as chocolate dessert.
- Fresh Ginger: Substituting fresh ginger for the powdered ginger in the pumpkin spice makes all the difference. I use this when baking pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, or chocolate truffles. The ratio for substituting fresh for ground ginger is 1-tablespoon fresh to ¼-teaspoon of ground
Tempering Spices for Pumpkin Spice
Before you make the homemade pumpkin spice mix, have you ever wondered how old that new jar of spice is that you bought from the store? Or how long the one you bought previously has been sitting in your kitchen cabinet? Months, or even years? Tempering wakes up old and stale spices, I use this technique all the time and it’s great for the pumpkin spice mix.
‘Tadka’ or Tempering is a technique I learned from cooking Indian Cuisine. Technically tempering is frying the spices in oil just prior to adding them to the recipe. Tempering releases the essential oils in the spices and brings them back to life.
I don’t fry the pumpkin spice in oil like traditional tempering. For the pumpkin spice mix, I like to add the dry ingredients to a medium-high heat dry skillet for approximately 10-seconds. You want to take care not to burn the spices, so 10-seconds only!
The smell of the gently toasted spices is amazing and it dramatically improves the flavor of your pumpkin spice.
Here is How To Make Homemade Pumpkin Spice
Homemade Pumpkin Spice
- 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir.
- Seal in an airtight container for up to 3 months