Commissaries, central kitchens and other facilities that supply prepared and other value-added foods to grocery retail are always on the lookout for that edge that will separate their products from the competition’s. Fortunately, leading spice manufacturers are stepping up to the plate with new products to help them do just that.

The culinary experts at Pekin, Illinois-based Excalibur Seasoning, a premier meat and seafood seasoning company, have developed a new product that provides just the right amount of flavor — guaranteed — to their customers’ proteins.

Excalibur’s Proper Portions dry rub program, which marked its official kickoff at The Meat Conference in Dallas, provides grocers and processors with stackable towers filled with seasoning packets featuring the company’s most popular flavors. Spices are dispensed out of the bottom of the towers in fixed, pre-determined amounts.

With Proper Portions, commissaries, central kitchens and retailers who prepare meats instore now have a much more predictable way of ensuring that meats are seasoned consistently, says John Brewer, Excalibur’s vice president of sales and marketing.

“Sometimes you have one person who pours it on, another who’s stingy,” Brewer says. “Getting the proper amount on the product is key. All servings are pre-measured, which means less waste and a consistently great taste.”

Today’s fresh food specialists can now perfectly season the customer’s protein at the commissary, central kitchen or store, pack it with their purchase to flavor at home, or combine it with today’s trendy pre-packaged meal kits, Brewer says.

Excalibur says it’s first to market with the concept. “We haven’t seen anyone else with this type of program,” Brewer says.

The 1 lb Proper Portions packages ship 300 units to a case. Brewer adds that because each packet is individually sealed, the chance of contamination is greatly reduced.

Proper Portions are available in the following flavors:

·          Ultimate Steak & Roast

·          Smokehouse BBQ

·          Butter Garlic

·          Rosemary, Basil & Thyme

·          Bourbon Pepper

·          Captain’s Bay

·          Salmon Grill


McCormick stays busy with 2019 rollouts

Hunt Valley, Maryland-based spice giant McCormick & Co. has a variety of new products that either have been released already or will be released later this year.

In the U.S., McCormick has launched its new Zatarain’s Garden District Kitchen range. The meal solutions product line, inspired by the culinary heritage of New Orleans, is plant-based and high in both protein and fiber.

The company also continues to renovate its dry recipe mixes for simple and clean ingredient statements that still deliver delicious flavor. “We are continually improving our portfolio to strengthen our relevance with consumers,” says Lawrence Kurzius, McCormick’s president and CEO. “In the U.S., we’re expanding our McCormick Gourmet line with a range of premium salts and peppers.”

Also on tap for 2019, McCormick and the cooking video web site BuzzFeed Tasty plan to launch a seasonings blends range available both through the direct-to-consumer channel and at retail. “We’re thrilled with this new partnership, which will deliver substantial incremental impressions and reach to an audience primarily under 35 years of age and further accelerate our digital platform,” Kurzius says.

McCormick also plans to introduce its “ONE” product platform later this year. The line consists of one-dish recipe mix flavors created through the combination of artificial intelligence and the company’s consumer insights. McCormick is collaborating with IBM on the project.

“We’re entering in a new era of flavor innovation,” Kurzius says. “This proprietary cutting-edge technology, which we have previously discussed as computational creativity, sets McCormick apart across our consumer and flavor solutions segments. Our product developers are now able to explore flavor territories across the globe more quickly and efficiently, utilizing technology to extract key insights for millions of data points across sensory science, consumer preference and flavor palette.”


Commissaries and central kitchens: four ways to keep your spices fresh:

Keep them away from heat

Don’t store your spices above (or super close to) your stove. That are tends to get humid and hot from all the delicious things you’re cooking there. So where should spices be stored in the kitchen? They keep the best in cool, dry conditions, like in a cabinet. A bonus to keeping them away from humidity: you’ll avoid running into spices that are all clumped up in the bottle because they’ve absorbed a bunch of moisture from the air.


Keep them out of the light

We get it: you want to display your spices out in the open so when your neighbors or friends come over, they can “ooh” and “ahhh” at your extensive culinary collection. Same here. Unfortunately, light can bleach some of the vibrant colors out of spices like paprika and mustard powder. Seasonings that you only use rarely or in small quantities, like Asafetida, are especially susceptible to this as they tend to spend more time in their bottle without being shaken or used up.


Keep them sealed

Here’s a new vocab word: volatility. We’ve talked about it before—it’s the chemical characteristic of an aromatic flavor compound to just… disappear into the atmosphere. This happens slowly with dried spices, but it does occur. The longer a seasoning is exposed to air (especially circulating air), the more likely it is that the molecules that are responsible for flavor have dried up and drifted away. Have you ever noticed that the ground black pepper that’s stored in your salt cellar is lacking just a little in the flavor department? This is why. The simple solution: keep your spices in jars (or bags) that are tightly sealed, and fill that extra cellar compartment (or two) with another course, flaky salt to finish fried eggs or sweets.


Keep whole spices

Whereas ground spices’ volatile flavors have been more exposed to air during the grinding process (and therefore will dull faster), whole seeds will hold onto their tastiness for much longer. We grind the spices fresh for you, but ground seasonings will only be at their peak flavor for about 6 months to a year. By comparison, whole spices can sit in your cabinet for up to two years before losing their oomph.

To grind your own spices, you can definitely use an electric mill. The traditional mortar and pestle is the best way to grind things like seeds, plus it can be used with fresh ingredients to make pesto, chile paste, and other sauces. Microplanes aren’t just for zesting citrus; they’re also great for cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg (if you don’t have one of these cool gadgets, that is).


Source: Ashlee Redger, test kitchen chef, Savory Spice