At Sprinkle, we pride ourselves on doing spices the right way, not the easy way.
We don't compromise on freshness or take shortcuts common in the spice industry. We don't just call ourselves 'small batch' and 'artisan'.
We actually are.
To us, it's all about uncompromising, natural, plant-based flavour, unrelenting quality and commitment to origin and sustainability.
We proudly source the finest organic spices and herbs from around the globe and handcraft small-batch spice blends at our own Melbourne factory to bring you Australia's best, freshest, most flavourful spices. Farm to Jar. Here's how we do it.
Spices are 100% plant-based ingredients and can be derived from any part of the plant that isn't the leaf: seeds, fruit, herbs, rhizomes, roots, shoots or tree bark. Most spices are grown in subtropical or tropical climates and cultivated by farmers who have been growing spices for centuries. We source over 100 kinds of spices and herbs from as far as India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico and Israel as well as Australia. The spices that go into our blends are either certified organic or, when that's not available, wild grown. This means none of our spices contain synthetic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers used in non-organic agriculture. Organic spices also contain more nutrients than conventional spices. They're not just better for you but also better for the environment as organic farming techniques support biodiversity and enhance ecological harmony which increases sustainability and produces much higher quality crops.
Spices and herbs are still mostly hand-harvested using century-old practices. Harvesting times vary from one spice to another and play a critical role in preserving spices' natural volatile essential oils that contribute to their unique flavours and fragrances and enhance their quality. Spice farmers determine the right time for harvest depending on the plant or seed colour and time of year. Saffron flowers only bloom one week a year and must be harvested by hand. Black peppercorns turn from green to red and are hand picked when they are at their most red and ripe. Cinnamon tree bark is harvested with scythe-like tools before it's dried and rolled to make cinnamon quills. Herbs are best harvested in the morning, after the morning dew has evaporated and before the sun drains them of colour.
Drying spices is an important part of the production process. Most spices are sun-dried. Herbs (like thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano which have a low moisture content) can be air dried. Mexican chillis are sun-dried as are Middle Eastern chillis like Aleppo Pepper and Urfa chillis. Spices are usually laid down in the open air for a few days to naturally dry in the sun, and turned over several times to ensure consistency and flavour preservation.
Cleaning and sanitisation ensure spices and herbs are pathogen-free and safe for food consumption. Steam drying is the preferred method for organic spices and hers producers as it is 100% natural and chemical and radiation-free. Steam treating uses saturated steam under pressure for a specific short duration (up to 40 seconds) and temperature (between 102°C and 122°C) to kill microorganisms. It kills spores without damaging the vital properties of the plant like taste, colour and volatile oils. The high pressure steam makes it possible to decontaminate heat sensitive herbs and spices without adversely affecting their quality.
Once spices and herbs are harvested, dried, cleaned and sorted into bulk quantities in their country of origin, they are exported to importers and processors all over the world. The processing stage from farm to ship must happen quickly to ensure spices are kept at their optimum quality and arrive at the importing country while still fresh and flavourful. We love receiving fresh bags of spices at our small Melbourne spice factory! Whether they hail from Queensland, India, Israel or Indonesia, there's something truly magical and mysterious about spices. It connects us with history, faraway places and the people who have been growing and cooking with those spices for centuries.
Arrive at Sprinkle
Ever wondered why you see the same generic spice blends everywhere (and they all taste much the same)? The vast majority of seasonings/spices are mass-manufactured by a few large factories for different retailers, who then on-sell them to you, the consumer, under their own label/brand and an inflated price tag (a process called 'white labelling'). Those products are often adulterated and practically stale by the time they reach your kitchen. Sprinkle is different. We are the manufacturer. We make our spice blends at our own Melbourne factory. Which means we know exactly what goes into each of our products. Unlike mass-produced spice brands, our spices never contain artificial colours and flavours, cheap fillers (like rice flour, wheat or peanut shells), MSG, GMO, gluten, preservatives, refined salt or sugar.
Sort & Clean
We check our spices when they arrive for quality, flavour and fragrance. We mostly deal in whole spices (except when those are not available). Fresh spices should look and smell the part. We check their appearance, remove husks and leaves where appropriate and store them in their allocated air tight containers in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to ensure maximum freshness. We store our spices below 22C and under 60% humidity. Spices tend to degrade fast once they're ground so we only grind and blend just before we make a fresh new batch of spice blends. That's why our blends always look so vibrantly vivid and have such a bold, pungent fragrance and distinct aroma. It's about sweating the small stuff!
You won't find a ho-hum 'cajun' or generic 'Moroccan' blend in our range. Our globally-inspired spice blend collection was carefully curated to bring you unique, undiscovered flavours used by local cooks all over the world for generations. Sprinkle's exclusive spice blend recipes were developed by us, in-house, inspired by traditional, lesser-known, Israeli and Middle Eastern spice mixes, family recipes and our travels arounds the world and tried and tested tirelessly until we got the result we were after. They bring together between 6 to 20 hard-to-find, exotic spices and herbs. Spice blending (like coffee blending) is a bit of an art form. A well-balanced blend usually contains a combination of 2-4 base spices, which determine the blend's main flavour profile (hot, sweet, sour or umami) plus a touch of other spices and herbs in smaller quantities to add more nuanced layers of flavour that complement or balance the base ingredients and add complexity and depth of flavour to your cooking.
When we make a fresh batch, we roast dried whole spices (like cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves or cardamom seeds) in a dedicated commercial oven. Spices only need short roasting/toasting periods (6-10 minutes) at medium temperature. Some spices have slightly different roasting profiles so we roast them carefully so they're nicely toasted but not charred. Not all spices benefit from roasting. Black or white peppercorns can taste bitter if toasted so we leave those out of the oven. Roasting brings out spices' natural flavours and aromas as their gorgeous essentials oils are heated and come alive. We love roasting spices mainly because it makes our factory smell amazing!
Just like coffee, spices are ground to make them more suitable for cooking. Once whole spices are roasted we rest a bit to cool down. Spices should be ground at a relatively low temperature, to maintain flavour and aroma for longer. We use special commercial grinders to achieve consistent granularity and temperature control on every batch. Each spice calls for slightly different grinding times and granularity, depending on the recipe. Some spices require very fine grinding, while others need to be coarser and more pronounced. You'll notice our blends don't look like the super fine powders you get in supermarket-grade seasonings. That's because we use more traditional, artisanal spice blending techniques that deliver bigger bolder flavours when you cook. Very fine grinding accelerates the blend's decay and loss of aroma and potency. With mass-produced seasonings, fine grinding means they are often mixed with cheap fillers, refined salt and sugar and other nasties. We believe in flavour you can taste and see. And we like to make our blends beautiful on the inside and out.
That's where we mix it all together! We hand mix our spice blends in giant stainless steel bowls so they're all well combined. We then sift to remove larger particles and clumps and mix and sift again (and again) until it all looks consistent and properly amalgamated.
Fill, Seal & Label
At Sprinkle, it's all about optimal freshness and superior quality. We hand fill our glass jars with freshly blended, fragrant, small batch spice mixes immediately after production to lock in the gorgeous flavours and aromas. We only bottle our products in quality food-grade glass jars, not plastic shakers/sachets or communal self-scoop bins. Spices can go stale fast and be exposed to bacteria and contaminants, when not stored or packaged properly. No two ways about it. Our air tight glass packaging and vacuum sealing aren't industry standard, but we don't mind the extra work. Our packaging was thoughtfully designed to keep our spices uber fresh and our practices sustainable, and we like it that way.