Why you should care
Because why wouldn’t you want to save on time, space and mess in the kitchen?
The kitchen spice rack is getting a makeover. Throw out those dusty jars of paprika and pepper and get ready for a seasoning shift: liquefied versions of your favorite spices. Spice Drops are designed to make cooking quicker and easier — and mess-free — drop by flavor-enhancing drop.
It’s a win-win for flavoring: Not only do drops save time on the chopping board, there’s nothing to clean up afterward. Every drop is equally strong, meaning the same spice strength in every bite. No more tearing up over an extra-hot chili!
It may seem futuristic to flavor foods through liquid, but the benefits outweigh aesthetics.
Gouri Kubair, the face behind Spice Drops, happily wears the mantle of spice-vangelist. Heir to a spice dynasty that spans 70 years and two continents, the former auditor has spice in her blood. In 1938 her grandfather started an essential oil extraction business in Kerala, India. Her father advanced the company, using oils to create the Holy Lama line of skin care and body products. Spice Drops, the company’s first foray into the culinary market, takes the familiar essential oil regime (think fragranced oil burners) into the culinary sphere, with 27 spices on offer — including pepper, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric and lemongrass.
Spice Drops prides itself on being a women-centric business, and all employees get equal pay in line with inflation — a rarity in India. The factory aims to be sustainable too; the less than 1 percent of waste produced is used as fuel and cattle feed. Ninety percent of Kubair’s Indian factory workers are disadvantaged women, irrespective of caste. They work together, pressing the spices by hand.
Readying the spices for the bottle is a four-step process. First spices get crushed with rollers, “effectively cold-pressing so that the flavors are retained,” Kubair says. Next they’re percolated with a solvent, and then vacuum suctioned. This creates a concentrated spice residue, a mixture of oil and resin, which gets mixed with an emulsifier.
It’s curious that this new spicing method hails from the U.K. Everyone loves to poke fun at British food; “bland” or “weird” are common adjectives used to describe the cuisine. But nowadays spicy foods — such as curries — have a serious stronghold in the nation, making it a credible launchpad.
Could this be the end of the humble spice rack? Not completely.
It may seem futuristic to flavor foods through liquid, but the benefits outweigh aesthetics. “Whole spices vary in their strength in each pod or bud,” Kubair explains. “Whereas Spice Drops being liquid based, each drop is as strong as the next.” This allows for consistency, plus they’re potent for three years, compared to the one- to three-year shelf life for jarred versions. Bottles cost $5.70 and are available in the U.K. only, though Kubair said she has plans to start selling in the U.S.
The real test is what kitchen professionals think, and they’ve been receptive. “I love that ‘just picked’ taste and the way you can mix and blend without any of the traditional prep involved, such as grinding or scraping,” British superchef Antony Worrall Thompson wrote in an email to Kubair. “It gives me more time to play around with spice flavors.”
Could this be the end of the humble spice rack? Not completely. “You cannot roast spice drops, and hence you will need whole herbs and spices for that.”
But an inspired new way to flavor your food that supports women’s rights? Now that’s a tasty combination.
Zara Stone is a D.C.-based journalist and videographer who specializes in reporting on the intersection of technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter: @almostzara.