Kosher at The Spice House

Kosher Spices from The Spice House

Most of our customers who keep kosher already know that the Spice House offers kosher spices. Our Milwaukee customers in particular may have noticed the symbol on their spices consisting of an outline of Wisconsin containing a “K”, indicating kosher certification. However, we are often asked why spices from our Milwaukee store bear a kosher symbol while spices from our other locations do not.

Though the basic principles of kashrut (kosher law) are simple, the interpretation and implementation of these rules can be quite complicated. Fortunately, since vegetable material is generally considered kosher by default, most whole spices can be assumed to be kosher without specific certification*. For the most part, kosher certification for spices means supervision of how the processing is done.

The Chicago Rabbinical Council considers the following spices to be kosher without specific supervision (original at

  • Allspice
  • Cumin
  • Peppercorns (Any Color)
  • Anise
  • Dill
  • Pepper
  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leaf
  • Fenugreek
  • Saffron
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlicwhole or powder (not toasted or roasted)
  • Sage
  • Caraway
  • Ginger
  • Salt
  • Cardamom
  • Lemon Grass
  • Savory
  • Chervil
  • Mace
  • Sesame Seed White & Black (Raw only)
  • Chili Peppers
  • Marjoram
  • Sumac (pure)
  • Chives
  • Mustard Powder and Mustard Seed
  • Tarragon
  • Cilantro
  • Nutmeg
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Onion (not toasted or roasted)
  • Turmeric
  • Cloves
  • Oregano
  • White Pepper
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Parsley


Spice blends and some whole spices do require rabbinical supervision to be considered kosher. For this reason, Rabbi Tuvia Torem visits the Spice House in Milwaukee every few months in order to oversee their operations and certify the products as kosher.

Each Spice House location contains its own processing facilities. Most of our ground spices and all of our spice blends are processed “in house” in the store at which they will be sold. Currently, only the Milwaukee Spice House has its facilities certified by a rabbi. What this means is that, although all of our locations sell “Sunny Spain”, only “Sunny Spain” produced in Milwaukee is certified Kosher.

All of the Spice House locations obtain their spices from the same sources, and process spices in much the same ways. The reason that only the Milwaukee Spice House has rabbinical supervision is simple; kosher certification in Wisconsin is much less expensive than certification in Illinois, and the staff in Milwaukee are more familiar with kashrut requirements.

Those customers seeking spices with rabbinical kosher certification should call the Milwaukee Spice House and place orders with them directly. They can be reached at 888-488-0977.

Our Kashrut Certificate can be viewed at:

*It is important to note that, except in our Milwaukee store, our spices may have come into contact with equipment that is not considered kosher.


Ranjana's Indian Cooking Classes

AnotherAmericanmasalacover recent  wonderful program for the Culinary Historians of Chicago featured an Indian chef and author from New York, Suvir Saran His program was quite entertaining. Yet what was most unusual, is that the program was held at the home of Ranjana Bhargava, just South of Hyde Park, Chicago. The Historical Society was unavailable, and this gracious woman agreed to hold the lecture in her lovely home, where she also teaches Indian Cooking Classes.

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One of our favorite customers, Chef Clay, on television.

Chef-clay-cookbook We have so many wonderful customers. Chef Clay Erickson is at the top of our list. In addition to being a really nice person, he often brings us soup.  Not just soup, but really delicious soup. And when he brings soup, he is kind enough to bring enough for the entire staff. We salivate like Pavlov’s dogs when he calls in an order! He lets us use his recipes in the recipe section of our website; click here for an award winning chili recipe. So we are very excited for his first star chef exposure on Monday, March 30th, on the Lunchbreak Cooking Segment on WGN Chicago channel 9, at 12:45. Who knows, maybe he will be the next hot chef to host his own cooking show? If you are interested in purchasing his soup book (money goes to St. Paul Lutheran Church youth ministry)  please click on this link

Our chef friends on the radio. Turn it up, turn it up, little bit higher, radio.

Gale Gand at WGNTom and I always argue about advertising. Mostly because it costs A LOT. I would argue that in these tough times we need to hang onto our money. He would counter that sometimes you have to spend money in order to make money. At least he had a clever idea to run with this time. We asked a few of our chef friends if they would be kind enough to come on and talk about why they like to buy ingredients for their top notch culinary creations at The Spice House. We waited anxiously for their  replies, feeling like the boy who knows he about to be turned down for prom! We were so happy when they actually said yes. Here Gale Gand and Tom look over their material.

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CHC programs leads to discovery of French Patisserie


We have spent our lives as spice merchants. I believe it is true in many small businesses, this is not just a living, it is a calling. As such, it spills over into our personal lives, and our hobbies. We are consumed by the food world, and as such, the organizations we belong to for enjoyment tend to run along parallel lines.One of my very favorite groups is the Culinary Historians of Chicago. Their programs are both educational and entertaining, and sometimes lead to a fantastic discovery of a Chicago treasure of which we were unaware, like the French Patisserie Vanille.

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Cooking our way through Thailand

A while back my daughter and I had the opportunity of a lifetime. We went to Thailand on a cooking tour. We visited 3 major cities and took cooking classes in each region. The first city was Bangkok, the second was Chang Mai in the north and the third was Phuket in the south. Each had a slightly different cuisine using ingredients available in that area. This was truly a great culinary experience and we encourage everyone to explore different cultures and their individual ethnic foods, whether abroad or in your own homes. The cuisine of Thailand is surprisingly simple. The preparation is the key, the actual cooking takes minute in most cases.

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Spice up your Life with our friends at Mayflower Tours

If we can name one positive outcome of this economy, it is that our friends and neighbors are working harder than ever to connect with each other and figure out ways to work in tandem. Past scenarios where independent businesses would not have dreamed of partnering with other companies (as sometimes that involves the dreaded ?compromise?!) are being seriously rethought. We are very excited to be involved in several such cross marketing ventures.

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A New Forklift

Alex, Adam and I are exitited about our new guy-toy. We bought a 5000 lb. cap. Toyota forklift last month for our newly rented warehouse.Forklift Will it fix my mid-life crisis? It is red but is it a convertible?  Patty calls the warehouse the “boys club”. She hasn’t been there since the owner showed it to us a few months ago. She thinks we have set up a hot tub, big screen TV, Kegger cooler, and bought used couches. I wish she was correct.

Now we can unload whole trucks of spices and supplies at the warehouse. It’s really gonna make life easier as the shops are all stuffed to the ceilings


A weekend with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

This past weekend, we had the real treat of hosting James Beard and IACP award winning authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg in three shop locations in three separate cities. Described a decade ago as “the brightest young author team on the culinary scene today” (NPR) and subsequently as “culinary historians,” “cultural anthropologists” and even “the Jane Goodalls of the chef world” (Food & Wine Radio Network) for chronicling the contemporary food revolution and the advent of today’s era of celebrity chefs, Dornenburg and Page have been characterized as “incisive, hip” (Publishers Weekly) writers whose books are “extremely popular among, and indeed essential to, professional chefs” (WOR Radio).                                           11-17-2008 years pics 418

We had ample opportunity to chat with the authors about a variety of subjects. We lamented the passing of time and the fact that Julia Child, once the brightest of stars in the culinary world, was not the same icon to the current generation as she was to ours. However, Karen and Andrew themselves serve as mentors to many of the current generation. In many ways they serve a parallel role to this generation that Julia did to older generations. They inspire, they help people figure out flavors, they teach, guide and encourage aspiring chefs to follow their dreams and to be creative. In this manner we think of them as almost a version of  Julia Child, of course a  younger version! Our Geneva neighbor chef, Jeremy Lycan , of the three star restaurant Niche , supported that concept when he told us their book, Culinary Artistry, was his inspiration. He was almost star struck when we brought them over to his restaurant after our event.

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