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I mix up a red pepper and salt blend (along with a few other ingredients) and put it in a coffee grinder to powder it.

The blend that I have come up with has just the right flavor for my family's taste, but it is too intense. We use this spice mix to coat deep-fried tater-tots in a pretty fair imitation of the potato ole's from Taco John's. When coating the tater tots, it takes a certain minimum amount of the spice to get decent coverage. But, that makes the flavor too strong.

What can I use as a filler or extender to dilute the strength of my spice mix, so I can use enough to get a good distribution of the spices and not have the flavor so strong. Any suggestions for something flavorless that can be added and blended with the mixture?

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Another option might be to look at different delivery mechanisms -- ie, a shaker for powdered sugar might give a finer coating (depending on the grind), eliminating the need to change the spice mixture. –  Joe Jul 13 '11 at 23:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The professional (read: industrial) solution would be maltodextrin powder. It is rather tasteless, has good solubility in liquids, and doesn't change much texturewise.

In homemade spice mixes, the popular filler solution are dried breadcrumbs of a very small size (like breadcrumbs for schnitzel breading). They are noticeable, because the mix gets gritty, but the consensus among those who do it is that this is a feature, not a bug. They could also slightly thicken a wet dish (soup, stew), but present no problem when strewn over dry food.

You can also use a nut flour made of nuts without much of an own taste, like apricot kernels or low quality overdried almonds. Again, this will be somewhat gritty, but not as hard as the breadcrumn solution.

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If the spice mix is going to be stored for some time, I would worry about the nut oils going rancid. –  Ray Jul 13 '11 at 15:13
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Some nuts are susceptible (walnuts), but others aren't. I have had almond flour sitting around for months without changing much in taste (it didn't have any to start with, as I said, these were bad/cheap almonds). But when making one's own mix, you can always make small enough portions to only store them for a few weeks. Else the flavor of the spices deteriorates too. –  rumtscho Jul 13 '11 at 21:49
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That's the way to do it. Old spices just aren't the same. My in-laws have spices that must be from the '80s. The labels are all yellowed... it's really no surprise that they don't use them very often when they have no flavor. –  Ray Jul 13 '11 at 22:13
    
Thanks, I'll give the breadcrumbs a try until I can get hold of some maltodextrin. –  Stewbob Jul 14 '11 at 18:33
    
Maltodextrin is used in some beer styles. If you have a local homebrew supply store, you could probably buy it there. –  Kenster Jan 15 '12 at 20:30

The best filler is maltodextrin. You could also use milk powder.

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Could you explain why you think maltodextrin is the best filler? And if milk powder poses any significant differences? –  Laura Aug 23 '12 at 17:17

Why not dilute it in several liquids that will match the dishes you prepare.

Spiced oils and vinegars are very conventional. Spiced neutral alcohols can be nice - especially when cooking in a sauce or over a fry pan at higher heats.

For the tots, it looks like oil is the way to go.

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Flour, cornstarch, or cornmeal should work well. They'll also help your spice mix stick to the food. Very fine breadcrumbs could work as well, as long as they are not too large to pass through the holes of a shaker.

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I left out flour and cornstarch deliberately. They tend to become unpleasantly clingy when moistened with saliva, and thicken relatively much when used in a soup. Cornmeal (or semolina at 300-500 µm) sound good. A similar gritty problem as with the breadcrumbs, but definitely a viable option. –  rumtscho Jul 13 '11 at 21:53

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