Herbs and spices can elevate your meals from plain to a family favorite.
But, Consumer Reports’ tests of more than 100 store-bought products may be reason to grow your own.
In Consumer Reports tests, roughly a third of the store-bought spices they looked at were found to contain enough potentially dangerous heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, to raise health concerns when regularly consumed in typical serving sizes.
The three more problematic store-bought herbs were basil, thyme and oregano. The good news is they are also among the simplest to grow.
“If you have a sunny spot in your yard, porch or even a windowsill, you can safely grow herbs to use fresh or dry yourself,” said Sana Mujahid, Consumer Reports health editor.
Herbs grow well in separate pots with drainage. Place a few stones in the bottom of a pot with a hole in it.
If you want to assure that your herbs are free of heavy metals, you need to start with the soil.
“Buy potting soil with a seal from the Organic Materials Review Institute, to be sure it’s been assessed for heavy metals,” Mujahid said.
It’s simple to dry and store your herbs. Wash and dry the leaves thoroughly, to avoid mold. Place them in a paper bag for several weeks, then store in airtight containers where they can last a few years.
You can speed up the drying process using a toaster oven, air fryer or multi-cooker set on the dehydration mode.
In addition to the taste and health benefits of growing your own, you can save money, too.