Disclaimer: I only share this with you because I love you, and I hope that what happened to me never happens to you. If you have a squeamish tummy, you may want to rethink reading the rest of this post. Consider yourself warned. 😉
For those of you who are still with me, here’s what happened:
Last Wednesday, I was preparing homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. My tomato soup recipe calls for a pinch of cayenne pepper, so I opened my jar of cayenne pepper and dunked the spoon inside. (Why, yes, I do have measuring spoons for “pinch,” “dash,” and “smidgen.” #atypepersonality) I was just about to add the pepper when I noticed a little chunk in it. I dumped it onto a smaller plate instead, so I could examine the lump. To my horror, it very much resembled the tiny exoskeleton of an insect. I felt the bile rise to my throat, but I told myself that maybe I was just imagining things… Maybe it was just part of the pepper that had accidentally found its way into the jar. So I dunked the spoon back inside and studied another tiny scoop. This one also had a lump very much resembling the shell of an insect. I stuck the spoon back in one more time and swirled it around and saw many of these disgusting chunks buried among that red-orange powder. Completely disgusted, I threw the entire mess into the trash and said a prayer of thanks that I had made this discovery before I added the pepper to my soup. (I would certainly have dumped the entire batch of soup had I made my discovery too late.)
Praise God for Google! I hopped online and discovered that insects hatching inside of spices is actually a thing! (Ach! Gross! Gross! Gross!) Apparently, it is mainly a problem among red spices, the reason for which I’m currently unaware. The larvae is already present when you buy the spice. (And I bought a name brand too! I won’t tell you which one, but it rhymes with McBormick.) If you let the spice sit for too long in your pantry, the larvae can hatch and live a very merry insect life inside your spice container. This can easily be avoided by storing your red spices in your refrigerator or freezer, which I will most certainly be doing from now on! The soup was further saved by a substitution of paprika, which I’m happy to inform you was deemed insect-free after a very close inspection.
This is usually the part where I ask you to share your similar experiences in the comments, but I’m not sure I’ll have the stomach for it. I’ll leave it up to you!