Saturday, January 25, 2014

List of Common Herbs and Spices and Their Uses


Definition of Spice

The definition of a spice differs according to the country or region in the world. Spices are sometimes defined according to where they are grown, whether they are dry or wet, or their historical background (i.e., when they started to be used as spices). However, these definitions are not always accurate from the viewpoint of their functions and constituents. The term “spice” can be defined as the dry parts of a plant, such as roots, leaves, and seeds, which impart to food a certain flavor and pungent stimuli.

What is the Difference Between Spices and Herbs?

Many people use the terms spices and herbs interchangeably to mean any product of plant origin used primarily for seasoning food.  Technically, herbs come from aromatic plants grown in the temperate zone, while spices are products of tropical plants.  Usually, the leaves of herbs are used; whereas, spices may come from the bark, berries, flower buds, roots, or seeds

Herbs and spices add very little if any nutritive value to foods – they are used only for flavoring or coloring foods. In general, they are low in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol, although some of the oil-rich seeds, such as poppy and sesame, contain a moderate amount of calories. Also, some seasonings, such as celery or parsley flakes, contain enough sodium to be counted.

However, these ingredients are used in such small quantities that they are not a problem unless a recipe calls for an unusually large amount, or unless the diet restriction is severe.

The Effect of Cooking on Spice and Flavors and Function

The four major effects of spices used in cooking are flavor, pungency, coloring, and deodorizing. In general, each spice fulfills one major function, but some spices fulfill multiple functions. The following factors affect spice function, including flavor, when spices are used for cooking.

1. Spices contain both volatile and nonvolatile oils. Most spice flavors are a result of components included in the volatile oil, but volatile flavor compounds can be generated even from nonvolatile oil when heated. In general, flavor components tend to become weak or disappear at high temperatures. The flavor components of spices are more volatile with increased temperature. The flavor sensation of each spice can be changed by controlling cooking conditions including temperature and time.

2. Oily components including volatile oils are generally soluble in alcohol, and the flavor of a spice can be enhanced effectively by cooking with alcohol.

3. The oily component of any spice is of course oil soluble. Therefore, flavor characteristics of spices can be enhanced by adding the spice to the oil phase of a salad dressing or to the oil used in the cooking process.

4. It is not always necessary to ingest the spice itself to achieve its desired effect. A deodorizing or neutralizing effect can be achieved, for example, without using the spice flavor per se.

5. It is sometimes effective to put a spice directly on the fire when grilling, resulting in a smoking effect.

6. Each spice contains different pungent components with different pungent characteristics. Therefore, there are differences in pungent sensation and in how long each can be preserved and in how each appears. It is important to put each pungent spice to its proper use in cooking. Some spices undergo changes in pungency due to the heating. Spices whose pungent components function enzymatically are not suitable for cooking with heat.

7. Coloring compounds contained in spices are classified as oil-soluble or water-soluble. It is necessary to put each type of spice to its proper use to achieve the coloring effect desired.

List of Common Herbs and Spices and Their Uses


Sweet spice of Caribbean origin with a flavor suggesting a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, hence its name. May be purchased as whole, dried berries or ground. When using whole berries, they may be bruised--gently crushed with the bottom of a pan or other heavy instrument--to release more of their flavor.

Green-gray fruit or seed of plan of parsley family; available whole and in extracts; unmistakable strong licorice flavor. Used extensively in confections, sweet pastries, and as a flavoring in liqueurs.

Sweet, warm flavor with an aromatic odor, used whole or ground. Good with lamb, fish, roast, stews, ground beef, vegetables, dressing and omelets.

A pungent flavor, use whole leaf but remove before serving. Good in vegetable dishes, fish and seafood, stews and pickles.

All-purpose Spice Island seasoning with onion and celery and salt. Use with poultry dishes, Swiss steak and tomato- based sauces.

Capers are the small buds of a shrub grown in the Mediterranean. They are pickled in vinegar or dried and salted.

Has a spicy smell and aromatic taste. Use in cakes, breads, soups, cheese and sauerkraut.

Sweet spice native to India from ginger family. Used for coffee cake, sweet breads, fruit salad dressings, cookies, cakes, pickling spice.

Very hot ground spice derived from dried cayenne chili pepper.

Mild, sweet herb with a flavor reminiscent of the onion, to which it is related.

Green, leafy herb resembling flat leaf (Italian) parsley with a sharp, aromatic, somewhat astringent flavor. Also called fresh coriander and commonly referred to as Chinese parsley.

Popular sweet spice for flavoring baked goods. The aromatic bark of types of laurel trees, it is sold as sticks or ground.

Chervil, fresh or dried, has a delicate flavor, and the fresh leaves look a bit like parsley. It's good when subtle seasoning is desired.

Rich and aromatic East African spice used ground in baked goods and whole in pickling brines and as a seasoning for baked hams. Provides flavor to both sweet and savory recipes.

Small spicy-sweet seeds of the coriander plant, which is also called cilantro or Chinese parsley. Used whole or ground as a seasoning. Particularly used for sausages and variety meats.

Do you know the difference between truffle oil and truffle juice? Be informed read this later, The Difference Between Truffle Oil and Truffle Juice

A Middle Eastern spice with a strong, dusky, aromatic flavor. Use in chili, marinades, and basting sauces, and add to huevos rancheros or other egg dishes.

Generic term for a blend of spices commonly used to flavor East Indian-style dishes. Most curry powders will include coriander, cumin, chili powder, and turmeric.

Fine, feathery leaves with a sweet aromatic flavor sold fresh or dry.

Crisp, refreshing, mildly anise-flavored bulb vegetable. Seeds and leaves are both used as a spice. Has a sweet hot flavor. Wide variety of uses. Popular for seasoning pork roasts and fish dishes.

A balanced blend of sweet herbs, each of which has an affinity for the other. Buying these herbs premixed avoids the risk of a possible flavor imbalance. Use for omelets, egg and cheese dishes, meats, game, meatloaf, sauces and gravies.

Mixture used to season roast meat, poultry, and stir fry dishes. Ingredients include anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger.

Member of the same group of plants as the onion. Robust flavoring, available as garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic chips, garlic seasoning powder, and garlic juice, in a huge variety of dishes.

Ginger is a fresh, pungent root sold fresh, dried or ground. It is used as a confection or condiment. It may be found crystallized or candied, ground or as a syrup.

From juniper, an evergreen shrub. Add to marinades and sauces for game and lamb.

Produced from the same fruit of the nutmeg tree.

Pungent, aromatic herb used dried or fresh to season meats, particularly lamb, poultry, seafood, vegetable and eggs.

A blend of seasonings designed to enhance the natural flavor of most foods without introducing flavor overtones of its own. A delicate seasoning long a favorite in oriental cooking. Intended for seasoning vegetables and mild-flavored meats; also has an affinity for dishes with acid ingredients, such as tomatoes and wine.

The most common commercial types of mint are spearmint and peppermint. Refreshing, sweet herbs used fresh or dry to flavor lamb, poultry, vegetables and fruits.

Mustard is available in three forms: whole seeds, powdered (referred to as dried mustard), and prepared (which is made from powdered or coarsely ground mustard seed mixed with liquid such as vinegar or wine).

Popular baking spice that is the hard pit of the fruit of the nutmeg tree. May be bought already ground or for fresher flavor, whole.

Aromatic, pungent and spicy Mediterranean herb. Use fresh or dried for all types of savory dishes. Especially popular with tomatoes and other vegetables.

The ground dried pod of a variety of capsicum. Paprika is more than a garnish. It is a seasoning that is a food enhancer for many dishes, including casseroles, baked potatoes, appetizers, rarebit, chicken, veal and salad dressings.

A low growing member of the celery family. Available in two varieties: the curly leaf type, and the flat leaf, or Italian, type. Best when used fresh but can be used dry.

Small, ivory-colored seeds extracted from the cones of the species of pine tree, with a rich, slightly resinous flavor.

Used for fruit salads and salad dressings, sprinkled over yeast breads or rolls before baking, use in cottage cheese, cream cheese, scrambled eggs, pie crust, cheese sticks, fruit compotes, and noodles.

A blend of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves in proper proportions. Used for pumpkin pie, gingerbread, cookies, fruits, squash, sweet potatoes, applesauce, and other apple dishes.

A perennial of the mint family. Use with partridge, duck, poultry, lamb, veal, seafood and vegetables. A strong, aromatic flavor.

Orange yellow in color, this spice is used to flavor or color foods. Use in soup, chicken, rice and fancy bread.

Pungent herb used either fresh or dried that goes particularly well with fresh or cured pork, lamb, veal, poultry or vegetables.

The dried brownish-green leaves of a plant of the mint family; has an aromatic piquant flavor. Blends well with other herbs. May be used alone or in combination with other herbs in stuffings for meat, fish or poultry; egg dishes; sauces; soups; meatloaf and hamburgers; stews; beans; cabbage; peas; and tomato juice.

Versatile annual with sweet, nutty flavor used in appetizers, breads, meats and

Small member of the onion family with brown skin, white-to-purple flesh, and a flavor resembling a cross between sweet onion and garlic.

Asian seasoning and condiment usually made from soybeans, wheat or other grain, salt and water. Chinese brands tend to be saltier than Japanese.

Tabasco is a liquid pepper seasoning. It is hot, so use judiciously; a few drops go a long way.

Fragrant, distinctively sweet herb used fresh or dried as a seasoning for vegetables, salads, chicken, light meats, seafood and eggs.

Fragrant, clean-tasting, small leafed herb, popular fresh or dried as a seasoning for poultry, light meats, seafood or vegetables.

Turmeric is the root of a plant belonging to the ginger family. Turmeric is somewhat medicinal in aroma and should be used with restraint. Used primarily in pickling.

Traditional English seasoning or condiment; an intensely flavorful, savory and aromatic blend of many ingredients, including molasses, soy sauce, garlic, onion and anchovies. Popular as a marinade ingredient or table sauce for foods, especially red meats.

The thin brightly colored outermost layer of a citrus fruit's peel.

Do you like meat? Try this delicious recipe sometime, Home-Style Corned Venison- Deer Meat Recipes

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