Below are the names, origins and suggested uses for many herbs & spices. I will add more herbs and spices to this list as time allows. If you have any additional information or requests for information, please email me and I will answer you as soon as possible.
Allspice is the dried, unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. After drying, the berries are small, dark brown balls just a little larger than peppercorns. Allspice comes from Jamaica, Mexico, and Honduras. Allspice is used in Jamaican jerk seasoning and in Jamaican soups, stews, and curries. It also is used in pickling spice, spiced tea mixes, cakes, cookies, and pies. Food producers use it in ketchup, pickles, and sausages.
Aniseed, sometimes spelled as anise, anis or anise seed, is considered a spice with a sweet licorice-like taste. Both seed and leaves from the plant pimpinella anisum carry the licorice taste, but in recipes, either whole or ground seeds are usually used to add distinctive flavors to food. Since aniseed is native to the Mediterranean, you’ll find it used in a number of Greek and Turkish dishes, but its popularity has certainly spread to many other countries and the plant proliferates in the wild in North America.
The Greek drink ouzo has a distinctive aniseed flavor, as do the similar Italian Sambuca, the French Pernod, and the Turkish Arak. It is used in breads, a number of desserts, and also quite often in savory dishes like Indian curries, mole, and a variety of fish and meat dishes, pickles, stews, seafood, beets, cauliflower and pasta sauces.
The dried leaves and stems of an herb grown in the United States and North Mediterranean countries. Has an aromatic, leafy flavor. The flavor and aroma of basil is most intense during the summer months, when it is abundant. For flavoring tomato dishes and tomato paste, turtle soup; also use in cooking peas, squash, snap beans; sprinkle chopped over lamb chops and poultry. Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor. There are two varieties: Turkish (1 to 2 inch long oval) and California (2 to 3 inch long narrow) leaves. The Turkish is said to have the better flavor.
The dried leaves of an evergreen grown in the eastern Mediterranean countries. Has a sweet, herbaceous floral spice note. For pickling, stews, for spicing sauces and soup. Also use with a variety of meats and fish. They are used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread. Rye bread is denser because the limonene from the caraway fruits has yeast-killing properties.
These small dark seeds of a plant grown in the Netherlands. Flavor that combines the tastes of Anise and Dill. For the cordial emmel, baking breads; often added to sauerkraut, noodles, cheese spreads. Also adds zest to French fried potatoes, liver and canned asparagus. It is also used to add flavor to cheeses such as havarti. Caraway seed oil is also used as a fragrance component in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.
In India Cardamom is traditionally used in curry blends, and in Scandinavian countries it is commonly added to breads; however, most of the world’s Cardamom crop is used in Arabic countries as a flavoring for coffee. A small amount of Cardamom will add a tempting flavor to coffee cake, Danish pastry, specialty breads, and apple pie. Try Cardamom the Arabic way and add a little to your ground coffee before brewing, then sweeten and top with cream. Cardamom comes from India, Guatemala, and Ceylon.
The Cayenne, or Guinea pepper, or Bird pepper is a hot, red chili pepper used to flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice known as cayenne pepper. Hot and spicy, cayenne pepper is available year round adding zest to flavorful dishes around the world and health to those brave enough to risk its fiery heat. It is excellent added to cheese dishes and creamy sauces and soups. The common name “cayenne” was actually given to this pepper because of its cultivation in a town that bears the same name in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America. Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and dietary fiber. Cayenne pepper should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar, away from direct sunlight.
Available as fresh leaves or dried and crushed. Fresh has a hint of anise and dry has a hint of parsley flavor. That subtle, tender flavor-part anise, part parsley-that you’ve been trying to identify in the fish sauce, will almost certainly turn out to be chervil. Subtlety is key when using chervil in cooking. Although chervil will never dominate a dish, many cooks use it to enhance the flavors of other herbs accompanying it in recipes. Chervil is an important inclusion in the traditional French fine herbs blend of tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil. Chervil complements scrambled eggs and omelets, fish, poultry, cream cheese and herb sandwiches, salads and even mashed potatoes.
Chili flakes are the dried seeds of chili pods. The seeds and membranes are the hottest parts of a chili. The amount of heat in chili flakes depends on the variety of chili pepper and where it was grown. Crushed dried red chilies can be added to or sprinkled over all kinds of dishes. You can easily make your own by drying fresh red chilies on a radiator and then crumbling them with your fingers. To preserve full flavor, always store in the refrigerator. For a spicy oil, combine 1-2 tablespoons of chili flakes with a cup of your favorite vegetable oil. Lightly simmer for about 10 minutes, allow to cool completely, then strain. Stored in the refrigerator, this oil will keep for about 6 months and can be used in salad dressings, marinades and to spice up your favorite sautÃ©.
Chinese five-spice powder
This is a mixture of ground spices, including anise pepper, cassia, fennel seeds, star anise and cloves. It is a powerful mixture, so use sparingly. When you try this seasoning you will be surprised at how beautifully the flavors — sweet, warm, cool and spicy — blend. This is an extremely versatile mixture suited to rice, vegetables, pork and virtually any type of stir fry. A pinch can add new excitement to muffins, nut breads, or even waffle batter.
An herb which resembles hollow blades of grass, and the smallest member of the onion family. Chives have a mild onion flavor. Available as fresh or freeze-dried hollow stems. Delicate and peppery, mild onion flavor. Often snipped and sprinkled on food just before serving for seasoning. Use for potatoes, eggs, sauces, seafood and salads.
An herb with wide delicate lacy green leaves and a pungent flavor. The seed of the cilantro plant is known as coriander. Although cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, their flavors are very different and cannot be substituted for each other. (Some countries refer to the cilantro as coriander, so any references to “fresh coriander” or “coriander leaves” refer to cilantro.) All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the most commonly used in cooking. Coriander is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, Mexican, Latin American, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian cuisine.
Use for salsa, tomatoes, chicken, pork and seafood.
Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. It is commonly used in cakes and other baked goods, milk and rice puddings, chocolate dishes and fruit desserts, particularly apples and pears. It is common in many Middle Eastern and North African dishes and in flavoring lamb. It is used in curries and pilaus and in garam masala. It may be used to spice mulled wines, creams and syrups. The largest importer of Sri Lankan cinnamon is Mexico, where it is drunk with coffee and chocolate and brewed as a tea. This warm spice is available in sticks and ground into powder, and has many uses. Cinnamon is also reported to be useful in regulating blood-sugar levels in diabetics.
Available in whole or ground, these dried flower buds are used in savory and sweet dishes. Ground cloves are strong so use sparingly. The word clove is from the Latin word for nail “clavus”. The clove is native to the North Moluccas, the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It is cultivated in Brazil, the West Indies, Mauritius, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar and Pemba. Cloves can easily overpower a dish, particularly when ground, so only a few need be used. Whole cloves are often used to stud hams and pork, pushing the tapered end into the meat like a nail. They enjoy much popularity in North Africa and the Middle East where they are generally used for meat dishes, though rice is often aromatized with a few cloves. Cloves are often used to enhance the flavor of game, especially venison, wild boar and hare.
Coriander is probably one of the first spices used by mankind, having been known as early as 5000 BC. The Romans spread it throughout Europe and it was one of the first spices to arrive in America. Coriander is not interchangeable with cilantro, although they are from the same plant. Ground Coriander seed is traditional in desserts and sweet pastries as well as in curries, meat, and seafood dishes with South American, Indian, Mediterranean, and African origins. Add it to stews and marinades for a Mediterranean flavor. Available whole or ground, this warm, aromatic spice is delicious with most meats, particularly lamb.
This warm, pungent spice works well with meats and a variety of vegetables. Cumin “seeds” are actually the small dried fruit of an annual plant in the parsley family. Native to the Mediterranean, cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger than caraway, another spice it’s sometimes confused with. Sold whole or ground, the seeds come in three colors: amber, white or black. Amber is most widely available, but the black has such a complex flavor it should not be substituted for the other two. Cumin is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder. Goes well with beans, chicken, couscous, curry, eggplant, fish, lamb, lentils, peas, pork, potatoes, rice, sausages, soups, stews, eggs.
Curry powder is a blend of up to 20 different herbs and spices, including the commonly used: cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, pepper, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric (which gives curry its characteristic golden color). In Indian cooking curry is freshly ground each day (making it far more flavorful and pungent than the mixes sold in the store), and comes in “standard” and “Madras” (hot) versions. For all Indian curry recipes such as lamb, chicken and rice, eggs, vegetables and curry puffs.
The small dark seed of the dill plant grown in India, having a clean, aromatic taste. Dill seeds are used as a spice, and its fresh leaves, dill, and its dried leaves, dill weed, are used as herbs. Like caraway, its fernlike leaves are aromatic, and are used to flavor many foods, such as gravlax (cured salmon), borscht and other soups, and pickles (where sometimes the dill flower is used). Dill is said to be best when used fresh, as it loses its flavor rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves preserve their flavor relatively well for a few months. Dill is a predominant seasoning in pickling recipes; also adds pleasing flavor to sauerkraut, potato salad, cooked macaroni, and green apple pie.
These little green seeds have a sweet, aniseed-like flavor that pairs well with chicken and fish. Fennel goes well with fish and is used in Italian sausages and some curry powder mixes. Toasting Fennel Seeds accentuates their flavor. Fennel Seed added to meatballs or meat loaf gives an authentic Italian flavor. Saute Fennel Seed with sliced peppers, onion, and sausage for a quick pasta sauce. Refreshing fennel can be added raw to salads, blanched and char-grilled on a barbecue or tossed into stir-fries.
This mixture of ground roasted spices is made from cumin, coriander, cardamom and black pepper and is used in many Asian dishes. Ready-mixed garam masala is widely available, although the flavor is better when the spices are freshly roasted and ground.
Fresh, dried and powdered garlic are available in markets throughout the year, however, fresh varieties from California are in season from June through December. Garlic is arranged in a head, called the “bulb,” averaging about 2 inches in height and diameter consisting of numerous small separate cloves. Both the cloves and the entire bulb are encased in paper-like sheathes that can be white, off-white or pinkish. Although garlic cloves have a firm texture, they can be easily cut or crushed. The taste of garlic is like no other-it hits the palate with a hot pungency that is shadowed by a very subtle background sweetness. While elephant garlic has larger cloves, it is more closely related to the leek and therefore does not offer the full health benefits of regular garlic. Mild and aromatic, the first of the new season’s garlic can be eaten raw in dips or marinades, or blanched and roasted for a creamy accompaniment to roast chicken.
Ginger is a spice which is used for cooking and is also consumed whole as a delicacy or medicine. It is the underground stem of the ginger plant, Zingiber officinale. The ginger plant has a long history of cultivation, having originated in Asia and is grown in India, Southeast Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. Its actual name is Root Ginger. Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes and Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton and vegetarian recipes. Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to spice gingerbread and other recipes. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are not exactly interchangeable. Ginger is also made into candy, is used as a flavoring for cookies, crackers and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger aleâ€”a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but spicier ginger beer which is popular in the Caribbean. Fresh ginger should be peeled before being eaten. For storage, the ginger should be wrapped tightly in a towel and placed in a plastic bag, and can be kept for about three weeks in a refrigerator and up to three months in a freezer.
Mace is the aril (the bright red, lacy covering) of the nutmeg seed shell. Mace and nutmeg are very similar, though mace is somewhat more powerful. Mace is a lighter color and can be used in light-colored dishes where the darker flecks of nutmeg would be undesirable. A small amount will enhance many recipes, adding fragrance without imposing too much flavor. Mace works especially well with milk dishes like custards and cream sauces. It contributes to flavoring light-colored cakes and pastries, especially donuts. It can enhance clear and creamed soups and casseroles, chicken pies and sauces. Adding some to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes creates a more interesting side dish. Some beverages improve with a little mace, especially chocolate drinks and tropical punches.
Whats the difference between marjoram and oregano? Oregano was long considered wild marjoram but the plants do not look particularly similar. To confuse matters further, marjoram is a member of the mint family and considered the twin of thyme. Marjoram has a more mild, sweet flavor than oregano with perhaps a hint of balsam. It is said to be the meat herb but compliments all foods except sweets. Common to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods, marjoram is grown domestically and imported mostly from Egypt. Dried, the herb holds that lovely fragrance and its flavor much better than other herbs do when dried. Marjoram combines well with other seasonings and will enhance so many different dishes. Consider it a natural for meat dishes but don’t hesitate to use marjoram to season vegetables served cooked or raw, fish and chicken or dishes with eggs and/or cheese. It is especially good along with other herbs in beef stew.
Mints are aromatic herbs. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine mint is used on lamb dishes. In British cuisine, mint sauce is popular with lamb. Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, and candies. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint, and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is R-carvone. Methyl salicylate, commonly called “oil of wintergreen”, is often used as a mint flavoring for foods and candies due to its mint-like flavor.
Available ground or as seeds, Mustard seeds are the small seeds of the various mustard plants. Pungent, sharp, hot flavor. The seeds are about 2 mm in diameter, and may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are important spices in many regional cuisines. The seeds can come from three different plants: black mustard (B. nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), and white mustard (B. hirta/Sinapis alba). It is often referred to as “eye of newt. Use for meats, vinaigrettes, seafood and sauces.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
Monosodium glutamate, also known as sodium glutamate and MSG, is a sodium salt of the non-essential amino acid glutamic acid. It is used as a food additive and is commonly marketed as a flavor enhancer. Trade names of monosodium glutamate include Ajinomoto, Vetsin, and Accent. It used to be predominantly made from wheat gluten, but is now mostly made from bacterial fermentation; it is acceptable for celiacs following a gluten-free diet. A report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) compiled in 1995 on behalf of the FDA concluded that MSG was safe for most people when “eaten at customary levels.” However, it also said that, based on anecdotal reports, some people may have an MSG intolerance which causes “MSG symptom complex” commonly referred to as Chinese restaurant syndrome” and/or a worsening of asthmatic symptoms. Subsequent research found that while large doses of MSG given without food may elicit more symptoms than a placebo in individuals who believe that they react adversely to MSG, the frequency of the responses was low and the responses reported were inconsistent, not reproducible, and were not observed when MSG was given with food. While many people believe that MSG is the cause of these symptoms, a statistical association has not been demonstrated under controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to it. In the 2004 version of his book, On Food and Cooking, food scientist Harold McGee states that “[after many studies], toxicologists have concluded that MSG is a harmless ingredient for most people, even in large amounts.” Although once associated with foods in Chinese restaurants, MSG is now used by most fast food chains and in many foodstuffs, particularly processed foods.
Nutmeg or Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree from the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia, or Spice Islands. Until the mid 19th century this was the world’s only source. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree. Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavor. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is a tasty addition to cheese sauces and is best grated fresh. Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog.
Oregano is an important culinary herb. It is particularly widely used in Greek, Spanish and in Italian cuisine. It is the leaves that are used in cooking, and the dried herb is often more flavorful than the fresh. Oregano is often used in tomato sauces, fried vegetables, and grilled meat. Together with basil, it contributes much to the distinctive character of many Italian dishes. Oregano combines nicely with pickled olives, capers, and lovage leaves. Unlike most Italian herbs, oregano works with hot and spicy food, which is popular in southern Italy. Oregano is an indispensable ingredient in Greek cuisine. Oregano adds flavor to Greek salad and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies many fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles. The dish most commonly associated with oregano is pizza. Its variations have probably been eaten in Southern Italy for centuries. Oregano became popular in the US when returning WWII soldiers brought back with them a taste for the pizza herb.
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried Capsicum (e.g. bell pepper). Paprika is principally used to season and color rice, stews, and soups, such as goulash and in the preparation of sausages as an ingredient that is mixed with meats and other spices. It is often smoked to draw additional flavors. In Spain, paprika is known as pimentÃ³n, and is quite different in taste; pimentÃ³n has a distinct, smoky flavor and aroma, and is a key ingredient in several sausage products, such as chorizo or sobrasada, as well as much Spanish cooking.
Parsley is the world’s most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” (parsley is a relative to celery). Available as fresh leaves, curly or Italian (flat leaf), or dried and flaked. Fresh, slightly peppery flavor. Whenever possible, choose fresh parsley over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. Choose fresh parsley that is deep green in color and looks fresh and crisp. Just like with other dried herbs, if you choose to purchase dried parsley flakes, try to select organically grown parsley since this will give you more assurance that the herbs have not been irradiated. If you have excess flat leaf parsley, you can easily dry it by laying it out in a single layer on a clean kitchen cloth. Once dried, it should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Curly leaf parsley is best preserved by freezing, as opposed to drying. Although it will retain most of its flavor, it has a tendency to lose its crispness, so it is best used in recipes without first thawing. Use for poultry, seafood, tomatoes, pasta, soups, and vegetables.
Pepper is the world’s most popular spice ; a berry grown in grapelike clusters on the pepper plant. The berry is processed to produce three basic types: black, white, and green. Black is the strongest (slightly hot with a hint of sweetness) flavor of the three. White peppercorn is less pungent. Black and white are available whole, cracked, and ground. Green peppercorns are packed in brine and are available in jars and cans. Whole peppercorns freshly ground with a pepper mill deliver more flavor than pre-ground. Goes well with cheese, eggs, fish, game, lamb, pork, poultry, salad, sausages, soup, steaks, strawberries, tomatoes, veal.
The seed of a flower, grown in Holland. Has a rich fragrance and crunchy, nut-like flavor. The white poppy seeds form part of the Indian spices. They are added for thickness, texture and also give added flavor to the recipe. The sugared, milled mature seeds are eaten with pasta, or they are boiled with milk and used as filling or topping on various kinds of sweet pastry. Milling of mature seeds is carried out either industrially or at home, where it is generally done with a manual poppy seed mill. Poppy seeds are widely used in Karnataka cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Andhra cuisine, Bengali cuisine, Oriya cuisine, German cuisine, Slovak cuisine, Czech cuisine. Excellent as a topping for breads, rolls and cookies. Also delicious in buttered noodles.
Rosemary is a woody herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods. A tisane can also be made from them. When burned they give off a distinct mustard smell, as well as a smell similar to that of burning which can be used to flavor foods while barbecuing. Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding. Delicious in lamb dishes, in soups, stews and to sprinkle on beef before roasting.
Coming from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the worldâ€™s most expensive spice. Available as threads (whole stigmas) or powder. Pungent, bitter flavor. Most specialty food shops carry saffron, though if it has sat on the shelves for too long it may have lost flavor, so look for bright color. Saffron appears in Moorish, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Its most common function is to color rice yellow, as in festive Indian pilaus and risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavor make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes. It combines well with fish and seafood, infamous as a key ingredient of Spanish paella as well as bouillabaisse. In England, saffron is probably best known for its use in Cornish saffron buns where it is paired with dried fruit in a yeast cake. Because of its expense, intense flavor, and strong dying properties, very little saffron is required for culinary purposes and the key is to distribute it evenly throughout the dish being prepared. Use for bouillabaisse, curries, fish, poultry and rice.
Salt can be used in moderation to add flavor and to bring out the taste of other foods. It also acts as a preservative when it is used in pickling and chutney-making, or when curing meats and fish since it draws out the moisture and prevents decomposition. Table salt can be purchased with or without iodine. Sea salt has a slightly stronger taste than table salt.
Peppery-tasting safe has large, slightly furry leaves when fresh. In Western cooking, it is used for flavoring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavoring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sauted in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton. Dried sage goes particularly well with pork or in pasta sauces and in stuffings. It has a very strong flavor, so use in moderation or it will overpower the dish. Great for meat and poultry stuffing, sausages, meat loaf, hamburgers, stews and salads.
Savory: an herb so bold and peppery in its flavor that since the time of the Saxons it has come to denote not only the herb itself, but also a whole segment of cooking. It is synonymous with tasty and flavorful foods. Available as fresh leaves, dried and crushed or ground. Piquant blend of mint and thyme. Because the leaves are so tender they can be added fresh to salads or used as a toothsome garnish. One efficient way to preserve that fresh, summery flavor is to bottle the herb in vinegar at the height of the season. The ancient Romans were reported to have used savory vinegar as one of their main condiments as well as using savory liberally in their sauces. Savory also dries well. Once dried and chopped, it is an integral part of many herb mixtures, such as Herbs de Provence. This blend of Mediterranean herbs brings out the best in stews, vegetable dishes, pizza toppings, and shines as a seasoning for roasting meats and fish. Also use for beans, lentils, lamb and poultry.
Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many Asian dishes. They are also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste) and the wonderful Middle Eastern sweet call halvah. They are available throughout the year. Add sesame seeds into the batter the next time you make homemade bread, muffins or cookies. Sesame seeds add a great touch to steamed broccoli that has been sprinkled with lemon juice. For healthy sautÃ©ed chicken with sesame seeds, tamari, garlic, ginger and your favorite vegetables for a healthy, but quick, Asian-inspired dinner. Also use for breads, chicken, seafood, noodles, chickpeas.
This fragrant herb has a strong aniseed flavor and is most often paired with fish and chicken dishes. Tarragon is commonly known as a flavoring for vinegar and is used in pickles, relishes, prepared mustards, and sauces. Tarragon also goes well with fish, meat, soups and stews, and is often used in tomato and egg dishes. Tarragon adds distinctive flavor to sauces. Tarragon adds flavor to egg and cheese dishes, light soups and fresh fruits. To baste chicken, fish or seafood, blend Tarragon with butter, chives, and lemon.
The leaves are stems of a shrub grown in France and Spain. Has a strong, distinctive flavor. A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes. Both fresh and dried thyme is available in your local supermarket throughout the year. Fresh thyme should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Dried thyme should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months. Thyme, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. Add thyme to your favorite pasta sauce recipe. Fresh thyme adds a wonderful fragrance to omelets and scrambled eggs. Hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme. When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid. Season soups and stocks by adding fresh thyme.
A root of the ginger family, grown in India, Haiti, Jamaica and Peru. Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. Turmeric powder should kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric rhizome should be kept in the refrigerator. If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying and then grinding it into a fine consistency. Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color. Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander. Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils. Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them. As a flavoring and coloring in prepared mustard and in combination with mustard as a flavoring for meats, dressings and salads.
Dried vanilla pods (beans) are long and black, encasing hundreds of tiny black seeds. Natural vanilla extract is distilled from vanilla pods and is a useful alternative to pods. Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla used today. When choosing pure vanilla, check to make sure the color is clear, it is pure, synthetic vanillin, and is also called crystal vanilla. A dark, murky color is also synthetic vanillin, probably ethyl vanillin derived from coal tar. The dark color may be due to a red dye that has been banned in the US or a caramel coloring. A true amber color is an indication of natural vanilla. Also check the alcohol content: Synthetic products have either no alcohol or up to 2% alcohol. Some vanilla-vanillin blends may have 25% alcohol. Price: Vanilla is extremely labor intensive to produce. If you paid $20.00 for a big bottle (even in Mexico), is not pure vanilla extract. How to store: Extracts can be stored indefinitely in a sealed airtight container kept in a cool dark place. Do not refrigerate vanilla extract. Goes well with apples, apricots, chocolate, custards, fish, fruit, ice cream, plums, shellfish.