Tag Archives for " Spices "

January 9, 2016

Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

For centuries herbs and spices have been an integral part of many of the world’s great cuisines. But spices have a history of doing much more than adding life to bland foods. They have been the inspiration for, among other things, trade, exploration, and poetry. Priests employed them in worship, incantations, and rituals, and shamans used them as charms to ward off evil spirits. Nations fought over access to and monopoly of certain spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, when they were rare commodities. Not only were many men’s fortunes made in the pursuit of spices, spices at many periods throughout history literally served as currency.

Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

In Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World, Ben-Erik van Wyk offers the first fully illustrated, scientific guide to nearly all commercial herbs and spices in existence. Van Wyk covers more than 150 species—from black pepper and blackcurrant to white mustard and white ginger—detailing the propagation, cultivation, and culinary uses of each. Introductory chapters capture the essence of culinary traditions, traditional herb and spice mixtures, preservation, presentation, and the chemistry of flavors, and individual entries include the chemical compounds and structures responsible for each spice or herb’s characteristic flavor. Many of the herbs and spices van Wyk covers are familiar fixtures in our own spice racks, but a few—especially thse from Africa and China—will be introduced for the first time to American audiences. Van Wyk also offers a global view of the most famous use or signature dish for each herb or spice, satisfying the gourmand’s curiosity for more information about new dishes from little-known culinary traditions.
People all over the world are becoming more sophisticated and demanding about what they eat and how it is prepared. Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World will appeal to those inquisitive foodies in addition to gardeners and botanists.
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Freshly picked culinary herbs add flavour to food and many are delicious additions to salads. Edible herb flowers such as pot marigold, nasturtium and rosemary can also be added to the salad bowl. Many culinary herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals and when freshly picked and eaten raw they can form part of a well-balanced diet. Raw herbs can also be used to add flavour to oils and vinegars for cooking and for salads.


Parsley leaves gives a fresh flavour to sauces and salads, when added just before serving. The stems and leaves of parsley can also be used in bouquet garni. Parsley tastes particularly good with pasta dishes, omelettes, vegetables, fish and any meat or poultry.


Root parsley, by MarkusHagenlocher.

Parsley is one of the most widely known and used of the culinary herbs. There are two main types of parsley – curly leaf and flat leaf – and both are excellent for culinary purposes. Both of these herbs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they can be used to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes and green salads.


Basil goes with almost any dish but it has a special affinity with tomatoes and is a favourite in Italian cooking.

Sweet basil with its soft green leaves and creamy white or purple tinted flowers is the most popular type of basil. This culinary herb can be used in sauces and salads and to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes such as soups and stews. Perhaps the greatest basil dish is pesto sauce, eaten with spaghetti. This combination makes a wonderfully delicious meal.

There are many other types of basil. Purple ruffle, dark opal and Greek basil are three of the other more unusual varieties, all with differing flavours.




Spearmint and peppermint are two members of the mint family most widely known and used as culinary herbs. There are many varieties of mint, some with distinct scents and flavours and some can be used for a variety of culinary purposes, such as in sweet and savoury dishes, in salads and for herb tea.

Spearmint is a favourite for mint sauce to accompany lamb and tastes particularly good with dishes such as soups, stews, plain meats, fish and lemon-based deserts.


Jar of mint jelly, a traditional condiment served with lamb dishes. Photo by Jeremy Keith from Brighton & Hove, United Kingdom.

Peppermint is also popular as a culinary herb flavouring. This herb is most commonly used as flavouring for sweets and chocolates etc. and is also used to flavour cordials. Fresh peppermint leaves can be used to make peppermint tea and the leaves can be added to fresh green salads.


Thyme can be used to improve the flavour of most dishes. Both the fresh and dried leaves of this herb are used for cooking. Fresh thyme leaves are useful in many savoury dishes.

Thyme has a rich flavour which makes it an ideal accompaniment to roast meats and tastes good in slowly cooked dishes such as stews and soups. The finely chopped fresh leaves may be added to new potatoes or salad.


Thyme by Greenmars.

Thyme is regarded as one of the great culinary herbs and is widely used in European cooking. This herb is an evergreen perennial it is recognisable by its mauve flowers and small leaves.
Warning: Avoid using Thyme if you are pregnant.


This lovely culinary herb has a strong but pleasant flavour. It enhances the flavour of many dishes such as strong tasting fish and some meat dishes but goes especially well with lamb and also tastes good with strong flavoured vegetables.


Flowering rosemary, by geishaboy500.

Rosemary is also used as a flavouring for jams and jellies.

Rosemary is recognisable by its silver leaves, delicate light blue flowers and strong aromatic scent. Warning: Do not use Rosemary if you suffer from epilepsy or have a heart condition.


Sage has a powerful flavour but when used carefully it enhances the flavour of many foods, such as meat dishes, tomato-based sauces, salads and cheese dishes. Sage is most famous as a traditional stuffing for pork, turkey or goose.

There are several varieties of sage and all can be used for culinary purposes. Sage leaves can be used whole in many dishes and the young leaves can be used in green salads.

Sage is used worldwide as a flavouring herb and is among the most widely known and used of the culinary herbs. Sage is recognisable by its aromatic scent and blue or lilac flowers.

Sage is used worldwide as a flavouring herb and is among the most widely known and used of the culinary herbs. Sage is recognisable by its aromatic scent and blue or lilac flowers.


Sage leaves, by Jonathunder.


The sheer enjoyment of eating meals flavoured with wonderful aromatic culinary herbs awaits you.

by Magdalene R Braithwaite.







January 8, 2016

Culinary Herbs and Spices


Any food will be spicier if the cook can season it properly. The art of cooking will be more enjoyable if the cook has mastered the basics of using herbs and spices. Food will be tastier, fragrant and more impressive if the proper spices and herbs are added in the right quantities.

Here is a list of culinary herbs and spices which have proven to be useful in the kitchen.

Herbs: Most herbs are found either in the dried form or in a fresh form and are used in both forms equally. Herbs are regarded as leaves and greener parts of the plant like seeds, bark and the roots.

Spices: One can find the spices in the dry form. They are found in pepper corns, nutmeg, strips, seeds, cinnamon bark and roots.

Basil: This is available as both fresh and in dry form. There are several varieties of the basil even though the sweet basil is the most common. Sweet basil is slightly sweet in nature and has strong flavor.



Bay leaves: Bay leaves are found in fresh form, but the most common form is the dry one. The bay leaves which are fresh have a mild flavor which is more similar to oregano and it is more pungent.


Indonesian bay leaf (Syzygium polyanthum), by W.A. Djatmiko


Cardamom: This has a sweet and spicy flavor and it is highly fragrant. This is considered to be the most prominent in the list of culinary herbs and spices.

Cayenne pepper, chillies, reddish pepper and chilli powder: All these spices can be used in the cooking. Cayenne and dried pepper are used commonly in cooking. Cayenne is hot and has a bright reddish orange.



Cilantro and coriander: The leaves of cilantro and seeds of coriander are the most popular spices used in cooking.

Cinnamon is available in rolled and bark form or found grounded. Cinnamon is sweeter and spicier and is highly fragrant.

Cloves are available either in dry form or as grounded. The flavor of the cloves can be described as something that is between allspice and cinnamon. The grounded cloves are used frequently in curries and during the baking.

Cumin is available either as grounded or with the whole seeds. Cumin has excellent fragrance and taste which cannot be substituted by anything else. They are really pungent.

Curry powder is among the ones in the list of culinary herbs and spices, this should be added in the recipes depending upon the dish. You can either buy it ready made or can prepare it yourself.

Ginger is available in root form and also in grounded form. One can get it grated or minced in small jars. One will be able to prepare pickles out of it and get it dried.



Mint: Mint is fresh, strong and sweeter. This is available in several flavors as it comes in the lemon flavor.


Nutmeg: This is available either as a whole or in grounded form.


Mature mace of nutmeg, photo by AntanO.


Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Oregano is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.


Plectranthus amboinicus. Common names: Indian Borage. Mexican mint. Spanish Thyme, Cuban Oregano. Photo by Mokkie.


Paprika is a spice made from air-dried fruits of the chili pepper family of the species Capsicum annuum. The spice is sweeter, hot and smoky and it has a bright red color.


Bowl of smoked Spanish pimentón, by Badagnani.


Parsley: This is one of the most commonly used herbs in the list of culinary herbs and spices and has a fresh and greenish taste. It is used widely.

Thyme: This is available in dried form. It has a flavor which is quite similar to rosemary and is strong and grounded.

This is merely an introductory list of commonly used culinary herbs and spices. There’s many more, so keep on exploring the wide world of herbs and spices.

Mary Candler commonly consults her list of herbs and spices for many culinary and medicinal purposes. You can too at The Herb Garden Expert where there’s a growing compendium of herb knowledge [http://theherbgardenexpert.com/herb-gardening/Great-Resource/] and how-to information.


Culinary Herb Garden by Patriot Seeds

Culinary Herb Garden by Patriot Seeds

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The Culinary Herb Garden from My Patriot Supply contains a special heirloom seed collection of eight of the best herbs intended for cooking. Discover how easy it is to grow and enjoy your very own collection of kitchen herbs.

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