Herbs and spices are the kitchen staples used as flavorings. Most herbs are available fresh or dried. Drying alters flavors and aromas, so fresh herbs should be used if possible. Spices are almost always used in their dried form and can be purchased whole or ground. Some plants – dill – can be used as an herb(leaves) and a spice (its seeds).
Aleppo Pepper is made from bright red chilies. It has mild heat with a sharp, sweet, fruity flavor. It adds a Mediterranean flavor and fragrance to foods.
Allspice is available whole, in berries, or ground. Ground allspice is not a mixture of spices although it tastes like a blend of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
The seeds have a strong, sweet flavor, similar to licorice. When anise seeds turn brown, they are stale and should be thrown away. Anise is used in pastries as well as fish, shellfish and vegetable dishes. Also known as aniseed.
It has dried, star-shaped fruit of a Chinese magnolia tree. Its flavor is similar to Anise seeds but more bitter. It is used in many Chinese dishes.
Annatto seeds have a mild, peppery flavor. It is used in rice, fish, shellfish and are crushed to make Mexican achiote paste. Annatto seeds are used in cheeses and margarine because they are commonly used as a yellow-orange food coloring.
Asafetida is also known as devil’s dung because of its garlicky flavor and its strong unpleasant aroma. The aroma is not transferred to food. It is commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Capers come from a bush that grows in the Mediterranean basin. Its unopened buds have been pickled and used as a condiment for thousands of years. The finest capers are the smallest, known as nonpareils. Capers are used in many sauces and are excellent with fish and game.
Probably the world’s oldest spice. It has been traced to the Stone Age, and have been found in Egyptian tombs. It is a crescent-shaped brown seed with a peppery flavor of rye. It is used in German and Austrian dishes.
One of the most expensive spices, second to saffron. Cardamom is highly aromatic and has a lemony flavor with notes of camphor. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines and used to flavor coffee.
Chilies, including paprika, chili peppers, bell peppers and cayenne, are members of the capsicum plant family. Capsicum peppers come in all shapes and sizes and include sweet to extremely hot flavors.
Cayenne is sometimes labeled “red pepper”. Its flavor is extremely hot and it has a bright orange-red color.