Spices to Know Part 3

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).

Spices

Mustard seeds
Mustard seeds have a bitter, hot flavor with no aroma. They are available in black, brown, and yellow. Yellow seeds have the mildest flavor and black seeds have the strongest flavor. Mustard seeds are a standard component of pickling spices and are blended for prepared mustards.

Nutmeg
The flavor and aroma of nutmeg are strong and sweet, and a small quantity provides a large amount of flavor. Nutmeg is used in many pastries and sweets, but is also important in meat and savory dishes. Nutmeg should be grated directly into a dish. Once grated, flavor loss is rapid.

Mace
Mace is an expensive spice. It is similar to nutmeg, but more refined. Mace is used primarily in pastry items and retains its flavor longer than any other spice.

Peppercorns
Peppercorns vary in size, color, pungency, and flavor. This results in various climate and growing conditions.

Black and White Peppercorns
Black pepper has a warm, pungent flavor and aroma.

White pepper has less aroma than black pepper but is useful in white sauces where the appearance of black speckles is undesirable.

Green Peppercorns
Pickled green peppercorns are soft, with a fresh, sour flavor similar to capers. They are used in spiced butters and sauces or with fish.

Pink Peppercorns
Although pink peppercorns are attractive, their flavor is bitter and pinelike, with less spiciness than true pepper.

Szechuan Pepper
Also known as anise pepper and Chinese pepper, the berries are extremely hot and peppery with citrus overtones.

Poppy seeds
The tiny seeds are round and hard with a sweet, nutty flavor. They are used in breads and pastries.

Saffron
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It takes about 250,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron. There is no such thing as cheap saffron. A tiny pinch is enough to color and flavor a large quantity of foods. Saffron should have a honeylike taste and be a brilliant orange color. It is commonly used with fish and shellfish and rice dishes such as paella and risotto.

Sesame Seeds
Their taste is nutty and earthy, with a heavy aroma when roasted or ground into a paste. Sesame seeds are used for breads and meat dishes.

Tarmarind
Although naturally sweet, tamarind contains %12 tartaric acid, making it very tart. It is used in jams, barbeque sauces, marinades, and is the key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.

Turmeric
Turmeric is only available in dried and usually ground. It has a bright yellow color and strong flavor.

Wasabi
Wasabi is a bit hotter than horseradish. It has a strong aroma and a sharp flavor with herbal overtones. It is commonly served with sushi and can be used to spice up mashed potatoes or a compound butter.

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Spices to Know Part 2

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).

Spices

Paprika
Paprika is a bright red powder ground from specific varieties of red-ripened and dried chiles. Its flavor ranges from sweet to pungent and it has a strong aroma.

Chile powders
Chile powders are made from a wide variety of dried chile peppers ranging from sweet and mild to hot and pungent. Each brand is different and should be sampled before using it.

Crushed chiles
Also known as chile flakes, are blended from dried, coarsely crushed chiles. They are hot and used in sauces and meat dishes.

Cinnamon
High quality cinnamon should be pale brown and thin, rolled up like paper into sticks known as quills. Cinnamon is usually bought ground because the quills are difficult to grind. Cinnamon is often used in pastries and sweets but can be used in lamb and spicy dishes as well.

Cloves
When dried, whole cloves have hard, sharp prongs that can be pushed into other foods to provide flavor. Cloves are extremely pungent, with a sweet, astringent aroma. Cloves are used in desserts, meat dishes, preserves, and liquors.

Coriander
Coriander seeds come from the cilantro plant. They have a sweet, spicy flavor and strong aroma. The leaves carry the same flavor and aroma unlike other plants. They are frequently used in Indian cuisine and pickling mixtures.

Cumin
Cumin has a strong earthy flavor and usually dominates any dish in which it is included. It is used in Middle Eastern, Indian, Mexican cuisines, sausages, and a few cheeses.

Fennel
Fennel seeds taste and aroma are similar to anise, though not as sweet. Whole seeds are used in Italian stews and sausages. Ground seeds can be used in breads, cakes, and cookies.

Fenugreek
Fenugreek is seeds are pebble-shaped and transfer a pale orange color to the foods in which they are cooked. Their flavor is bittersweet, like burnt sugar.

File powder (fee-LAY)
File powder is commonly used as a thickener and flavoring in Cajun and Creole cuisines. It should be added during the last minutes of cooking because it forms srings if allowed to boil.

Galangal
Galangal has a peppery, gingerlike flavor and piny aroma. Also known as glanga root, Thai ginger and Laos ginger, it is peeled and crushed for use in Thai and Indonesian cuisines. Fresh ginger can be substituted.

Ginger
Fresh ginger is known as a “hand” because it resembles a group of knobby fingers. Fresh ginger should be plump and firm with smooth skin. It should keep for about a month if refrigerated. Ginger’s flavor is sweet but fiery. Dried ginger’s flavor is spicier and not as sweet as fresh ginger. It is used with chicken, beef, and curries.

Grains of Paradise
Grains of paradise have a spicy, warm and slightly bitter taste, similar to peppercorns. It is primarily used in West African and Magreb dishes.

Horseradish
Horseradish is usually served grated, creamed into a sauce or as part of a compound butter or mustard preparation. Heat can destroy its flavor and pungency, so it should be added near the end of cooking.

Juniper
Juniper has a sweet flavor similar to pine. Its berries flavor gin and other alcoholic beverages, and are crushed into game dishes, like venison and wild boar.

Read Spices to Know Part 1
Read Spices to Know Part 3

Spices to Know Part 1

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).
spices

Spices

Aleppo Pepper
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
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.

Anise
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.

Star anise
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
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
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
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.

Caraway
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.

Cardamom
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
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
Cayenne is sometimes labeled “red pepper”. Its flavor is extremely hot and it has a bright orange-red color.

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