Notes and Blog

A To Z Of Spices

Posted on July 10, 2016 at 8:25 PM

A To Z Of Spices


 

ALLSPICE: These small dark, reddish-brown berries are so called because their aroma and flavor resemble a combination of cinnamon,cloves and nutmeg. Use berries whole in marinades; for boiling andpot roasting meatsand poultry; in fish dishes, pickles and chutneys. Also available ground and excellent for flavoring soups, sauces anddesserts.

 

 

ANISE: Commonly called asniseed, these small, brown oval seeds havethe sweet, pungent flavor of licorice. Also available ground. Useseeds in stews and vegetable dishes, or sprinkle over loaves and rollsbefore baking. Try ground anise for flavoring fish dishes and pastriesfor fruit pies.

 

 

CARAWAY: Small brown, crescent-shaped seeds with a strong liquoriceflavor and especially delicious as a flavoring in braised cabbage andsauerkraut recipes, breads (particularly rye), cakes and cheeses.

 

 

CARDAMOM: Small, triangular-shaped pods containing numerous smallblack seeds which have a warm, highly aeromatic flavor. You can buygreen or black cardamoms although the smaller green type is morewidelyavailable.

 

 

CAYENNE: Orangey-red in color, this ground pepper is extremely hot andpungent. Not to be confused with paprika which, although related, ismild flavored.

 

 

CHILI POWDER: Made from dried red chilies. This red powder varies inflavor and hotness, from mild to hot. A less fiery type is found inchili seasoning.

 

 

CINNAMON & CASSIA: Shavings of bark from the cinnamon tree areprocessed and curled to form cinnamon sticks. Also available inground form.Spicy, fragrant and sweet, it is used widely in savory and sweetdishes.Cassia(from the dried bark of the cassia tree) is similar to cinnamon,but less delicate in flavor with a slight pungent 'bite'.

 

 

CLOVES: These dried, unopened flower buds give a warm aroma andpungency to foods, but should be used with care as the flavor canbecome overpowering. Available in ground form. Cloves are added tosoups, sauces,mulled drinks,stewed fruits and apple pies.

 

 

CORIANDER: Available in seed and ground form. These tiny, pale brownseeds have a mild, spicy flavor with a slight orange peel fragrance.An essential spice in curry dishes, but also extremely good in manycake and cookie recipes.

 

 

CUMIN: Sold in seed or ground. Cumin has a warm, pungent aromaticflavor and is used extensively in flavor curries and many MiddleEastern and Mexican dishes. Popular in Germany for flavoringsauerkraut and pork dishes. Use ground or whole in meat dishes andstuffed vegetables.

 

 

FENUGREEK: These small, yellow-brown seeds have a slight bitter flavorwhich, when added in small quantities, is very good in curries,chutneys and pickles, soups, fish and shellfish dishes.

 

 

GINGER: Available in many forms. Invaluable for adding to many savoryand sweet dishes and for baking gingerbread and brandy snaps. Freshginger root looks like a knobby stem. It should be peeled and finelychopped or sliced before use. Dreid ginger root is very hard andlight beige in color. To release flavor, 'bruise' with a spoon or soak in hot water before using. This dried type is more often used inpickling, jam making and preserving. Also available in ground form,preserved stem ginger and crystallized ginger.

 

 

MACE & NUTMEG: Both are found on the same plant. The nutmeg is theinner kernel of the fruit. When ripe, the fruit splits open to revealbright red arils which lie around the shell of the nutmeg - and oncedried are known as mace blades. The flavor of both spices is verysimilar -warm, sweet and aromatic, although nutmeg is more delicatethan mace.Both spices are also sold ground. Use with vegetables; sprinkled overegg dishes, milk puddings and custards; eggnogs and mulled drinks; oruse as a flavoring in desserts.

 

 

PAPRIKA: Comes from a variety of pepper (capsicum) and althoughsimilar in color to cayenne, this bright red powder has a mild flavor.

 

 

PEPPER: White pepper comes from ripened berries with the outer husks removed. Black pepper comes from unripened berries dried until darkgreenish-black in color. Black pepper is more subtle than white. Usewhite or black peppercorns in marinades and pickling, or freshly ground as a seasoning. Both are available ground. Green peppercorns are also unripe berries with a mild, light flavor. They are canned inbrine or pickled, or freeze-dried in jars. They add a pleasant, light peppery flavor to sauces, pates and salad dressings. Drain thosepacked in liquid and use either whole or mash them lightly beforeusing. Dry green peppercorns should be lightly crushed before using to help release flavor,unless otherwise stated in a recipe.

 

 

POPPY SEEDS: These tiny, slate-blue seeds add a nutty flavor to bothsweet and savory dishes. Sprinkle over desserts and breads.

 

 

SAFFRON: This pice comes from the stigmas of a species of crocus. It has a distinctive flavor and gives a rich yellow coloring to dishes,however, it is also the most expensive spice to buy. Available insmall packets or jars(either powdered or in strands - the strands being far superior in flavor). This spice is a must for an authentic paella or Cornish Saffron Cake. Also an extremely good flavoring for soups, fish and chicken dishes.

 

 

SESAME SEEDS: High in protein and mineral oil content, sesame seedshave a crisp texture and sweet, nutty flavor which combines well incurries and with chicken,pork and fish dishes. Use also to sprinkleover breads,cookies and pastries before baking.

 

 

STAR ANISE: This dried, star-shaped seed head has a pungent, aromatic smell, rather similar to fennel. Use very sparingly in stir-frydishes.Also good with fish and poultry.

 

 

TURMERIC: Closely related to ginger, it is an aromatic root which isdried and ground to produce a bright, orange-yellow powder. It has arich, warm, distinctive smell, a delicate, aromatic flavor and helpsgive dishes an attractive yellow coloring. Use in curries, fish andshellfish dishes, rice pilafs and lentil mixtures. It is also anecessary ingredient in mustard pickles and piccalilli.

 

 

All spices should be stored in small airtight jars in a cool, darkplace, as heat, moisture and sunlight reduce their flavor.

 

 

If we did not mention your favorite spice let us know we will add it to the list...


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