Herbs And Spices- Do You Know Them All

Herbs And Spices- Do You Know Them All

Angelica Fenugreek

Allspice Garlic

Aniseed Ginger

Balm Mace

Basil Marjoram

Bay leaves Mint

Borage Mustard

Capers Nutmeg

Caraway seed Oregano

Cardamon Paprika

Cassia Parsley

Cayenne pepper Pelargonium

Celery seed Pepper

Chervil Poppy seed

Capsicums Rosemary

Chives Saffron

Cinnamon Sage

Cloves Sesame seed

Coriander Tarragon

Cumin Thyme

Dill Turmeric

Fennel Vanilla

Fines herbs


1. Aromatic herbs and spices have been used in

cooking from the earliest times and they were used

extensively during medieval times when spiced food was

popular. The upsurge in vegetarianism in recent years

has increased awareness of the benefits herbs and spices

can bring to what might otherwise be plain dishes.

Although there is little nutritive value in herbs with the

exception of parsley, they form an important ingredient

in most every menu.

2. Herbs and spices are usually at their best when

picked fresh and used immediately but it is nearly always

more practical and convenient to use them in the dried

state and excellent results can still be achieved. The best

time to gather them for drying and storing is just before

they begin to flower. They should be picked in dry

weather whilst they are still fresh and crips and before

they have been exposed to excessive sunlight. After

removal of all discloured leaves they should be hung up

to dry in bunches or in paper bags. The most satisfactory

and hygienic method and also the cleanest, is to dry them

in a cool oven or in a microwave. With the exception of

sage, which is best dried and stored whole, large leaves

should be picked from the stalk before drying.

3. Herbs should find a place in every kitchen.

They help to bring out the natural taste of food, at the

same time contributing their own subtle flavour and

stimulating the appetite. Herbs should be added at the

start of the cooking process to ensure the flavour blends

into the dish.

4. Herbs and spices constitute additional

seasoning and flavouring agents and, as such, it is

necessary to guard against excessive use. In this

connection it is emphasised that herbs and spices are

used in cooking to improve the dishes natural flavours,

not to hide them.

If particular herbs and spices need to be removed from

the finished product they should be tied up in a small

muslin bag before use and are then easily removed befor


5. Fresh herbs can also make an attractive

garnish. Parsley in particular, both chopped and whole,

is well suited for this purpose. This particular herb is

rich in Vitamin C and should be used frequently.

6. Dried herbs and spices obtained commercially

should only be purchased in small quantities as their

flavour and aroma deteriorate with lengthy storage.

They should only be kept in airtight containers. Flavour

from dried herbs is stronger therefore use only a third of

the amount if substituting dried for fresh.



Angelica: Known for its green candied stalk which is invaluable with

glace cherries as a sweet decoration. A piece of the stalk

added with fruit to be stewed reduces the tartness a little.

Allspice: This is so called because of its flavour, a blend of cloves,

cinnamon and nutmeg. It is the unripe fruit of the pimento

tree. Allspice is ground and used in sauces, pickles,

sausages, fruit pies, cakes and milk puddings.

Aniseed: The fruit and seed of the aniseed plant used for pickles and

confectionery: sweet, spicy in flavour.

Balm: A sweet smelling herb, formerly used as a medicine for

those suffering nervous complaints and depression. It is

now used in soups, stews and casseroles.

Basil: An important culinary herb, which has a nutmeg flavour and

has a special affinity for tomatoes and all dishes that feature

tomatoes, also rich stews, sausages and soups; also used to

make basil vinegar.

Bay leaves: The leaves of the bay laurel or sweet bay tree. They may be

fresh or dried (when the flavour is more pronounced) and

are used in many soups, stews, fish and vegetable dishes, in

which case they can be used in a bouquet garni.

Borage: This grows in swampy soil. The young leaves can be used

in sald. The herb is mainly used in drinks such as claret cup

and Pimms.

Capers: Flower buds of the caper bush dried and stored in vinegar or

brine. Used in pickles and sauces they are graded according

to size, smallest being the best.

Caraway Seed: Grown mainly in Holland the seeds are about 5mm long,

shaped like a moon, brown in colour. They are used in seed

cake and certain breads, sauerkraut, cheese and also some

liqueurs such as Kummel.

Cardamon: Aromatic seeds from the cardamon plant used to flavour

soups, curries, meats and baked goods.

Cassia:Resembles cinnamon in flavour colour and aroma but is

coarser and less expensive. May be used instead of

cinnamon but is less suitable for puddings.

Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne is a red pepper which is obtained by grinding

chillies. It is used on savoury dishes and cheese straws. It is

pungent and very hot and should be used sparingly.

Celery Seed: The seed of the celery plant. Used when celery is out of

season for flavouring soups, stews, fish sauces and cheese

dishes. If used in soup or sauce it should be tied in a piece

of muslin. Celery seeds and salt are ground together to

make celery salt.

Chervil: Chervil has small neatly shaped leaves with a delicate

aromatic flavour. It is used fresh or dry. Because of its

attractive shape it is frequently used in decorating cold

buffets dishes.

Capsicums: The family name for a number of varieties of pepper. There

are two main types: Hot such as chillies and sweet such as

those used as a vegetable.

Chives: Chives are cultivated principally for their leaves which

grown in thick tufts resembling a coarse grass. They may be

cut freely as new leaves quickly replace those taken. In

flavour it is milder than onion and is invaluable in

flavouring hors d’oeuvre, fish, poultry and meat dishes.

Cinnamon: The dried bark of the cinnamon tree. It may be used whole

or finely ground and is used mainly as a spice for flavouring

sweets, puddings, cakes and buns.

Cloves: The dried flower buds of the clove tree. Used in flavouring

fruit, pickles and many other foods.

Coriander: A plant grown for both the leaves and its seeds. Its leaves

are used in oriental cookery and to flavour cold soups and

salads. The seeds which are hot and spicy are an essential

ingredient in curries.

Cumin: Seeds similar to caraway though with a different flavour

which are used in curry powder, seasoning sausages, rice

dishes, soups, cheese and canapes.

Dill: The feathery leaves of this European plant are used as a herb

and the dried seeds as a spice. Dill leaves have a mild

caraway like flavour and need to be used in fairly large

quantities. Used in salads and as a garnish for scrambled

eggs and white meat dishes. Classically used with salmon in

the Scandinavian dish Gravad Lax. The dried seeds are

more pungent and are used to flavour vinegar and dill pickles.

Fennel: Traditionally associated with fish this herb has a strong

aniseed flavour, it can be used in court bouillon when

poaching fish. The tuberous root of Florence Fennel is used

as a delicate vegetable.

Fines Herbs: This is a mixture of fresh herbs usually chervil, tarragon and

parsley and is referred to in many classical recipes.

Fenugreek: This plant belongs to the pea family. The pods contain

brown seeds which are roasted and dried, then ground for

use as a spice. Fenugreek is an ingredient in curry powder.

Garlic: A bulbous vegetable similar to a small onion or shallot. It

has a very pungent flavour and should be sparingly used for

flavouring salds, stews, sauces etc.

Ginger: The root of a plant widely grown in the Far East. It should

be boiled in water and sugar syrup until soft. Ground ginger

is used for baked goods and the whole root is used in

curries, pickles and sauces.

Mace: This is the dried outer of the nutmeg seed. Ground or in

blade form it is used to flavour soups, sausages, cakes and


Marjoram: A sweet herb which may be used fresh in salads, pork, fish,

poultry, cheese, egg and vegetable dishes and when dried,

can be used for flavouring soups, sauces, stews and certain


Mint: Various mints are grown for culinary use but mostly garden

or spearmint is used. An aromatic green leaved herb, the

leaves of which when chopped and mixed with sugar and

vinegar make mint sauce. Used also for flavouring new

potatoes, peas, lamb and cold dishes.

Mustard: The seed of the mustard plant, ground to a fine powder after

most of the oil has been extracted. It is used in mayonnaise,

devilled dishes and welsh rarebit.

Nutmeg: The nutmeg tree which grows in tropical countries bears a

large fruit similar to an apricot which when ripe splits.

Inside the nut is the seed which is the nutmeg. Its main uses

are in baking and pastry work. It can also be used in pastas,

egg and cheese dishes. It is grated and used sparingly.

Oregano: Is similar in flavour to marjoram but stronger. Used in

Italian and Greek style cooking such as salads, soups,

stuffings, pasta sauces, vegetables and egg dishes.

Paprika: A red powder prepared from a variety of sweet red

capsicum. An essential ingredient of goulash and also used

in pizzas and in pasta and chicken dishes.

Parsley: Probably the most commonly used herb. Used in fresh and

dried form as a garnish. It can be added to almost every

salad or deep fried in sprigs as a garnish. Fresh parsley

combined with lemon juice makes an intersting sorbet.

Other uses are dressings, soups, casseroles, fish, cheese,

potatoes etc.

Pelargonium: A plant with snowy flavours and fragrant leaves which adds

an unusual sweet flavour to milk puddings.

Pepper:Dried berries from the shrub of the pepper plant which

grows in tropical climates. The black peppercorn being

unripe and the white fully ripe. They are used whole as a

flavouring agent or when ground for seasoning.

Poppy Seed: Small seeds of the poppy plant. Blue-black in colour.

Mainly used for garnishing bread and rolls but can be used

in pastries, dips, salad dressings and curries.

Rosemary: Rosemary is a strongly flavoured herb and should be used in

moderation. It may be used fresh or dried in sauces, roats,

stews and fish dishes.

Saffron: Grown maihnly in Spain they are the dried strands from the

saffron crocus. This is a flavouring and colouring spice

used in rice dishes and giving a yellow colour. It is very


Sage: Common sage has pale green leaves. It has a strong slightly

bitter taste. It aids the digestion when eaten with fatty

foods. Mainly used as a stuffing for prok, duck and goose.

Sesame Seed: Rich, sweet nut-like flavour. Closely resembles the flavour

of toasted almonds, mainly used to decorate yeast products.

Tarragon: A bright green attractive leaf used fresh to flavour bearnaise

sauce and vinegar. Coloured for decorative purposes in cold

fish and chicken dishes.

Thyme: The root of a plant of the ginger family similar in

appearance to fresh ginger but bright orange when peeled.

Vanilla: Long black pods derived from the climbing orchids. Infuse

a pod in milk or cream when making custard or sweet

sauces. Vanilla essence is extracted from the vanilla pod

and is used for flavouring sweet dishes


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