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Herb and Spice

Updated on April 1, 2011

Herbs and Spices

Welcome to this cool Hub Page that is all about herbs and spices and their many uses.

Here is where you'll find an overview style informational page concerning the many different herbs and spices that are in common use for culinary enhancement of flavour, aroma and overall improvement.

This is not about healing or health benefits of herbs and spices, but will just concentrate solely on their culinary uses in a variety of cooking styles. I also intend to be producing several spin-off hub pages from this main topic, which will be able to go into more detail about the individual herbs and spices, their properties, culinary uses from different cultures from around the world and as much additional associated details as I can find through extensive research. It is necessary to break them up into smaller, more digestible pieces as to do this on this page will make it far too long!

Culinary Herbs

The main group of culinary herbs are those that fall into the the French "fines herbes" category as well as other commonly used flavour and aroma enhancing herbs.

To begin with, the main group of five "fines herbes" are:

Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Marjoram and Chervil (Cicely may be added to these).

These herbs are used extensively in French cuisine and are regarded by the French (who, lets face it are the gastronomic champions of the world!) as absolutely essential.

Other popular herbs used in cooking include:

  • Anise
  • Bay
  • Caraway
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic Chives
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa)
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Lemon Grass
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savoury (Summer)
  • Savoury (Winter)
  • Thyme

These herbs find their way into a variety of dishes from soups and stews, to fish dishes, meat dishes, salads and hors d'oeuvres.

The following group of herbs are often used as potherbs and some of them are familiar weeds! These should not be discounted, as they actually make highly nutritious dishes from stews to soups and casseroles:

  • Angelica
  • Borage
  • Dandelion
  • Goosegrass
  • Horseradish
  • Hyssop
  • Lovage
  • Nasturtium
  • Rue
  • Sorrel
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Woodruff

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but is meant to represent the more popularly used culinary herbs and potherbs.

Culinary Spices

Depending upon which style of cooking you do, or which type of dish you are attempting, the use of one, two or more spices can make a huge difference to the overall flavour and aroma of the dish.

Often it is the seeds of certain herbs that become have a dual role of both herb and spice, so each spice is noted herb seeds are used.

Here are some of the more common spices that we often use everyday and take for granted:

Pepper (black)Pepper (white), Salt, Mustard, Garlic, Ginger

Of the more adventurous, here are a list of culinary spices that are fairly commonly used:

  • Ajwain
  • Allspice
  • Amaretto
  • Camphor
  • Caraway seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Juniper Berry
  • Nigella
  • Nutmeg
  • Paprika
  • Pomegranate seed
  • Poppy seed
  • Saffron
  • Sarsaparilla
  • Sassafras
  • Sesame seed
  • Vanilla

And here are the main group of spices used in Indian cooking, which is extremely popular in the UK:

  • Asafoetida
  • Amchur
  • Coriander seed
  • Cardamom pod
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Cumin seed
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Mace
  • Star Anise
  • Tamarind
  • Turmeric

While this list is not exhaustive, it is meant to show the more common spices that are used in cooking. For a great generic Indian Curry Recipe using many of the above spices, my first spice specific hub page is up and running at Indian Spice.

Herbs and Spices for Cooking

Here I'll divide up the herbs and spices and place them into their respective main uses for cooking certain dishes:

Pork: Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Mustard

Beef: Horseradish, Mustard, Pepper (black or white), Garlic, Thyme

Lamb: Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Garlic

Chicken: Garlic, Mustard, Pepper (black)

Fish: Lemon Balm, Parsley, Thyme

Vegetables: Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Mint,

Salads: Borage, Nasturtium, Mint, Lemon Balm, Sorrel, Chives, Garlic Chives

Pasta: Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Mint, Chives, Pepper (black)

Puddings: Anise, Cardamom, Angelica, Lovage

This is meant as a simple overview with more hub pages planned that will go into much more detail with the herbs, spices and their uses with different dishes. In the meantime, there is a good information resource that is building up nicely with a fuller description of each herb and spice at Spice Nest. It's my main spicey site that I'm slao building into an authority on herbs and spices so until I can get my proposed batch of hub pages up and running (it all takes time, you know!) that is a good starting point.


Submit a Comment

  • honestway profile image

    honestway 9 years ago from Spain

    Many years ago, when I first had to fend for myself I started cooking and learned how to use herbs and spices from an Indian guy that I worked with, specifically for indian cooking which I loved then and still do today. No more bland cardboard tasting food for me!

  • socalweddingdj profile image

    socalweddingdj 9 years ago from San Diego

    I am a bland cook. This is definitley a help! And from the first poster, I love Simon and Garfunkel!

  • honestway profile image

    honestway 9 years ago from Spain

    I know, I think I bit off too big a mouthful with this hub! What I'll do is keep this as an overview and write some more pages that go into greater detail on a smaller group of herbs and spices.

  • Lissie profile image

    Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

    You have statted a big topic here! You might need a few related hubs on this topic! Even when we camped in outback Australia I couldn't survive without a few spices!

  • honestway profile image

    honestway 9 years ago from Spain

    That sounds like a good idea - and a shed load of work LOL!!! But I could pick the major herbs and spices and go with those I guess. I have some great generic pasta recipes I use...

  • nicolap profile image

    nicolap 9 years ago from Dorset, UK

    How about a hub per spice and a couple of recipes - my husband will be very pleased if you improve my cooking!

  • honestway profile image

    honestway 9 years ago from Spain

    Hi Nicola,

    I've got some work to do here to get this hub up to speed - The subject is too large for one hub, so I'm looking at breaking it down in to several hubs with this more as an overview type hub. Let's see how this all pans out!


  • nicolap profile image

    nicolap 9 years ago from Dorset, UK

    I'm a terrible cook so this information will come in handy as I'm trying to improve my cooking skills.

  • honestway profile image

    honestway 9 years ago from Spain

    Hi Annette, that was fast, I only just started this hub! To partner it I've just started another one purely on spices that I will flesh out in the coming days!

  • Annette Rozen profile image

    Ann Martin 9 years ago

    liked your hub. i love coking with fresh spices (and i like the simon and garfunkel song - parsley sage sweet basil and thyme!)