LIST OF SPICES AND HERBS
Ajwain – Typically ground, these seeds have a strong fragrance with thyme and cumin undertones. They are used in Asian, Ethiopian, North Indian, Iranian, North Indian and Pakistani cuisines. They pair well with starchy foods like flatbreads, green beans, root vegetables and legumes. Ajwain seeds are excellent mixed with lemon and garlic with fish dishes.
Allspice – This individual spice is commonly confused as a spice mixture. It has flavors of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and a little pepper, but it is in fact a single spice. It is a notable flavor in Jamaican Jerk seasoning and does well when mixed with other, similar spices.
Almond Meal – Almond Meal is made from ground almonds that have not been blanched. The consistency and application is more similar to corn meal than flour, and is not the same as almond flour. Our Almond Meal is made from almonds grown in California.
Anise Seed – Not to be confused with Star Anise, Anise seeds are small and look similar to Dill and Fennel seeds. Their aroma is sweet and licorice-like while their flavor is a bit fruity and warm. They are most notably used in Italian pizzelles, Australian humbugs and Peruvian picarones.
Annatto/Achiote Seed – One spice with two names, Achiote is the name of the spice created from grinding Annatto seeds. This spice is typically used for coloring more than flavor but can be cooked in oil to infuse a little flavor. It has a pleasant peppermint and flowery aroma and is essential for making Yucatan Recado Rojo and achiote paste.
Arrowroot Powder – Virtually flavorless, Arrowroot powder is a gluten free starch that can be used as a thickener in sauces, clear glazes, gravies and pie fillings. It can be substituted anywhere flour or cornstarch is called for and is in some cases considered to be superior to the two previously mentioned.
Asafoetida – Another popular spice for those following gluten free diets, Asafoetida is the dried latex that comes from the taproot of several species of Ferula (a perennial herb). Primarily used in Indian cooking, it has an aroma that might have you second guessing its culinary use at first smell. Once cooked in oil the aroma mellows and the onion-like flavor can shine through a bit more.
Beetroot Powder – Beetroot Powder is used as both a colorant and flavoring component. Made from dehydrated beets, Beet Powder is sometimes add as a sweetener in juices or sauces.
Bell Peppers – Technically part of the chile pepper family, bell peppers come in a wide variety of colors and range in flavor from a tiny bit sweet to crisp and almost tart. Bell Peppers have a SHU rating of 0.
Cacao – Sometimes confused with cocoa (hot chocolate), cacao is the pure, unprocessed and dried seed of Theobrama cacao. It can be found in nib form or ground into a powder. The flavor is intense with a subtle mouth – cooling finish. Cacao is the ingredient that is emphasized on wrappers of dark chocolate bars.
Caraway Seed – Most notably used to flavor rye bread, Caraway Seed has a sharp pungent aroma like dill and a sweet, warm, biting flavor that is reminiscent of anise. It seems to counteract the fattiness of meats including pork, duck and goose. It is also used in a variety of foods such as cabbage soup, goulash, pickles, sauerbraten, sauerkraut, sausages and German kummel liqueur.
Cardamom – Cardamom aka the Queen of spices in India (with pepper as her King) is used to intensify both sweet and savory flavors. Cardamom itself has a light lemony flavor, with an aroma that is rugged, but gentle, biting and fruity. Cardamom can be used in its whole pod form or the seeds can be extracted and ground into a powder depending on the type of dish being prepared.
Celery Seed – Our conventional Celery products is cultivated in India. Celery seeds and Ground Celery Seeds have more “earthy” taste that is still fresh and light. Depending on the season of the latest harvest, our organic Celery Seeds and Ground Celery is sourced from Egypt, India, the Netherlands and the US.
Chia Seeds – Chia Seeds are an incredibly versatile seed. When dry they are similar to poppy seeds, but once you add them to water they can increase in size up to 12 times their original size. Chia seeds are a popular Super Food because they contain more Omega-3 than any other natural source by volume. Their flavor is nutty and changes to slighty sweet when submerged in liquid. Chia seeds can be used in chocolate, oatmeal and jams. You may also find them on breads or pastries.
Chiles – Chiles vary in size and application, but generally add a small level of heat to a dish. We offer a variety of whole dehydrated chiles, as well as chile powders and flakes.
Cinnamon – Cinnamon is the oldest known spice, being referenced in written text in the 5th century. There are 4 distinct types. It actually comes from pieces of tree bark that have been sun dried. After drying, the bark is cut into strips or ground into a powder. There are a variety of cinnamon types, and each has a slightly different flavor as well as a different volatile oil content that determines its intensity. Cinnamon is used in baking and can also be found in an assortment of savory dishes.
Citrus Zests and Juice Powders – Fruit zests are the outermost skin of citrus fruits that do not include the white pith between the fruit and the peel. Zests can be reconstituted and used in baking recipes. They are also extremely popular with beer brewers for any beer that features a fruity flavor. The juice of these different fruits can also be dried and converted into a pure powder. These powders are popular in baking and cooking when a liquid component is not necessary.
Cloves – Cloves are probably the only spice that can be used by stabbing it into the food you’re cooking and just letting it sit. This popular way to flavor a holiday pork roast or ham is truly unique and also provides an aesthetic appeal. They can also be used whole when cooking liquids, such as cider, but they should be removed before serving. Ground cloves are used in spice blends such as Pumpkin Pie Spice, Chinese Five Spice and Garam Masala.
Cocoa Powder, Black Onyx – Cocoa powder is the processed, sweeter version of the natural cacao. Black Onyx Cocoa Powder had an extremely smooth flavor and gives color to one of America’s most iconic cookies, the Oreo. The sweet flavor works well with desserts, smoothies and even as a secret ingredient in steak rubs.
Coriander – The plant that produces coriander seed is one of three plants that produce both an herb and spice. The herb produced by this plant is Cilantro. Coriander is popular in Indian and Mexican dishes and provides a warm earthiness to dishes along with citrusy undertones. It is a popular ingredient with beer brewers.
Cubeb Berry – The flavor of Cubeb can be described as a mix between black pepper and allspice, with a small kick of spiciness. Cubeb berries can be used in the same applications as cloves and allspice, as they have a distinct, intense flavor. It works as a great ‘secret ingredient’ or as a substitute for black pepper.
Cumin – Cumin has long been an essential ingredient in cuisines around the world and has only relatively recently become mainstream as a spice in the US. Cumin has a very distinct earthy, nutty and spicy flavor with a warm aroma with hints of lemon. It is an ingredient in many spice blends and is used in bean, couscous, curry, rice and vegetable dishes.
Dill Seed – The plant that produces dill seed is a plant that produces both a spice and an herb, with the herb being dill weed. In the United States, dill is probably most associated with the flavor of dill pickles. In German, Russian and Scandinavian cuisines it is a popular spice used in cooking cabbage, onion, potatoes and pumpkin. The flavor is clean and pungent with anise undertones.
Extracts – Extracts made strictly with a spice or herb and a form of alcohol and should not be confused with “natural flavorings.” The spice or herb is submerged in the alcohol for a period of time, and therefore infuses the alcohol with flavor. The spice or herb is then typically removed from the alcohol before using. When making homemade extracts the herb or spice does not need to be removed, but keep in mind that the flavor will continue to intensify for as long as the herb or spice is submerged.
Fennel – Fennel Seed, called “the fish herb” in Italy and France, has two types, sweet and bitter. Bitter Fennel is the type that is typically referred to when the word ‘fennel’ is used in the United States. It has a warm, licorice type aroma with a flavor that is slightly sweet with camphorous undertones. It is used in beet, lentil, potato and meat dishes and adds flavor to Sauerkraut.
Fenugreek – Fenugreek seeds look more like small, caramel colored pebbles than seeds. They are extremely popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking and are used in a variety of curry powders. The flavor is nutty and bittersweet with a pungent, spicy aroma that has undertones of butterscotch and sweet nuts. The plant that Fenugreek Seeds come from also provide us with the herb Fenugreek Leaves.
Galangal Root Powder – Galangal Root Powder is a star ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine. Galangal is a cousin of ginger and has a more piney and menthol flavor. Galangal Powder is extremely popular in Asia for its medicinal properties. Galangal pairs well with beef and works well in soups, stews and curries.
Garlic – Vampires beware, Americans eat an average of 3 ½ pounds of garlic per year and are thus almost inedible to all vampires! Garlic has been eaten by humans from the time the pyramids were built and continues to be a great addition to almost every savory food around. It tastes wonderful in combination with most spices and herbs.
Ginger – The ginger plant is a rhizome, producing a plant above the dirt’s surface and a horizontal stem below. These stems are what we consider ‘ginger’. The flavor is fierce and peppery with lemony undertones. Ginger can be used fresh and its juice is promoted as a superfood, being featured in probiotic drinks across the US. Ginger is also extremely popular in desserts like gingerbread and pumpkin pie spice.
Grains of Paradise – Also known as seeds of paradise, Grains of Paradise is a seed from West Africa that can be used in many of the same ways that peppercorns are used. The flavor is peppery and pungent with bitter fruity notes and the aroma is similar to cardamom and clove. Ground Grains of Paradise can be used wherever pepper is called for if you want a more flavorful profile. Grains of Paradise is extremely popular by beer brewers when making summer wheat beers, session pale ales and Belgian witbiers.
Horseradish Powder – Horseradish Powder is an excellent addition to egg or cream-based sauces for a zingy, potent end result. Horseradish Powder is an essential ingredient in cocktail sauce and adds a welcome warmness to winter meat dishes, especially roast beef or prime rib.
Juniper Berries – Juniper Berries come from an evergreen shrub that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In Europe Juniper Berries are used in marinades for pickled elk and beef. Juniper berries are also important to flavoring sauerkraut. In the United States these berries might be most notably use as a flavoring for gin.
Long Pepper – Long Pepper is now considered an exotic spice, but it was used just as often as black pepper before the discovery of the “new world.” During this time Long Pepper was used wherever some extra heat was called for. After the discovery of the “new world” and the commercial transportation of chile peppers, it decreased in popularity, as cooks had access to ingredients that better fit the heat component called for in a variety of dishes.
Mace – Mace is the little known, lacy covering of nutmeg. Mace is removed from the outside of nutmeg in strips known as mace blades and can be ground after drying for easy culinary use. The flavor is warm with hints of lemony sweetness. It is often described as similar to but more delicate than nutmeg. Mace is considered a savory spice and works well as a replacement for nutmeg in lighter colored dishes where the dark specks of nutmeg are unwanted.
Malheb – Mahlab is the dried kernel of the St. Lucie Cherry Tree. It has a delicate almond flavor with hints of cherries and roses. It works especially well in combination with apricots, rose water, pistachios and dates. Maleb is not very popular in American dishes but is used by Greek-Americans as an ingredient in baked goods.
Mustard – Mustard seeds come in a variety of colors including yellow (also called white), brown and black. The darker the mustard seed, the more intense the flavor is when ground. Ground mustard is used to make mustard sauces and whole mustard seeds are used for pickling applications.
Nigella Sativa – Nigella Seeds are popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. They are typically added to curries and vegetarian dishes after they are roasted. The seed itself has a little bit of a crunch which makes is a nice topping for flatbreads and rolls. Nigella seeds work well with other earthy spices like cumin, fennel seed and turmeric.
Nutmeg – Nutmeg is the seed of a yellow brownish edible fruit that grows on an evergreen tree. When picked, the nutmeg seed is covered in mace which is scraped off and sold as a separate spice. Nutmeg is typically solid all the way through and is most commonly used in its ground form. Nutmeg works well with hearty dishes such as lamb and mutton recipes, tomato sauces and vegetable stews. Nutmeg is always a popular flavor in baking and cold weather beverages.
Onion – The onion is also known as the onion bulb or common onion. When used fresh onion is considered a vegetable and in its dried, ground form is considered a spice. Onion is very popular inside of the United States, but also outside of this country with Libyans eating an average of 66.8 pounds of onion per capita.
Paprika – Paprika is a mild chile powder used frequently in South American, Hungarian and Spanish cuisine, with the popularity in the US rising consistently in the past 10 years. It has complex flavor undertones including a smoky flavor from smoked paprika and a slightly sweet, earthy flavor from domestic paprika.
Pepper – Peppercorns come in a variety of colors. Black, green and white peppercorns all come from the Piper nigrum plant. The color differences depend on the maturity of the berry as well as the drying process. Pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all, instead they are berries from the Peruvian peppertree. Peppercorns are similar to wine in the way that the flavor nuances of the peppercorn will be determined by the area in which it is grown.
Poppy Seed – Poppy seeds are extremely tiny ‘blue’ seeds. It takes 900,000 of these seeds to make up a single pound of weight. Poppy seeds are popular in salad dressings, vegetable dishes, muffins and rolls. They give food a little crunch and have a nutty flavor profile.
Porcini Powder – Porcini Powder is made from ground dehydrated Porcini mushrooms, and has a much more intense and concentrated flavor compared to their fresh counterparts. Porcini Powder can be used to add depth and umami to a dish with an even flavor distribution, and without the texture of whole mushrooms.
Saffron – Saffron is the most expensive and most counterfeited spice in the world. The production of saffron is extremely labor intensive, as saffron is the pistil of a flower that must be picked by hand, with an average of only three to five pistils being produced per plant. Saffron is used in a variety of applications including being a seasoning, fragrance, dye and medicine.
Sesame Seed – Sesame Seeds come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, black and red. They are popular in Chinese stir fry and Middle Eastern spice blends. Sesame Seeds can also be used on baked goods such as breads, hamburger buns and pastries.
Shallots – Shallots have a flavor profile somewhere between onions and garlic. They are a delightful replacement for either in a dish that you want to give a little extra flavor. Shallots are often used in Indian curries and different types of lentil dishes.
Star Anise – Not to be confused with anise seed, star anise is a spice that has a shape similar to a star and typically has 8 points, but can have more or less. In the United States star anise is used similarly to cloves in application. The whole pods are used as mulling spices and the ground pod is used in baking and cold weather beverages.
Sumac – Sumac is a ground berry that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has an astringent, tart but fruity taste and a very faint aroma. Sumac is extremely popular in Middle Eastern dishes where you can find it in salads, meat and fish dishes and rice.
Sweeteners – Sweeteners encompass much more than just sugar these days. From dehydrated molasses to dried agave powder there is a wide selection of sweeteners for everyone whether you want a secret ingredient for your BBQ sauce or you are trying to make more health-conscious decisions in your eating habits.
Turmeric – Most likely known for its health benefits, turmeric is a powder ground from the plants rhizome. Turmeric is a main ingredient in masalas, Ras el Hanout and curry powders and pastes. Turmeric can also be used as a natural coloring for foods or even clothing, as the powder’s intense color will stain cooking ingredients, your clothes and even your hands.
Vanilla – Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron, but even with a high price tag it is extremely popular for its heavenly flavor. The most popular types of vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti, and they each have their own unique flavor nuances. Vanilla beans are also grown in Papua New Guinea and Uganda, although these types are lesser known. Vanilla is commonly used for making desserts, beverages and liquors.
Basil – There are more than 50 species of basil, but almost all basil used in the United States is one species that comes from either California, Egypt or France. Basil has a better flavor when dried, as opposed to fresh. Dried basil has anise, pepper and minty undertones and it somehow sweet yet savory at the same time.
Bay Leaves – Bay leaves are the whole dried leaves of a tree in the laurel family. Bay leaves have a much more pleasant flavor when dried, with has a higher volatile oil content. Bay leaves are used in their whole form in soups and stews and are removed before serving. Ground bay leaves are added to seasoning blends and dishes to give an earthy flavor with undertones of nutmeg and clove.
Celery Flakes – Celery Flakes add a great authentic celery taste, though rehydrate they do not accurately mimic the texture of fresh celery. With a bright and fresh flavor, they can also be used as a garnish.
Chervil – Chervil is not very popular in the United States on its own but is used to make the blend Fines Herbs. Even in France Chervil is not very popular, most likely because it is related to an infamous English weed called Cow Parsley. For this reason, the French only use chervil in the previously mentioned Fines Herbs or in making béarnaise sauce.
Cilantro Leaves – Many people know cilantro as the herb that people love or hate, saying it either has a delicious flavor or tastes like soap. Cilantro is a key ingredient in authentic Mexican, Caribbean and Asian dishes. In the United States cilantro is used in beans, salsas, soups and dips.
Curry Leaves – Curry leaves are an essential part of Southern Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines. They are used in a similar way to bay leaves, but unlike bay leaves they do not need to be removed before serving because they are much softer. Curry leaves are used in curry, fish, lamb, lentil and vegetable dishes.
Dill Weed – In the United States dill weed is most recognized for the “dill flavor” that it gives to dill pickles. Besides pickles, dill is used to give fish a recognizable crisp flavor. In Europe, dill weed has a much wider range of uses. It is considered a key herb in dishes such as salads, sauces, spreads, soups and fish. Visually it is similar to rosemary, but it is a more vibrant green color.
Dried Chives – Chives are the smallest member of the onion family, and instead of eating the bulb it is the scapes (the long flowering stems that rise from the bulb) that are utilized. They can be used in any recipe that calls for green onion and work well in cream-based products. Some of the most popular uses for chives are flavoring butters, cream cheese and sauces or dressings.
Dried Fenugreek Leaves – Dried Fenugreek Leaves are extremely aromatic, with a strangely addictive bitterness. Though they are often used as a garnish, they are very flavorful and it can be easy to overwhelm a dish.
Dried Rose Petals – There are two different types of roses, with the most common being the deeply colored flowers that come in a bouquet. The second type of roses are culinary roses which have been developed to have a much more pleasing flavor and less of an aesthetically pleasing color. Culinary rose petals are most popular for their use in rose water and are also used in desserts or jams.
Epazote – Epazote is a Mexican herb that gets similar reactions to cilantro when smelled and eaten. Those who enjoy epazote describe the aroma and flavor as earthy and bitter with hints of mint and citrus. Those who do not enjoy epazote describe the flavor and aroma as similar to gasoline, perfume and turpentine. Epazote is used in a number of traditional Mexican recipes including papadzules, bean dishes, enchiladas and moles.
File Powder – Pronounced fee-lay, File Powder is a spice made from dried, ground sassafras leaves. File powder is most notably used in gumbo as a flavoring and thickener all in one. File powder can also be used to season shrimp, scallops and other seafood with rice.
Kaffir Lime – Kaffir lime leaves are the leaves of a bitter lime tree in which the limes are only used for their zest and not their juice. These leaves are popular in Cambodian, Balinese, Malaysian and Thai cuisines and are removed before serving. Kaffir lime leaves are used in the popular Thai dish tom yum and they work well with chicken and snails.
Lavender – Also known as culinary lavender, lavender has an intense floral flavor with a hint of bitterness that can quickly overpower dishes. The aroma of lavender is spicy and slightly floral with undertones of mint and lemon. Lavender is delicious when used in desserts, but it can also be used in savory applications such as chicken, lamb and rabbit dishes.
Lemongrass – Lemongrass is part of the grass family and is popular in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine. It is best when used fresh, but if using dried it should be soaked before use when the dish does not have a large liquid component. Lemongrass provides a light fresh citrus and floral flavor to foods and can even be used to make tea.
Marjoram – Marjoram has a minty, sharp and bitter flavor profile and is popular in European cuisine. It can be used in almost any dish that you would include basil, oregano or thyme in and is an extremely versatile herb. In the United States marjoram is used commercially in salad dressings, soups, cheeses, bologna and poultry seasonings.
Mint – Spearmint is the most called for of the two mints, with peppermint being the lesser called for. Spearmint has a refreshing and mellow pure flavor that is popular in Greek, Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisines. Peppermint on the other hand has a more intense flavor and provides that ‘cold’ sensation on your tongue. It is popular in baking, chocolate sauces and liquors.
Oregano – Oregano is commonly associated with Italy and pizza, but there are two main types of oregano, Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano. Mediterranean oregano is the type used in Americanized Italian dishes and Mexican oregano is more like marjoram and has citrusy, lime-like undertones.
Parsley – Parsley is a popular garnish because of its bright green color, but it can be eaten too! Parsley has a vegetable aroma and flavor that is prominent in Middle Eastern recipes for hummus, baba ganoush and tabbouleh. Parsley also works well in grain-based dishes, with fish and in pastas and soups.
Rosemary – Rosemary has a very distinct, strong flavor that is minty, cooling and somewhat balsamic. The aroma is just as strong and has hints of eucalyptus. Rosemary works well with meats of all kinds, especially lamb, pork, veal and wild game. It also works well with dairy based foods such as cream cheese, butters and cream sauces.
Sage – In the United States sage is an herb that stays in its comfort zone, being an ingredient in poultry seasoning, sausages and cheese, but we think you should take a note from the Brits and make this a staple herb in your kitchen, as it can bring flavor to an incredible number of dishes. With a robust peppery and savory flavor sage can be added to any dish that is rich in fat or has a savory component. It can even be added to dark iced teas for a deliciously new flavor.
Summer Savory – Also known as just ‘savory’, summer savory has a peppery bite and light herby flavor. It is like a cross between mint, marjoram and thyme. Summer savory is slightly milder than its close relative winter savory and is used in hearty dishes such as beans, stews, cabbage, potatoes and stuffing for meat pies. It is sometimes a special ingredient in pickling mixes.
Tarragon – Tarragon is most notable for its use in French cooking. The flavor is light, warm and sweet with hints of anise and mint. It is a key ingredient in the herb blend Herbs de Provence and is typically used in combination with other herbs to highlight their individual flavors. Tarragon works well with dill, parsley, chives and basil and can be used to flavor chicken, mushrooms, eggs, seafood and vegetables.
Thyme – Thyme, the subject of many a spice pun, is popular in a plethora of European cuisines for its strong, fresh, lemony flavor. It is used to give flavor to sauces, vinegars, soups and stews. In the United States thyme is most recognized for its use in Creole cooking to add flavor to blackened meats and fish. It is used in turkey stuffing, sausages and New England clam chowder.