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Spices And Integrated Spices - What Should You Know About Them?

Herbs and spices are available in plenty across the world and the reason why they are so sought after is that this range of seasonings and flavorings are blessed with an abundance of exotic aromas and textures that can help in lightening up any meal.

However, as with all natural foods, spices need to be carefully handled and knowing about their specific characteristics goes a long way in understanding their relevance in foods. 

Important Characteristic Of Daily Spices And Herbs


Allspice - allspice are dried berries that are dark brown in appearance and are usually used in savory as well as in sweet cooking. The taste of this particular spice resembles a combination of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and hence the name.
Anise - Anise is a small plant of the parsley family. The leaves and the seeds of this particular spice are known to have a distinctive flavor resembling sweet liquorice.

Anise is used in a variety of savory dishes as well as confections and can also be used to flavor certain drinks such as Pastis, Arak, Anisette de Bordeaux and Ouzo. Anise plays a very important role in South East Asian cooking and they are easily recognized due to their greenish brown 'comma' shaped appearance.
Bay leaf - the bay leaves are aromatic herbs that are native to the Mediterranean region and are used to flavor stews, meats, vegetables and soups. Prior to consuming any prepared dish, the bay leaves are usually removed from the dish. Bay leaves are usually used in their dry form and can be easily stored in a cold dark place for over six months.
Cardamom - cardamom belongs to the ginger family and is an aromatic spice native to India and most other tropical regions. This spice has a particularly pungent aroma along with a warm and zesty sweet flavor.
Cinnamon - the cinnamon spice is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree which is harvested during the rainy season when the bark is more pliable.

After harvesting it is dried thoroughly which then resembles long quills. The cinnamon spice is mildly sweet in flavor and has a pungent after-taste. It is widely used in most sweet dishes and also makes an interesting addition in savory dishes such as in stews and curries.

It is important to know which spices contain volatile oils and how much of their addition can enhance or mar a particular dish. Importantly, the aroma and flavor that arises from spices is due to the volatile oils also known as natural chemicals that occur naturally in them. Volatile oils are present in spices such as cloves, bay leaves, vanilla beans, cinnamon and nutmeg etc.

In order to get the maximum flavor out of your cooking it is important to control the release of volatile oils through proper storage and hence storage of spices is extremely crucial. Spices and herbs when stored in poor conditions can result in a rapid decline in their character.

Submitted on January 16, 2014