I love to cook, and baking is one of my favorite things to do for my family. I have so many spices but I don’t really know much about them. Such as what their purpose is, where they came from, and what they taste like before adding them to a recipe.
My curiosity prompted me to do some research and here is what I found out about the commonly used spices. Hopefully it will provide you with information that you didn’t have before, but were curious about.
Allspice is a dried, unripe berry which is also known as Jamaican Pepper. It was named Allspice because it has the scent of pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Allspice is grown in Mexico, Honduras, and Jamaica. This spice is commonly used in Jamaican dishes but also in Pumpkin Crème Brulee.
There are over sixty different types of Basil and they have the flavors of clove, jasmine, lemon, thyme, and cinnamon. It is grown in France, The United States, and The Mediterranean. Common uses of Basil are in soup, casserole, and pasta sauces.
Cayenne Pepper comes from Central and South America. It’s made of a chili pepper and is very spicy. Because of its flavor, it’s commonly used in salsas, dips, and Mexican foods. However Asian cultures use it as well.
Long, hollow, and bright green leaves describe the Chive. It is grown in California and has a mild onion flavor. They are generally used to garnish dishes.
There are two types of cinnamon; ground cinnamon and ground cassia. Ground cinnamon is tan with a sweet flavor, while cassia is reddish brown and is bitter. Plus it feels coarse to the touch. They are grown in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and Central America. Cinnamon is used in many desserts, beverages, and marinades.
Cloves are unopened buds of flowers that come from Syzygium, which is an evergreen tree. They come from Madagascar, Brazil, Ceylon, and Panang, and are used in desserts, soups, and on Christmas Hams.
Paprika is a spice that also comes from a red pepper which is from the Capsicum family. They are mildly spicy, and come from Spain, California, Hungary, and South America. Paprika is commonly used as a garnish and for basting fish or chicken dishes.
I’ve used Sage many times and was surprised to find out that it comes from Dalmatia and Albania, along with the United States. It is from an evergreen shrub and used mostly in veggies, pork, and seafood.
Thyme is a leaf of a shrub which is grown in Southern Europe; It has a minty flavor and dry aroma. It seems like almost every recipe calls for Thyme, so I have it stocked on my spice rack. It is used to season tomato, cheese, and egg dishes.
Vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahiti, and Mexico. They have a wonderful smell like sweet perfume but some people describe its taste as bitter and smoky. I use it to flavor desserts like custard, pudding, ice cream, and cakes.
When I initially started this article it was my intention to list as many spices as possible. However, I chose these 10 because they are used the most in my house.
Keeping a well stocked spice rack is important especially when it comes to making a dish that is from a different country. Trying to substitute a needed spice can throw the whole meal into the trash, so keep your spice rack up to date, fully stocked, and be creative when making your next meal..