HERBS & SPICES:
Herb or Spice
Source
Flavor
Best Used
Cooking Use
ALLSPICE
Berries of the allspice tree Pimenta dioica
Like a mix of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
Freshly ground
Virtually anything, from salads to desserts
ANISE
Seeds of the anise plant Pimpinella anisum
Sweet, similar to licorice
Dried seeds
As flavoring in cookies, candies and pastries; also in poultry dishes
BASIL
Leaves and stems of the basil plant Ocimum basilicum vars
Pungent, somewhat sweet
Fresh
Tomato dishes, with eggplant, for pesto, in Thai and Vietnamese foods, addition to salads and many cooked vegetables
BAY
Leaves of the sweet bay tree Laurus nobilis
Mild
Dried
In soups, stews and tomato sauces, and in shellfish boils. Remove leaf before serving
BLACK PEPPER
Berries of the pepper tree Piper nigrum. Not related to the species of plants that include bell or other types of peppers.
Pungent, somewhat hot
Dried, freshly ground
As condiment, in any dish you wish to make mildly hot
BORAGE
Leaves and flowers of the borage plant Borago officinalis
Mild
Fresh
Flowers as garnish or in salads; leaves in salads or in herbal tea mixtures. Either can be candied.
CAPERS
Unopened flower buds from the caperbush Capparis spinosa
Pungent
Pickled in brine
In sauces, as a garnish, and as a flavoring when pickling other foods
CARAWAY
Seeds of the caraway plant Carum carvi
Sweet, nutty
Whole
Hungarian goulash, cookies and cakes, apple sauce, herbal vinegars
CARDAMOM
Seeds from the cardamom tree Elettaria cardamomum, a member of the ginger family
Sweetly spicy
Whole or ground
Stews, curries. Use sparingly, as it has a strong taste.
CAYENNE PEPPER
Ground dried fruit or seeds of the cayenne pepper plant Capiscum annum
Fiery hot
Dried and ground or fresh and finely chopped
Use sparingly -- it's very hot -- in anything you want to taste hot. Warning: as in all hot peppers, the seeds are extremely hot, so wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
CELERY SEED
Seeds of the celery plant Apium graveolens
Strong, pungent celery flavor
Dried whole seed
As a replacement for celery stalks in cooking; as a flavoring in tomato juice, sauces and soups
CHERVIL
Leaves and stems of the chervil plant Anthriscus cerefolium
Light, similar to parsley
Fresh or frozen
Flavoring in soups, casseroles, salads, and in omelettes.
CHILE POWDER
Dried, ground chili peppers Capiscum annum
Spicy, hot (heat depends on variety of chili pepper used)
Ground
In chili or other spicy dishes
CHIVES
Leaves of the chive plant, a member of the Allium family
Sharp, onion or garlic flavor
Fresh; frozen if fresh not available
Garnish, blended with soft cheeses, added to salads
CILANTRO
Leaves of the coriander plant Coriandrum sativum
Spicy, sweet or hot
Fresh
In Middle Eastern, southeast Asian, Chines, Latin American and Spanish cuisines; common ingredient in Mexican salsas.
CINNAMON
Dried bark of the cinnamon tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Pungently sweet
As dried sticks or ground powder
In sweet dishes or in curries and stews
CLOVES
Dried flower bud of the clove tree Syzygium aromaticum
Sweet or bittersweet
Dried and ground
Add to sweet dishes or as a contrast in stews and curries.
CORIANDER
Seeds of the coriander plant Coriandrum sativum
Spicy, sweet or hot
Ground or whole
In cakes, cookies, breads, as a pickling spice or in curry mixtures
CUMIN
Seed of the cumin plant Cuminum cyminum
Peppery
Whole or ground
Soups, stews, sauces. Use sparingly.
CURRY POWDER
Combination of several ground spices
Hot
Sparingly -- taste the dish in which you're using to gauge heat level
Curries
DILL
Leaves and seeds of the dill plant Anethum graveolens, Anethum sowa
Mild, somewhat sour
Leaves best fresh; seeds used whole
Fish, eggs, potatoes, meats, breads, salads, sauces; dill seed used in pickling and to make dill-flavored vinegar. Seeds of sowa, or Indian dill, used in curry
FENNEL
Leaves and stems of the fennel plant Foeniculum vulgare var.
Like anise, but sweeter and lighter
Raw or cooked
In salads (raw), in soups or stews (cooked)
FENUGREEK
Seeds from the fenugreek plant Trigonella foenumgraecum
Sweet, somewhat like burnt honey
Whole or ground seed
In pastries, as a flavoring for meat dishes and beverages, and to make syrups
GARLIC
Bulbs of the garlic plant, a member of the Allium family
Pungent, onion-like, mildly hot to very hot
Fresh; granulated acceptable substitute
Roasted, or flavoring for pasta sauces, pork roasts, herb butter, stuffing, and marinades
GINGER
Roots of the ginger plant Zingiber officinale
Mix of pepper and sweetness
Dried powder or freshly grated from root
Cakes, breads, cookies, as well as Asian dishes
GREEN PEPPERCORNS
Immature berries of the pepper tree Piper nigrum
Mild, slightly sweet
Preserved in brine or water-packed
In herbal vinegars, in sauces
HORSERADISH
Roots of the horseradish plant Armoracia lapathifolia
Very sharp, similar to mustard
Fresh or jarred
As condiment, or to flavor fish, beef, sausages, and potato salads
LOVAGE
Leaves of the lovage plant Levisticum officinale
Similar to celery, but stronger
Fresh
Use as you would celery, in soups, stews, sauces, meat or fish salads
MACE
Outer covering of the nutmeg seed
Similar to nutmeg, but stronger
Dried or ground
Custards, spice cakes, fruit desserts
MARJORAM
Leaves of the marjoram plant Origanum majorana
Delicate
Fresh or dried
Soups, stews, marinades. Add at end of cooking to conserve flavor
MINT
Leaves of the mint plant Menthe spp.
Various -- there are more than 30 species of mint
Fresh
In salads, with vegetables
MUSTARD, BROWN
Seeds of the mustard plant Brassica juncea; also known as Oriental mustard
Pungent, biting, hotter than yellow mustard
Whole seed
In pickling, as a seasoning, or in preparing Oriental mustard sauces
MUSTARD, YELLOW
Seeds of the mustard plant Brassica hirta
Hot, tangy, less of a bite than brown mustard
Powdered or whole seeds
Ground, is primary ingredient in American-style prepared mustard; the whole seeds may be used boiled with cabbage, or as a garnish for salads.
NUTMEG
Seeds of the nutmeg tree Myristica fragans
Warm, spicy, sweet
Freshly ground
In cakes and cookies, in sweet potatoes
OREGANO
Leaves of the oregano plant Origanum vulgare
Similar to marjoram, but not as sweet
Fresh or dried
In Italian dishes, in chili, with vegetables, soups
PAPRIKA
Fruit from a sweet pepper plant Capiscum annum
Sweet to hot, somewhat bitter
Dried and ground
In Hungarian dishes including goulash, in soups, in potato or egg salad
PARSLEY
Leaves of the parsley plant Petroselinum crispum
Mildly peppery
Fresh; dried a very poor substitute
As a garnish, in sauces, soups and salads
POPPY SEED
Seeds from the poppy flower Papaver somniferum
Nutty
Dried, whole
In muffins and cakes, salad dressings.
ROSEMARY
Leaves of the rosemary plant Rosmarinus officinalis
Very aromatic, faintly lemony and piney
Fresh or dried
In meat (especially lamb) or fish dishes and sauces
SAFFRON
Dried stigmas and upper styles of the saffron crocus Crocus sativus
Pungent, aromatic
Dried
Flavoring and coloring in rice, stews, curries and fish. This is the world's most expensive spice
SAGE
Leaves of the sage plant Salvia officinalis
Musty, slightly bitter
Fresh or dried
Beef, fish dishes, stews, stuffings; common sausage flavoring
SALT
Salt mines, seawater
Salty
Granular
Baking, preserving, curing, as a condiment
SESAME SEED
Seeds of the sesame plant Sesamum indicum
Nutty
Whole
In breads and cookies, in salad dressings
STAR ANISE
Star-shaped fruit of a tree native to China Illicium verum
Very similar to anise
Whole
In herbal tea mixtures, in chicken or casserole dishes, or use as you would anise
SUMMER SAVORY
Leaves of the summer savory plant Satureja hortensis
Cross between thyme and mint, a bit milder than winter savory
Fresh or dried
Pates, soups, meat, fish and bean dishes. Use sparingly due to strong taste.
TARRAGON
Leaves of the French tarragon plant Artemisia dracunculus cv. 'Sativa'
Anise-like
Fresh or frozen. Russian tarragon is not considered of culinary value.
In tartar sauce, as flavoring for cream sauces, in egg dishes and seafood salads
THYME
Leaves of the thyme plant Thymus vulgaris
Minty, lemony
Fresh or dried
In omelettes, stews, bland soups, and stuffing for chicken, or as flavoring for green salads and cooked vegetables
TURMERIC
Root of the turmeric plant Curcuma domestica, a tropical plant related to ginger
Pungent, somewhat bitter
Dried and ground
Curries, East Indian recipes. This is also the primary ingredient in American-style ("ballpark") mustard.
VANILLA
Beans from the vanilla orchid Vanilla planifolia
Sweet, highly aromatic
Remove seeds from whole, dried beans; or, in extract
With coffee, in desserts including ice cream, puddings and cakes
WHITE PEPPER
Peeled and dried green peppercorns from the pepper tree, Piper nigrum
Similar to black peppercorn, but milder
Freshly ground
As a condiment
WINTER SAVORY
Leaves of the winter savory plant Satureja montana
Combination of thyme and mint
Dried or fresh
Pates, soups, meat, fish and bean dishes. Use sparingly due to strong taste.
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