Since the strictest paleo (or in Dr. Cordain’s view, the only true paleo) recipes avoid added salt, using herbs and spices are very important. This guide will give you a background on 35 of the more popular herbs and spices so you can experiment with your paleo recipes.
Note: It is always preferable to buy organic herbs and spices. Do your body a favor and avoid products that are GMO or grown with pesticides.
First let’s talk about herbs. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an herb as “a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent wood tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season” (1). In cooking, the aromatic leaves of these plants are considered to be the herb and are what we use in recipes.
Spices, on the other hand, are defined as “a substance (such as pepper or nutmeg) that is used in cooking to add flavor to food and that comes from a dried plant and is usually a powder or seed” (2). Basically, a spice is derived from any dried part of the plant, (such as the bark, buds, fruit, flower parts, roots, seeds or stems), other than the leaves.
Let’s look at some of the most commonly used herbs and spices:
Allspice is native to Jamaica, Mexico and parts of Central America. The spice is the dried unripe fruit of the plant. It is often used to enhance the flavor of other herbs and spices, especially cinnamon and nutmeg. When tasting allspice, many people tend to notice a combined flavor of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The spice has a pleasantly warm, fragrant aroma. Allspice is very versatile and is frequently used to enhance baking, as well as in dishes containing fruit, vegetables and meat. Allspice is a staple in Caribbean dishes, such as the popular Jamaican jerk seasoning. In particular, allspice compliments apples, beets, cabbage, cardamom, chili, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, eggplant, game meats, garlic, ginger, juniper, mace, mustard, nuts, nutmeg, onions, pears, pepper, poultry, pork, pumpkin, root vegetables, rosemary, seafood, squash, and thyme. It typically comes in whole seed and powder form.
Anise is native to China, Mexico, and Spain. Anise is a member of a family of plants which includes carrots, caraway, cumin, dill, fennel, and cilantro. Anise has a strong licorice flavor and scent. It is often used in baking, soups, and fruit preserves. It pairs well with allspice, apples, bay leaf, beets, beef, cardamom, carrots, chestnuts, citrus, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, cranberry, cumin, fennel, figs, fish, game meats, garlic, nutmeg, nuts, peaches, pepper, pomegranates, pork, poultry, pumpkin, root vegetables, and seafood. It typically comes in whole seed and powder form; however, it is recommended you buy it it whole and grind it before use for best flavor.
The basil plant is originally native to India; however, it is cultivated throughout the world now. There are many different varieties of basil, due to hybridization and growing conditions. The herb has a sweet, slightly minty, slightly peppery taste, with a note of clove and anise. Basil is a staple in Italian cuisine, and is often used in any tomato based sauce. Basil enhances beef, chicken, eggs, fish, and seafood dishes. It compliments artichokes, eggplant, eggs, green vegetables, lemon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and of course tomato-based recipes. It blends well with capers, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, oregano, mint, onion, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and savory. Since basil is the leaf part of the plant, the dried leaf is how it is sold.
The leaf comes from the bay laurel shrub and is a native plant from the Mediterranean. It is also grown in Europe and the Americas; however, the largest commercial production of bay leaf today is in Turkey. It has a sweet, balsamic aroma with a hint of camphor and nutmeg. The Bay leaf is frequently combined with parsley and thyme, producing a subtle yet flavorful blend known as Bouquet Garni. This blend enhances the taste of marinades, sauces, soups, and stews. The bay leaf is an important ingredient in French, Italian, Greek, and Turkish cuisine. The herb blends well with allspice, artichokes, beef, chestnuts, chicken, citrus fruits, fish, game meats, garlic, juniper, lamb, marjoram, mushrooms, nuts, oregano, parsley, poultry, sage, savory, seafood, thyme, and tomatoes. Bay leaves are generally sold whole, and used either whole, crushed, or ground in recipes.
The greatest producer of these warming and aromatic seeds is Holland. However, it is also cultivated in Canada, Germany, Morocco, Russia, and Scandinavia. Caraway seeds have a pungent aroma, a flavor that is warm and bittersweet, and they provide a distinctive flavor to cabbage, coleslaw and soups. As a bitter alternative to cumin, caraway seeds are an important ingredient in Dutch, German, Indian, Russian, and Scandinavian cuisine. This spice pairs well with apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, coriander, dill, duck, fennel, garlic, goose, mushrooms, nuts, onions, parsley, pork, poultry, root vegetables, seafood, tomatoes, and thyme. It is typically sold in whole seed or ground form.
Cardamom is the fruit of a tropical plant related to the ginger family, and is grown on plantations in Guatemala or India. The aroma is strong, but mellow and fruity. The spice has a lemony, flowery flavor with a note of camphor or eucalyptus in it. Since growing cardamom is extremely labor intensive, it is one of the most expensive spices, after saffron and vanilla. Each pod ripens slowly, and must be picked when it is three-quarters ripe. The color of the seed is dictated by the method of drying. This aromatic spice is often used in sweet or savory recipes. Cardamom pairs well with apples, bananas, caraway, chili, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, coconut, coriander, cumin, curry, dates, ginger, nuts, paprika, pears, pepper, pumpkin, saffron, squash, and turmeric. It is typically sold in hulled, pod and powder form. Pods will stay fresher than the hulled and powder varieties.
Cayenne is the most common ground chili, made from small, ripe chili peppers. Chili is the Aztec name for Capsicum annuum. It has been used as food by Native Americans for over 9,000 years. These tasty, hot peppers have been used in many cuisines globally, and are essential to chili powder, curry powders, and jerk seasoning, among others. Cayenne blends well with most spices, bay leaf, chicken, coriander, coconut milk, eggplant, fish, lemon, lime, onions, other peppers, pork, seafood, and tomatoes. It is always sold in powder form.
Celery seed is cultivated in France and India. This spice is grayish green to brown with a slightly bitter, spicy taste with a hint of nutmeg, citrus, and parsley, and an aroma similar to parsley. A little celery seed will bring out flavors in food; however, too much can quickly overpower a dish. The spice is frequently used in casseroles, soups, and stews. Celery seeds blend well with cabbage, chicken, cilantro, cloves, cucumber, cumin, fish, garlic, ginger, mustard, onion, parsley, pepper, poultry, rosemary, sage, tomatoes, turmeric, and thyme. Celery seed is typically sold in whole seed and powder form.
The chive is a member of the lily plant family (Liliaceae), is native to Asia and Europe; and has been used as a culinary ingredient for thousands of years. The chive has a light, onion aroma, and a spicy, onion flavor. A traditional ingredient in French cuisine, it is often used as a garnish in soups, scrambled eggs and stews. The chive pairs well with avocados, asparagus, basil, cilantro, dill, eggs, fennel, fish, mushrooms, paprika, parsley, root vegetables, seafood, tarragon, and zucchini. Chives are frequently bought and used fresh, however, the dried rings can also be purchased for longer storage.
This herb is actually the leaf of the coriander plant, and is known outside of North America as the coriander leaf. The leaves and stems have a refreshing aroma to them, with a taste similar to a mixture of citrus and parsley – though some people think it tastes like soap. People either love it or hate it. Cilantro is a prolific herb grown throughout much of the United States, with the majority of the harvest being cultivated in California. It is a staple in many cuisines, including European, Indian, Mediterranean, and Mexican. Cilantro blends well with avocados, beef, chilies, coconut (including milk), coriander, cucumber, cumin, curry, dates, fennel, figs, garlic, lemon, lime, mint, onion, oregano, pepper (both capsicum and true), poultry, root vegetables, seafood, and tomatoes. Combining cilantro with either garlic or onion will increase its ability to keep food fresh. Many people buy it both fresh in in the dried variety for longer storage.
Cinnamomum verum is a small evergreen belonging to the Laurel tree family and is native to tropical southern India and Sri Lanka. Cinnamon has a uniquely warm, agreeably sweet, woody, uplifting aroma to it. It has been utilized in many baked goods, beverages, and even cordials. Cinnamon (often referred to as ‘true cinnamon’) has a taste that is warm with a hint of clove, citrus, and clove; and differs from the closely related cassia cinnamon with it’s more subtle, delicate, and sweet flavor. According to one proprietor of organic herbs notes, “Recent studies validate many of the traditional uses of this medicinal spice, indicating its health enhancing properties” (3). Cinnamon pairs well with almonds, apples, apricots, bananas, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, eggplant, ginger, lamb, mace, nutmeg, pears, poultry, tamarind, and turmeric. It is typically sold in chips, sticks, and powder form.
Cloves are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree in the Myrtle family. The buds are pink or red and turn dark brown when dried. The bud has a fruity, yet pungent, bittersweet taste. The clove is steeped in history and folklore, with the culinary spice being used for thousands of years. Recently, clove oil has been utilized in dentistry for its analgesic effects (4). “The common name ‘clove’ [is] a derivative of the Latin ‘clavus’ meaning ‘nail,’ and refers to the shape of the clove” (4). Cloves are native to the Spice Islands in Indonesia; however, they “are widely cultivated in Tanzania, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and South America” (4). Cloves blend well with allspice, apples, bay leaf, beets, cardamom, carrots, chili spice, cinnamon, citrus, coriander, curry, fennel, game meats, ginger, mace, nuts, nutmeg, onions, peaches, pineapple, pork, pumpkin, red cabbage, root vegetables, squashes, and vanilla. The spice is generally sold as whole buds; however, you can also buy it in powder form.
Coriander spice is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but the main producers are Argentina, Canada, India, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Russia, and the Ukraine. The leaves of this plant are what we refer to as the herb ‘cilantro.’ Coriander has a strong lemony, musty scent, and taste sweet, mellow, and warm with a hint of orange peel. It is a primary ingredient in Indian curry powder and is often added to various meats, sauces, and soups. This spice pairs well with allspice, apples, bananas, chicken, cilantro, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, cumin, curry, game meats, fennel, fish, garlic, ginger, mace, mint, mushrooms, nutmeg, onion, parsley, plum, pork, poultry, and seafood. It is sold both in whole and powder form; however, if buying whole, you should crush it prior to use.
Cumin, a pale, green, oval seed from the parsley family, is native to the Mediterranean region. It is cultivated in Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Morocco, and Turkey. Cumin has been a culinary staple for thousands of years, and was even mentioned in the Bible (5). It has a distinctive bitter, spicy taste with a tinge of heat left on the tongue. “Cumin is a spice that is well-known in countries such as Mexico and India, and in areas such as the Middle East, that has been used for generations in traditional curry mixes, cuisines, and sauces” (5). The spice combines well with allspice, anise seed, avocados, bay leaf, beef, cabbage, cardamom, chili spice, cilantro, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, coconut, coriander, cucumber, curry, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, lamb, mace, mustard seed, onion, oregano, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, poultry, seafood, thyme, tomatoes, and turmeric. It is typically sold in whole seed (fruit) and powder form.
Both the leaves and seeds are used in cooking, and both come from the same annual plant, Apiaceae. “The term “dill weed” refers to the green leaves (and sometimes stems) of the plant. “Dill seed” actually isn’t seed but the flat, oval, dark brown whole fruits of the herb” (6). Dill is native to Russia; however, it can be found in many countries; and both India and the United States cultivate it for commercial use. It is a staple in German, Russian, and Scandinavian cuisine. The seed (or fruit) comes from the flower head and it imparts a scent a little like caraway. The seed tastes a bit like anise, with a touch of sharpness and warmth. Dill weed has a clean, fragrant aroma of anise and lemon. The taste is similar to a mild mixture or anise and parsley. Dill seed is a common pickling spice. Dill blends well with anise, basil, beets, cabbage, capers, caraway, carrot, celery root, chili spice, chives, coriander, cucumber, cumin, eggs, fennel, fish, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mint, mustard, oregano, onion, paprika, parsley, pumpkin, seafood, spinach, tarragon, tomatoes, turmeric, veal, vinegar, and zucchini. Add it at the end of cooking because it looses flavor if over-heated. Dill is sold in both seed (fruit) and leaf form.
“Fennel’s name comes from the Latin foeniculum, meaning “little hay””(7), and is a member of the parsley family. The seeds are the fruit of the plant and are oval shaped and green. The “bright green color indicates quality” (7). When dried, the fruit has a yellowish-green tint. Fennel has a warm anise aroma to it with a similar taste; however, it is less pungent than dill. Fennel is frequently used in fish and blackened seasonings, as well as curry mixes. The spice combines well with anise, artichokes, basil, beets, cabbage, chervil, cilantro, cinnamon, cucumber, dill, duck, eggplant, fenugreek, figs, fish, garlic, leeks, lemon balm, mint, onion, oregano, parsley, pork, seafood, thyme, tomato, and veal. Fennel is one of the five spices in 5 Spice powder, and is sometimes used in garam masala. It is typically sold in both whole seed (fruit) and powder form.
“Fenugreek is an annual herb with light yellow flowers and three lobed, clover-like leaves, typical of the pea or Fabaceae family” (8). The entire plant has a warm, anise-licorice aroma, and the seeds have a maple-like flavor. It is native to China, India, the Mediterranean, and the Ukraine; however, the herb is cultivated for commercial use in China, India, Morocco, South America, and Turkey. (8). While the United States traditionally uses the spice (the seed) for culinary purposes, in other parts of the world, such as India, the entire plant is considered to be edible (8). The spice goes well with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fish curries, garlic, green vegetables, limes, pepper, root vegetables, tomatoes, and turmeric. Fenugreek is typically sold in both whole and powder form.
Garlic is one of the most popular culinary seasonings available. Garlic is a perennial and a member of the Lilly family. “The common name, garlic, is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and is derived from ‘gar’ (spear) and ‘lac’ (plant), and was related to its leaf shape” (9). It has been cultivated for thousands of years, and is easy to find around the world. Garlic is grown for commercial use in China, Egypt, India, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. The bulb has an intense odor with a hot, pungent taste to it. Garlic is a staple in nearly every cuisine; and is an essential ingredient in Chinese, Italian, and Mexican cooking. Garlic compliments nearly every food group, with the exception of sweets, and it is rarely used in beverages. It is best used in savory dishes. Garlic will blend well with most herbs and spices. It is typically purchased fresh, or in dried granules, minced, or powder form.
“Ginger is the most widely used and available herbal remedy on the planet, with billions of people using it every day as both food and medicine… Ginger is used either fresh or dried in nearly two thirds of all traditional Chinese and Japanese herbal formulas. Fresh ginger is used to relieve dryness and heat, while dried ginger is used to relieve dampness and chill.” (10). Raw ginger has a strong aroma, however, once dried and powdered it has a warm, peppery scent with a hint of lemon to it. The taste is rather fiery and pungent. Ginger is an essential ingredient in curry, masala, and five spice powder blends. It is also used with pickling spices. Ginger pairs well with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, dried fruit, nutmeg, nuts, lemon, paprika, pepper, and saffron. It is typically purchased fresh, or in dried and powdered forms.
Mace comes from the Myristica fragrans, or nutmeg tree. It is an evergreen native to a group of islands, commonly known as the Spice Islands in the eastern part of Indonesia. The nutmeg tree has a fleshy fruit about the size of a lime (11). Inside the fruit is a kernel (from which nutmeg is derived) and a membrane which covers the the nutshell known as mace (11). Mace is bright red when harvested but mellows to a rich golden tone when dried (11). The largest producer of mace is Indonesia, followed by Grenada. Mace has the warm, rich aroma of nutmeg, with a hint of pepper and clove. “Buy mace from a reputable source that guarantees that the powder is not made from previously BWP (broken-wormy-punky) nuts. It’s also better not to use an irradiated product. Irradiating mace or nutmeg breaks down the fatty acids that contain the essential oils that give nutmeg its aroma and flavor. Avoid irradiated mace for best quality” (12). The taste is warm and has a potent bitterness to it. The spice combines well with allspice, asparagus, cabbage, cardamom, carrots, chicken, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cumin, eggs, fish, ginger, lamb, nutmeg, onion, paprika, peaches, pepper, pumpkin, seafood, spinach, thyme, vanilla, and veal. Mace is typically sold whole (frequently used for pickling) or in powder form.
Marjoram is a perennial herb from the mint family. It is native to the Mediterranean and parts of western Asia. “Marjoram is a Greek word meaning “Joy of the Mountain.” According to Greek myth, Aphrodite said that the smell of marjoram was the smell of impending good luck” (13). Marjoram has a taste that is warm, slightly bitter with a hint of camphor to it. It is often used in Italian cooking and frequently combined with basil and oregano. It pairs well with artichokes, basil, bay leaf, beef, black pepper, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chili, cinnamon, cumin, duck, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fish, game meat, garlic, juniper berries, lamb, mushrooms, onions, oregano, paprika, parsley, pork, poultry, rosemary, sage, spinach, squash, sweet peppers, thyme, tomatoes, and veal. The herb is typically sold as dried, minced leaves.
“Most people would be surprised to learn that yellow mustard isn’t yellow. The white herb powder is made yellow in the prepared condiment by the addition of turmeric… The word mustard comes from the Latin “mustum ardems” meaning “burning must,” or a spicy combination of mustard (burning) and freshly squeezed grape juice (must)” (14). Mustard is a plant with yellow flowers and comes from the same family as watercress, horseradish, and arugula (14). The spice is native to Asia; however, Canada, China, India, and the United States are the largest producers of commercial crops. Both the seed and ground forms of mustard have virtually no aroma, but when mixed with water, it releases a hot scent. The taste is bitter and hot. Mustard is frequently used in Indian cuisine and a host of condiments. It is often used in pickling and the boiling of vegetables. Mustard combines well with bay leaf, beef, cabbage, capers, chicken, chili, coriander, curries, dill, fennel, fenugreek, fish, game meats, garlic, onion, parsley, pepper, poultry, root vegetables, seafood, tarragon, turmeric, and vinegar. It is typically sold in whole seed and powdered (flour) form.
Nutmeg comes from the Myristica fragrans, or nutmeg tree. It is an evergreen native to a group of islands, commonly known as the Spice Islands in the eastern part of Indonesia. The nutmeg tree is unique in that produces two different spices, mace and nutmeg. It grows a fleshy fruit about the size of a lime (11). While mace is derived from the leathery between the kernel (aka stone) and the pulp of the fruit, nutmeg is made from the kernel itself. The largest producer of mace is Indonesia, followed by Grenada. “Buy mace from a reputable source that guarantees that the powder is not made from previously BWP (broken-wormy-punky) nuts. It’s also better not to use an irradiated product. Irradiating mace or nutmeg breaks down the fatty acids that contain the essential oils that give nutmeg its aroma and flavor. Avoid irradiated mace for best quality” (12). Nutmeg has a similar warm aroma to that of mace, but it smells sweeter and more camphoric than its relative. Nutmeg has a warm taste with a hint of clove to it. It combines well with cabbage, cardamom, carrots, chicken, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, eggs, fish, garlic, ginger, lamb, mace, onion, pepper, pumpkin, spinach, thyme, and veal. It is typically sold in whole “nut” and powdered form.
Onions are a staple in virtually every kitchen. Many experts believe onions are native to central Asia; while other believe they were first cultivated in Iran and west Pakistan (15). Regardless of origin, it is generally agreed that onion has been in use by man for at least 5,000 years (15). Allium cepa, or the bulb onion is part of the lily family. A number of varieties exist and the bulb may be white, yellow, or red. “Approximately 87 percent of the [commercial] crop is devoted to yellow onion production, with about eight percent red onions, and five percent white onions” (16). Onion is used in virtually every cuisine around the world; and they are the only vegetable/spice commonly used in breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. With their intensely pungent aroma and sharp bite, onion compliment nearly everything with the exception of sweet spices and fruit. It is rarely used in dessert recipes. Onions are typically sold fresh, in whole and chopped form, as well as dried in granules, minced, and powered forms.
Oregano is a perennial herb that comes from the Lamiaceae or mint family. “The name is derived from the Greek, meaning “mountain of joy”” (17). It tastes warm and slightly bitter with a hint of camphor to it. Good quality plants are grown in warm, dry climates, as it’s aromatic and flavor qualities will diminish in colder climates. Much of the oregano production comes from France, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States. Oregano is an important culinary herb, especially in Latin American, Mediterranean, and Phillipine cuisines, and is often more flavorful dried than it is fresh. It is often used in seasoning blends, meat-based and tomato-based sauces, soups, and stews. Oregano pairs well with artichokes, basil, bay leaf, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chili, cumin, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish, garlic, lamb, marjoram, mushrooms, onions, paprika, parsley, pork, poultry, rosemary, sage, seafood, spinach, squash, sumac, sweet peppers, thyme, tomatoes, veal, and venison. It is typically sold in chopped leaf and powered form.
A popular culinary herb, paprika comes from a mild red pepper in the capsicum annum family. It is native to South America; however, it is also commercially grown in California, Hungary, and Spain as well. The aroma is restrained and delicate. “Its spiciness varies depending on the proportion of seed, rind and fruit in the ground powder and other varieties have been developed including smoked or roasted Paprika which adds a nicely rounded and mildly smoked flavor to culinary creations” (18). Paprika is found in many world cuisines, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, and Spain. The spice is often used in egg dishes, (such as deviled eggs), in tomato-based recipes, and in vegetable casseroles. It blends well with allspice, beef, caraway, cardamom, chicken, duck, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, pepper, pork, rosemary, saffron, thyme, turmeric, veal, and vegetables. It is typically sold in dried, powdered (ground) form in both regular and smoked varieties.
Parsley is part of the Apiaceae family and is thought to be native to the Mediterranean region, particularly Sardinia (19). It is grown in many parts of the world; however, California is a larger commercial producer of this herb. Parsley has a mild spicy aroma with a hint of lemon and anise to it. It’s taste is tangy with a light peppery note. It is widely utilized in American, European, and Middle Eastern cuisine, and is very popular in German and Scandinavian dishes. The parsley leaf is frequently used as a garnish in dishes around the world, particularly in American, European, and western Asian recipes. “While all of us know parsley as a condiment and garnish, most of us never consume its most flavorful part of the root” (19). In fact, parsley root is very common in European cuisines, and frequently found in soups, stews and casseroles. Parsley pairs well with artichokes, asparagus, basil, bay leaf, beef, capers, chervil, chili, chives, dill, game meat, garlic, lemon, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, onion, oregano, pepper, poultry, rosemary, seafood, tarragon, thyme, and tomatoes. It is typically sold fresh or as dried, chopped leaves.
As one of the most commonly used spices, black pepper is also the most traded cultivated spice in the world (20). It is a member of the Piperaceace family and is native to India, which commercially produces the majority of the world’s pepper. Black (or true) pepper should not be confused with bell, cayenne, chili, or red peppers, which are from the Capsicum family. Black peppercorns have a pungent fragrance and a woody note. The flavor is hot with a bite to it, which adds warmth and zest to recipes (20). The peppercorns “…are actually immature fruits that are collected as soon as they turn red and dried in the sun.14 The peppercorns turn black after three days of drying, and when ground, produce black pepper powder.11 When the fruits are left to ripen and the red outer covering is removed, then white pepper is obtained” (20). Black pepper is frequently combined with other herb and spice blends, and is a common table condiment. It compliments all meats and vegetables and pairs well with basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, eggs, garlic, ginger, lemon, lime, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric. It is typically sold in whole, cracked, and ground (powdered) form.
Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, needle-like leaves and blue, pink, purple, or white flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. The herb indigenous to the Mediterranean region; however, it is also cultivated commercially in France, Portugal, Spain and the United States. The leaves are strongly aromatic and have an astringent taste with a note of pine and camphor to them. Rosemary adds a wonderful flavor to many cuisines around the world, but it is most notably a staple in Italian dishes. Rosemary blends well with apples, apricots, asparagus, bay leaf, basil, beef, cabbage, chives, citrus, cranberry, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fish, game meat, garlic, lamb, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, onion, oregano, parsley, parsnips, pork, poultry, sage, seafood, thyme, tomatoes, veal, and squash. It is typically sold fresh, or in dried leaf and ground (powdered) form.
Sage, (also known as garden sage and common sage) is a perennial, evergreen shrub from the Lamiaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has since been naturalized in many places around the world. The United States is a large commercial producer of this herb. It is used in virtually every European cuisine to flavor meat, soups and vegetables (21). It is considered to be an essential herb in Britain. “Its unmistakably peppery flavor makes it popular for use in poultry and pork stuffing” (21). The dried leaves are much more potent than fresh ones. Sage goes well with apples, bay leaf, beef, capers, caraway, celery, citrus, game meat, garlic, ginger, marjoram, onions, paprika, parsley, poultry, rosemary, savory, seafood, thyme, and tomatoes. It is typically sold in fresh, ground, and dried leaf form.
There are two types of savory – winter and summer. Both are from the Lamiaceae family, though summer savory is an annual plant and winter savory is a perennial. The herb is primarily grown in the Mediterranean region, parts of Europe, and the United States. Both types have a minty-peppery flavor. Summer savory has a smoother, lighter flavor (22) while winter savory “…has a stronger, sharper flavor than it summer cousin, but it still blends well with thyme, sage and rosemary as well as most mints” (23). Summer savory is frequently used with poultry and vegetables, and can be found in sauces, soups and stews. Winter savory is often used with game and red meats. The herb goes well with basil, bay leaf, beets, cabbage, cumin, eggs, fish, game meat, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sweet peppers, thyme, and tomatoes. It can be purchased fresh, though both the summer and winter herb typically sold in dried leaf form.
“Tarragon is an aromatic Eurasian perennial cultivated for its sweet, anise-like flavor. Its Latin name, dracunculus, means “little dragon” and is derived from the medieval belief that the shape of a plant reflected its uses” (24). Tarragon is a perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. It is widespread across much of Eurasia and the United States, however, the primary commercial producer is France. It is a staple in French cuisine. “Tarragon imparts its flavor readily, and is one of the herbs often used in making flavored vinegars and oils” (24). The herb is also used in egg dishes, prepared mustard, sauces, soups, stews, and tomato-based recipes. Long cooking will diminish the aroma, but the flavor will not be lost. Tarragon goes well with artichokes, asparagus, basil, bay leaf, capers, carrots, chives, citrus, dill, eggs, fish, garlic, green vegetables, mushrooms, onion, oregano, parsley, poultry, seafood, thyme, tomatoes, and veal. The herb is typically sold fresh and in dried leaf form.
Thyme is an aromatic herb from the Lamiaceae (mint) family and while common throughout the United States, it is native to the southern Mediterranean region (25). It grows in most European countries, including Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland; however, it is the largest commercial growers are in Bulgaria, France, Italy, and Spain (26). “Experts in language tell us that thyme’s name was derived form the Greek word thumus, or courage. In Medieval times, knights wore sprigs of thyme on their armor as a sign of courage. The scent of thyme was thought to give them strength in the midst of battle” (26). The herb is minty, peppery and warm. It is frequently used in seasoning blends for fish, lamb, poultry, sauces, soups, and veal. Fresh thyme is more flavorful than its dried counterpart, though the storage life for the fresh herb is rarely more than a week. Thyme pairs well with allspice, artichokes, bananas, basil, bay leaf, cabbage, carrots, chili, clove, eggplant, garlic, lamb, leeks, marjoram, mushrooms, nutmeg, onion, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, savory, and tomatoes. It is typically sold fresh and in dried leaf form.
Turmeric is a perennial plant from the Zingiberaceae, or ginger family. It is native to India and grown throughout the tropical regions around the world (27). “At the base of the stem, there is a knobby rhizome somewhat resembling ginger (27). These rhizomes are boiled, dried in ovens, and then often ground into a rich yellowish-orange powder. The aroma is a bit like mustard and the taste is slightly hot, peppery and pungent with a hint of ginger to it. The spice is a staple in Indian and Pakistasni cuisines. It is a necessary ingredient of curry powder, and is frequently used in Asian and Indian dishes. Less costly than saffron, turmeric is also used to impart color and flavor to mustard condiments. It goes well with allspice, anise, beef, carrots, chili, chives, cilantro, citrus, cloves, coconut, coriander, cumin, curry, dates, eggplant, eggs, fennel, figs, fish, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, meat, mustard seed, nutmeg, onion, pepper, poultry, root vegetables, seafood, spinach, and veal. It can be bought fresh; however, it is typically found in dried root and ground (powdered) form.
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2. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spice
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8. Mountain Rose Herbs: Fenugreek Seed. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/fenugreek-seed/profile
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11. Chomchalow, N. Spice Production in Asia – An Overiew. 1996. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.journal.au.edu/au_techno/2001/oct2001/article6.pdf
12. Mountain Rose Herbs: Mace Whole. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2015, from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/mace-whole/profile
13. Mountain Rose Herbs: Marjoram. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2015, from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/marjoram/profile
14. Mountain Rose Herbs: Mustard Seed, Yellow. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2015, from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/yellow-mustard-seed/profile
15. History of Onions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2015, from http://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/history-of-onions
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18. Mountain Rose Herbs: Paprika Powder. (n.d). Retrieved June 12, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/paprika-powder/profile
19. Mountain Rose Herbs: Parsley Leaf. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/parsley-leaf/profile
20. Mountain Rose Herbs: Peppercorn, Black. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/peppercorn-black/profile
21. Mountain Rose Herbs: Sage Leaf. (n.d.) Retrieved June 13, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/sage/profile
22. Mountain Rose Herbs: Savory, Summer. (n.d.) Retrieved June 13, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/savory-summer/profile
23. Mountain Rose Herbs: Savory, Winter. (n.d.) Retrieved June 14, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/savory-winter/profile
24. Mountain Rose Herbs: Tarragon. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/tarragon/profile
25. Mountain Rose Herbs: Thyme Leaf. (n.d.) Retrieved June 14, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/thyme/profile
26. Essential Oil Crops: Production Guidelines for Thyme. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2015, from http://www.genesisseeds.com/organicseed/herbs/pdf/EssOilsThyme.pdf
27. Mountain Rose Herbs: Turmeric Root. (n.d.) Retrieved June 14, 2015 from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/turmeric-root/profile