Spices 101: History and Lore of Spices
Spices have a strong history in all areas of the globe.
• Other than fire, spices are the most influential thing to happen to food and how it’s prepared.
• Spices were most likely discovered accidentally for their flavor. They were originally used for medicinal and preservative purposes.
• Saffron is the most valuable spice on earth. Its strands must be hand-picked from flowers that only contain three strands per bud.
Many spices are related.
• Holiday spices are typically known to be nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, all spice and cloves.
• Mace and nutmeg come from the same plant and are very similar. Mace is made from the shell that surrounds the nutmeg.
• Coriander is the ground form of cilantro seeds.
• Many spices, such as fennel and anise provide a black licorice taste.
Knowing how to use and store spices can take your food from good to great.
• The top three enemies of spices are heat, light and humidity. Try to store spices in a cool, dark and dry place.
• According to Savory Spice, whole spices last for up to three years and ground spices last for up to one year.
• If possible, always use whole spices and grind them down with a coffee grinder. A cheese grater works for cinnamon and nutmeg.
• Think of spices as a palette. When you add spices to your food, try different combinations from the palette to create tastes from different regions.
• Some spices only release their flavor when its pores are opened in water, oil or alcohol. Research which option is best for the spice you are using.