Spices and Herbs
Spices and herbs were initially grown in a few tropical countries such as the West Indies and Indonesia. However, as demand grew, they made their way to Europe and the Middle East. Today, spices can be grown in any tropical country because they are easily available. There is a clear difference between spices and herbs.
Spices are the fried aromatic parts of plants, such as buds, bark, fruit, pods, roots, berries, seeds, or even flower stigmas. Spices can be used either whole or they can be ground into powder. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are used both whole and in powder form. Herbs are leafy, green plant parts. Herbs such as basil or oregano may be used fresh and are usually chopped fine. Spices and herbs have been used for many purposes. In cooking, they stimulate the gastric juices and enhance the flavour of food. Before the invention of refrigerators, they were used to preserve food.
Spices and herbs are also used to add fragrance to beauty products such as perfumes, body creams and lotions. Here are a few basic rules to remember when using herbs and spices. To bring out the full flavour, cook spices before adding any liquid to them. Always crush dried herbs before using to bring out their flavour. Store fresh herbs in water or freeze them. Keep dried herbs and ground spices in airtight containers out of direct sunlight.