Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is it Herb, Spice or Vegetable?

Hi everyone and Welcome to our July Issue.

This months topic is Herb, Spice or Vegetable and what gives them
their classification and distinction?

Generally a herb is the leaf part of the plant and is often used in a fresh state; such as: parsley, chives, sage, oregano, basil, coriander, thyme or rosemary to mention a few.
All of these can be purchased in a dried or dehydrated state but they are still considered an herb because they are the leafy part of the plant.

The other parts of the plant such as: Roots (ginger, turmeric or horseradish) Bark (cassia and cinnamon) Berries (peppercorns and allspice) Seeds ( cumin, fennel, sesame, dill just to name a few.) Buds (cloves and rose). Oh and lets not forget the most expensive spice known to man which is the stigma of a flower better known as (saffron). All of these mentioned above and many others that you find on your shelves todary are dried and then commonly known as a spice. This process does perserve the spice and gives it a much longer shelf life. Of coarse it should be stored in an air tight container and out of direct sunlight. If the spice has been sitting for a long time you will not detect it's aroma, because the aroma will be the first to go and also it's flavor will become very week.
Thats why we at Basil and Things always monitor our spice's shelve time frame.

Now some vegetables are kind of unique because they can play on either side of the fence. We're talking about vegetables such as: onions, garlic, fennel, peppers, beets, celery,
leeks (a cousin to the onion) spinach and tomatoes to mention the most common..
When these vegetables are served fresh they are considered as an herb in culinary cooking. Of coarse once they are processed ground, dried, roasted or dehydrated then they take on a whole new life and are known as a spice.

Now all of these that we have talked about are cultivated everywhere in the world. Generally in warmer climates, but the location of growth still plays no real part in their distinct classification. It boils down to how they are served, processed or prepared.

Herbs and spices are also classified from mild to hot.
Now I'm not going to get into all the different one's but just to give you an
idea on some of the more commonly used ones.
MILD: Coriander, fennel, poppy and sesame seeds, parsley, turmeric, paprika and chervil

MEDIUM or SWEET : Allspice, cinnamon, chives, nutmeg, rose,vanilla and aniseed.

STRONG or TANGY: Basil, dill, lemongrass, mint, marjoram, tarragon,

PUNGENT: Bay leaf, caraway, celery seed, cloves, cumin, garlic,ginger, and oregano.

HOT: Chili's ( cayenne or jalapeno pepper) horseradish, mustard, peppercorns.

Even though herbs and spices break down into these different categories each and everyone of them are still remarkable when used properly . Either direct or as a blend.

Basil and Things carries over 95 different herbs, spices and special blends some that can't be found in local stores. Freshness is key when using spices and we take great pride to ensure that your spice will always be fresh.

It is our hope that you are able to find the exact herb or spice needed for your cooking pleasure.
If you have any questions about any of our products please don't hesitate to drop us a line.
We are always glad and ready to hear from you.

Well until next month Take care, Happy Cooking and be safe.

Rick and Kathy with Basil and Things.

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