Adding a small amount of herbs or spices has the potential to dramatically alter the dish you are cooking, adding a distinctive flavor that is pleasing both to your nose and your tongue.
But what exactly are herbs and spices, and how do they differ from one another? This article looks at this question in detail and highlights the best herbs and spices for changing seasons.
1) What are the differences between herbs and spices?
The main difference between a herb and a spice is centered on what part of plants they are harvested from. Herbs are mainly found as leaves on plants. Examples are cilantro, tarragon, chives, or other aromatic plants.
However, spices are obtained from non-leafy parts of plants such as roots, seeds, bulbs, stems, or the bark. Sometimes, the same plant has the potential to produce both herbs and spices.
For example, the cilantro plant (also known as coriander) gives rise to leaves and seeds, both of which are used in cooking. Coriander offers many health benefits to people who consume it.
2) The best herbs and spices to consider in your cooking
If you want to consider using more herbs and spices in your cooking and aren't sure where to start, read on to find out.
Cinnamon is harvested from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees. It's been used by humans for centuries as a digestive aid. In fact, a few clinical studies have shown it has anti-inflammatory properties. The main countries where it abounds are China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
Cinnamon can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, ranging from cinnamon rolls, pie spices, pumpkin spice mix, roasted veg hash, Moroccan tagines, and rice pilafs. You can purchase bulk organic cinnamon powder and use it to add a distinctive flavor to your dishes.
Ginger is a pungent, spicy, and warming root that is grown in tropical climates. Helpful as a cure for an upset stomach and nausea, ginger has also featured in a study on how it can relieve osteoarthritis pain. Ginger is traditionally used for adding flavor to Asian dishes. It can be sliced and sprinkled in curries, stir-fries, or stews to add warmth to the dishes. Powdered ginger is an active ingredient in ginger tea, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread.
Cardamom is the third-most-costly spice that you can use in your cooking, right after vanilla and saffron. It originated in Southeast Asia but is now commercially grown in Guatemala as well. Cardamom's flavor is smokey, sweet, and menthol-like.
Ground cardamom is popular in the Middle East to make cardamom-flavored coffee. It is used in baking, savory dishes, Indian rice pudding, and chai tea. The addition of Cardamom gives a distinctive flavor to chicken dishes, spiced rice recipes, and tikka masala.
Oregano has Mediterranean origins, but it can also grow in chilly weather without complaint. You can use Oregano in Italian dishes and also in fish and meat dishes.
Oregano adds a unique flavor to run-of-the-mill recipes like potato salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more. It is one of the top herbs that you can grow at home.
A herb that has origins in Mediterranean climes, Rosemary can also withstand chilly winters if you protect it from the elements. Rosemary is a pungent herb that is an excellent fit for grilled smoky flavors and is naturally suited for eggplant or chicken stews.
You can also add it to lamb or potato dishes or even sprinkle it on top of homemade pasta.
If you are looking to grow Parsley at home, you can do so on a sunny windowsill. It pairs well with winter squashes, roasted root vegetables, and soups. You can also chop it finely and sprinkle it on top of practically any savory dish.