Sumac is an exotic berry with a rich history of use in many different countries around the world. It’s most commonly known in several areas of the Middle East where it is said to originate from. There are also reports of it growing in areas of the Mediterranean and even North America. Yet despite that, it’s no cakewalk trying to find sumac in stores and supermarkets. Many people are familiar with the word sumac because of the poisonous shrub that grows. The edible sumac is easily distinguished by its shape and color.
Sumac has a rich culinary history of use in Turkish, Arabic, and Lebanese cuisine. The Roman empire also used and enjoyed sumac for its unique flavors and health benefits for many years. There are even records of the medicinal benefits of it in ancient Greek texts. From spice rubs on meats, to desserts, vegetables, soups, stews, and side dishes, sumac has a wide culinary range. It blends well with sweet and savory dishes to add hints of tartness and citrus.
In most dishes, it works best when used as a small part of a blend rather than as a sole flavoring agent. The slightly sour, tart, and citrus notes compliment flavors such as cilantro, cumin, lemongrass, cardamom, spicy dishes, thyme, saffron, cinnamon, and brown sugar. With sumac, it’s important not to overdo it in quantity. Despite its versatility, the most exciting part of this berry is the multitude of health benefits it offers.
For starters, sumac berry is a very powerful antioxidant. The word antioxidant is so incredibly overused and abused in the health world. Everything is touted as having these potent benefits that will allow you to ride off into the sunset unperturbed by these damaging free radicals.
When compared to just about any other superfood, berry, herb, and spice, sumac is vastly superior as an antioxidant. In fact, it is often 20,40, to 100 times more potent than other powerful antioxidants. It usually comes in as number 1, or at least top 3 on any ORAC rating (measuring antioxidant capacity) list. Despite all the boasts and claims of most of these mainstream nutrients, this humble, barely known berry tops all of them with ease.
The benefits for of sumac berry for diabetes are quite significant according to research thus far. Several studies found a very big reduction in postprandial spikes in glucose levels. The insulin and glucose spike following a meal is one of the more damaging processes that occur in the body. Especially if meals are filled with unhealthy ingredients. This gives even more incentive to use sumac in cooking.
As we see, sumac can impact diabetes in many important ways such as improving insulin resistance, lowering glucose levels, as well as leptin levels. In many people, this hormone is out of balance and causes overeating. In human clinical testing, several measurements that hold great importance in health such as CRP, malondialdehyde, and insulin levels were positively impacted by sumac.
A study using a sumac extract improved cholesterol and lipid profiles in obese subjects. The extract cause HDL (protective) cholesterol to increase and LDL to decrease. The same study also saw a decrease in triglyceride levels. One of the main protective benefits is the effect sumac has at decreasing cholesterol from oxidizing and producing “foam cells”. This is when things become more dangerous. Studies show that stable cholesterol on its own isn’t harmful like we once believed.
A second study backed up sumac’s protective effects on the arteries. This study proved that this potent berry can lower a harmful type of cell from forming and migrating into the vascular walls. This cell, called a vascular smooth muscle cell, is an indicator of arterial disease. In addition, sumac shows promise for those suffering with high blood pressure.
Other noteworthy attributes include possible benefits for respiratory disorders, weight loss, infectious pathogens, and even bone loss. Human research is lacking for bone loss, but it still holds excellent potential based on what we know so far. The tart, tangy subtlety coupled with the fantastic health benefits may cause it to be a favorite in your spice cabinet. At Spice Station, we carry two high quality forms of sumac from Turkey and Syria.
Clove is a unique and powerful spice in both flavor and medicinal effects. Some say it originates from Indonesia, although there are reports of its existence dating back to ancient Syria. According to so evidence, traces of clove was found in a burnt down kitchen in Mesopotamia around 1700 BC. One of the original uses of clove is for freshening breath.
Since then, research on clove is uncovering an array of benefits and properties of this pungent spice. The strong potency and flavor are what stands out about it. Most people either like it, hate it, or perhaps tolerate it if disguised enough by other flavors. With clove, it’s all about the subtly and using it in the right way in cuisine. However, the health benefits make it worth tolerating, especially if you battle with certain ailments. So, what can you gain by adding more clove into your diet?
Blood Sugar & Diabetes
Research has uncovered some interesting and potent effects for diabetes and glucose levels. A study published in 2019 showed that the potent antioxidants and nutrients in clove may help lower glucose following a meal. The benefits were even greater for those that had pre-diabetes. The clove extract reduced the post meal glucose spike by over 25%!
Furthermore, clove may help promote insulin production and sensitivity when paired with cinnamon. The effects of both are enhanced when combined with each other. In addition, fenugreek may also add valuable benefits for diabetes and pre-diabetes when used on a regular basis. Several studies have further verified clove as one of the most potent spices for these conditions.
Clove for Infection Defense
One of the most powerful attributes of clove spice is its effects on different pathogens. Moreover, the oil has shown in many studies to defeat and disrupt many different types of infections. The compounds within it help halt the growth and spreading of organisms that can cause problems in the body if left uncontrolled.
However, the spice itself can also be helpful when germs are lurking. Its anti-microbial properties are what made it such a great breath freshener for so many years. In addition, clove is helpful for different types of fungal and yeast infections when used properly. If using clove essential oil, it must be diluted in order to be safe for use.
Clove may Lower Triglycerides
Triglycerides are certainly one of the biggest enemies of cardiovascular disease. Along with c-reactive protein and certain cytokines, these markers are important to keep stable. One small study saw a significant drop in triglyceride and LDL (the bad) cholesterol. Another study at Penn State noticed a 30% reduction in triglycerides when comparing a meal with clove, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic to a similar meal without the spices included!
Clove is well known for providing relief for toothaches. However, it is also helpful for muscle aches, bunions, wounds, and cuts. It’s important to properly dilute it first if using the oil or it will sting. Making a water-based extract from the tea and spice is fine to apply as is.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, preliminary research shows potential benefits for certain types of cancer, liver health, parasites, hypertension, digestion, ulcers, and more! Some of these aren’t yet totally proven, but encouraging research exists. Since it is safe to use, there’s no need to wait years to start benefiting from it.
Clove is also one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. The ORAC value is much higher than most superfoods that are always pushed for their antioxidant value. In hundreds of herbs, foods, and spices tested, clove ranks as number 2 behind only sumac bran. Very impressive potency for a humble and overlooked spice.
Should you Brine your Turkey?
The season for turkeys is just around the corner. While many people have their favorite way of cooking their bird, one thing that can’t be disputed is making sure it is properly brined. Brine a Turkey for added flavor!
Why take this extra step? Well, the answers are quite simple. For starters, turkey is not a naturally flavorful bird on its own. Brining helps bring flavorful seasoning into this meat or any meat for that matter. Also, let’s face it, nobody wants a dry and flavorless turkey. There is no joy in that.
Here are 3 tips for making sure that your turkey is properly brined for your big day.
1. The Fresher, The Better
The best thing to make sure your turkey soaks up as much brine as possible is to make sure you buy a fresh one. This is because frozen turkeys are usually injected with a sodium solution to make the meat stay fresher longer.
If you aren’t able to get a fresh one, don’t freak out. Brining a frozen one is better than not doing it at all. Just try to make sure the turkey is thawed properly.
2. What Type Of Brine for my Turkey?
Now that you have the perfect bird, the next thing to figure out is what is the best brine for you.
There are a multitude of premade brines in the store already made for your convenience. While nothing is wrong with these, making your own is the best way to go.
The brine that we suggest is our Turkey Brine. It contains sea salt, black pepper, rosemary, brown sugar, and brown mustard to help give you the flavor and aromatics you need for a turkey. Although it may not seem like much, this 4oz pack is enough for a 20-30 pound turkey.
No matter if you do or don’t use our Spice Station blend, just make sure it contains salt and use water or stock to give it enough liquid.
3. Overnight, Please
So how should you brine your turkey? The best way is to use an extra-large ziplock bag to put both the items in. It is also suggested to put this bag in a pan.
For maximum flavor, leave the turkey in the brine overnight after boiling the brine. Then take it out of the solution, rinse, and cook for at least 2 ½ hours. If you need your turkey sooner, just make sure you let the brine cool with 10 cups of ice before putting it on the turkey.
We hope this has answered why to brine a turkey. Happy eating!
The Right Time to Chow Down on Tasty Soup
It can be tough to cope with the weather getting colder in the autumn and winter seasons. There are some things, however, that can truly make up for outdoor temperatures that are the polar opposite of warm and inviting. Food can in many cases do the trick. If you’re a fan of filling up on warm and cozy foods, then soup may be right up your alley. What makes the fall and the winter so terrific? People cannot resist having the chance to chow down on soup that’s simultaneously warm, nutritious, and filling to the max. It’s soup season!
Fantastic Choices in Healthy Soups at Your Disposal
There are so many things that make feasting on soup such a fantastic idea for so many. Feasting on soup can help you pack in the vegetables. If you want to get your hands on all kinds of beneficial nutrients during the winter and fall seasons, then you should test out the joys of chowing down on vegetable soup. If you consume this kind of soup, then you may be able to try out advantageous ingredients like carrots, cabbage, green beans, onions, and peas. Carrots, first of all, can give you lots of beta carotene. Peas can give you sufficient fiber that can do your digestive system a huge favor.
Do you want to spice up your soup approach?
If you do, then there are just as many wondrous options waiting right here eagerly for you. You can enjoy something a bit more exotic thanks to miso soup. This soup has been a staple in Asian restaurants in the United States for many decades at this point. Other soups that are brimming with flavor are both black bean soup and minestrone. If you want to revel in a soup that has Iberian Peninsula flair, then you should check out gazpacho. It’s served chilled.
There are so many ways to relish the joys of healthy soups during soup season. There are so many vegetables that can give your soup vitality. There are so many incredible seasonings that can do the same. Have fun making your own.
Our fresh spices will help give your soup that flavor that you crave.
Salmon, It’s What’s For Dinner.
Sensitive white fish can prove to be difficult to prepare. Cook it the wrong way and it will break apart before you get to make your meal. Fortunately, salmon doesn’t fall into the category of “hard-to-cook” fish and is one of the best tasting kinds of fish you can buy. While it may not be as difficult to cook as tilapia, it does require good technique in order for it to be cooked thoroughly.
At the end of the day, if your only experience with salmon has been over-poached crap that’s served in an all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s time you learn some different ways of preparing this fish.
Grilling salmon is tricky, to say the least because it is not as sturdy as red meat. Ideally, when it comes to grilling this fish, you should leave the skin on if you want a nice thin crisp around it. Additionally, you should use our Fraser River Salmon Rub and marinate it for a few hours. Leave some of the marinade to mix with olive oil and coat the fish while it’s on the grill. For a more smoky flavor, consider using a charcoal grill for this way of preparing the fish.
Pan searing is regarded as being an effortless way to cook fish. It’s also the easiest way for the salmon to get overcooked. Therefore, ensure that you pay attention to the process and only keep it on each side for a couple of minutes.
Curing salmon isn’t as difficult as it sounds. This technique consists of mixing brown sugar, kosher salt, and pepper together to create a homemade marinade. You then let the salmon sit for 5 days so that it soaks up all the ingredients. After this, you should rinse the salmon and proceed to eat it directly on toast or bagels.
When it comes to some different ways of preparing salmon for dinner, braised is an unsung hero in the culinary fish world. You will be amazed at how simple, yet rewarding this technique is, as it requires very little work and produces great flavors. In order for you to braise salmon, you simply have to cook it in a flavorful liquid with ingredients that you choose in an oven. The end result is a tender fish that has been infused with robust flavor.
As always, salmon is a delicious protein you should learn how to make, and adding our spices will always make your meals exquisite.
Some history on a well-loved Mexican dish, Fajitas.
Currently, the Fajita meal is prevalent in all Mexican or Tex-Mexican restaurants. The meat can vary from steak to chicken or seafood. Also, some places have vegetable Fajitas. Notably, when the dish first came into existence, it was considered as an unwanted part of a cow, which is the skirt steak. The word Fajita has a Spanish origin from “Faja,” which refers to girdle, hence the word Fajita means a “little strap.”
How did Fajitas get its Start?
Fajitas were initially created at the end of the 1930s and beginning of the 1940s by Mexican ranch workers that were located in Texas. There were instances where the workers were paid with meat, which consisted of the least wanted parts like the head, entrails together with skirt steak. The workers taught themselves how to turn these undesirable parts of meat into a meal that can be consumed by serving the grilled marinated meat on tortillas.
Since then, the dish has frequently been served as a backyard and campfire dish. It was passed down from one generation to another but had no intention of making it a significant meal in restaurants.
At the end of the 1960s, Sonny Falcon worked at Guajardo’s Cash Grocery as a meat market manager and started trying out some experiments with the meat. In a festival in 1969, he set up a Fajita stand and sold them to the crowd.
Around the same time, other restaurants placed Fajitas on their Menu. After a short period, Ninfa Rodriguez established her restaurant and served traditional dishes such as Fajitas.
The 1970s became an excellent year for the Fajitas since they were sold in many restaurants, and it gained a lot of customers. Chefs started cooking Fajitas but changed the recipe a little bit and opted to use the soft sirloin section as an alternative to the initial skirt steak.
The dish has advanced and incorporated other meats such as shrimp or chicken, together with vegetables. It is commonly served in most restaurants together with toasty tortillas and also a mountain of sides. It is also commonly known to be served on a sizzling hot plate, to keep everything warm.
You are probably wondering where you can get some tasty Fajitas after reading about them. Almost any Mexican restaurant has them on the menu, but why not make them at home? With our Fajita blend, you will not be disappointed! Season any type of meat or vegetables with it, even beans as well!
The Best Korean BBQ at Home
What is Korean BBQ? It is a finger-licking meal suitable for a community: friends, family, and workmates. The meal creates a colorful event as diners surround an open grill; everyone prepares their own unique bite. The preparation time for Korean bbq is about 2-3 hours (when all the ingredients are ready).
The complete dish features various banchans (sides), sauces, marinated meats, and other ingredients. Your host or restaurant determines your meal preparation since the Korean barbecue culture is passed from one generation to the other through apprenticeship.
Korean BBQ Culture
Korean barbecue starts with family and friends coming together to enjoy a delicious casual meal. Each guest cooks their own pieces of meat and vegetables (and wrap them in radishes or lettuce). The dish allows flexibility; each guest uses unique spices, sides and wraps to prepare a distinctive flair. Everyone is a chef, irrespective of one’s cooking expertise.
How to Prepare Korean Barbecue
Find a grill or a hot plate that will allow diners to stand around. You can use the traditional metal grill or a hot plate with chairs all around. However, remember to place the grill in a well-ventilated place since charcoal produces toxic fumes.
You can choose to source ingredients from scratch and combine them yourself – however that process will require about a 7-month planning period. Alternatively, you can order marinated and fermented ingredients from online outlets if you do not have much time to complete the spice preparation process.
You will also need thin slices of beef or pork, rice, marinated beef (try our Korean BBQ blend), and wrappings (radishes and lettuce). The rule of the thumb is to pass by an Asian grocery store so that you can buy assorted ready-made sauces and spices for your Korean bbq.
What is Korean BBQ meat choice about? Korean barbecues have various meat options such as squid, pork belly, brisket, beef tongue, and short ribs. However, vegans can substitute meat with grilled eggplant, mushrooms, and tofu, among other options. Seasoning is everything. You can buy prepared meat from an Asian market, or try our Korean BBQ seasoning.
Ensure you have thinly sliced meat because they cook fast.
Serve Korean barbecue at home with various spices and sauces such as doenjang, ssamjang, and gochujang. Do not forget the fermented chili paste for a savory flavor. Preparing the pungent paste and other sauces may take a long to prepare at home; hence, order the ingredients from an online Asian store or brick-and-mortar outlet near you.
Some history on Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, and how to use the Italian Supper Blend.
Italian cuisine makes the top of the list when it comes to some of the most sought after dishes in the world. There are several Italian dishes you can try out, but until your taste buds touch the magic that spaghetti with tomato sauce offers, then you haven’t experienced the best of Italian dishes yet. Almost everyone that has had a taste of this fantastic Italian dish will always want more. Here is what you need to know about the origin of your favorite Italian dish.
History of Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
The tomato sauce and spaghetti dish date back to the 1800s when the natives of Naples, Italy, first used its recipe. One fact about tomatoes in Italy is that they were first introduced to Italy by the Spanish between the 16th and 17th centuries. Still, before the Neapolitans began embracing them, most Italians considered tomatoes poisonous. The common use for tomatoes, therefore, was for decorative purposes. After the 1800s, tomatoes became more common, and they were used with various dishes. In 1837 a recipe on tomatoes and spaghetti was published hence making this fantastic item an official Italian dish.
Tips for Preparing the dish
The best tomatoes to use in preparing spaghetti with tomato sauce are organic date tomatoes. However, other tomatoes can be used, but the rule of thumb is that the tomatoes have to be flavorful, have a deep red color, and be ripe. To have the best result with your tomato sauce’s taste, always use our Italian supper seasoning in the sauce. If you want to make it easy, just get canned tomato sauce and sprinkle our seasoning in it.
The way to make this dish can be prepared in two different ways, hence giving the users the freedom of choice on which method they want to follow. First, you can choose to have your spaghetti cook entirely in the sauce. That’s right, no boiling water. Secondly, you can choose to subdivide the required cooking time into two, then proceed to cook the spaghetti halfway in boiling water and then finish cooking in the sauce. While most chefs prefer the second method of preparation, the one guarantee you have is that this dish is world-class and you are destined to enjoy it.
A familiar blend used by cooks in French food
Herbes de Provence is a aromatic and familiar herb blend used in French and Mediterranean cuisine. It is traditionally used to flavor grilled meats, fish, stews, and soups. Its name is borrowed from the Provence region in France, where this herb blend is believed to have originated. And, because the Provence region is also known for its many lavender fields, lavender is often associated with Herbes de Provence, particularly in the United States. However, in French food, lavender is not a necessary component of this blend.
Common Ingredients in Herbes de Provence
The following herbs are frequently found in commercial blends of Herbes de Provence:
Some blends may also include:
- Lavender (more frequently used in the U.S.)
- Summer Savory
- Bay Leaves
French cooks are known for their expertise in cooking with herbs. They carefully select the ingredient notes chosen for their Herbes de Provence blends, depending on the meat, stew, or soup to be prepared. Traditional French food is especially delicious because of its enticing, skillful use of herbs.
Methods of Use
Certain rules need to be observed when cooking with herbs. Some factors to consider include:
- Depth of Flavor
- Cooking Method
- Recipe ingredients
Herbes de Provence provides complex depth of flavor, and so should be added prior to grilling or stewing to lend its flavor to the ingredients. A common technique is to marinate the meat or fish prior to grilling with a combination of oil and Herbes de Provence. This will deeply imbue the flavors of the herbs into the prepared meal. Herbes de Provence can be added to the base of a stew or soup at the same time stock is added to a recipe. A small cheesecloth, gauze, or organza pouch can be used to contain the herbs for easy removal at the end of cooking.
Consideration should be given to amount of Herbes de Provence when using pressure cooking or crockpot methods. Typically recipes would require a lesser amount of herb to produce the same herbal flavor notes given more intense heat or cooking time.
Specific herbal notes should complement the dish you are preparing when cooking with herbs. For example, marjoram and rosemary are especially delicious with lamb, while summer savory accents fish. Aromatic herbal notes are deliciously highlighted in an Herbes de Provence blend.
See our Herbes de Provence.
What is Kare Raisu, also known as Japanese Curry?
Although it may be unexpected to find curry on a Japanese menu, kare raisu, a thick and hearty stew, is actually one of the most popular entrees in the country. It was in the mid-1800s that the British introduced curry to Japan, finding it themselves in the former British colony of India. If you enjoy curry, it is easy to see why this Japanese comfort food is so well liked.
Like in any other curry, the heat level of kare raisu can be tailored to your particular tastes. It is a nice robust curry that can have any combination of delicious ingredients, so it can also be made to suit any occasion. While a commercially available ‘curry powder’ is available in Japanese grocery stores, more adventurous home chefs prefer to mix their own blend of spices.
If you have decided that you want to make this dish at home, know that this Japanese comfort food can be easily customized to your palette, and can use any ingredients you might have. It generally contains a multitude of vegetables and your meat of choice is served over rice. The rice serves to soak up the gravy and was crucial in past ages to fill a person’s belly. We are giving you a recipe for a very basic style of this stew, using the ever-popular chicken. It is worthwhile to note that a single package of curry tablets from the grocery store will generally make one pot of the stew. However, it can be used for a lot of different recipes.
– 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces.
– 2 chopped carrots.
– 2 chopped potatoes
– 1 chopped onion
– 2 cups water
– 2-3 tablespoons Kare Raisu blend
1. Saute meat and vegetables over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until soft.
2. Pour in water.
3. Bring to a boil then remove the pan from heat and add curry, stirring constantly with a spoon.
4. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
5. Serve over white rice, garnished with minced shallots, parsley or crunchy radish.
Our Kare Raisu is some of the best flavors you will ever taste.