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.
So Many Different Types of Salt out there, What Kind Should I Use?
Even though salt is regarded as being one of the most simple cooking ingredients, in all actuality there’s much more to it, than you may know. For starters, there are different kinds of salt and they each have their own characteristics that make them slightly different, so what kind should you use? While some are highly concentrated, other types of salt dissolve easier than others. In fact, if you aren’t aware of the differences between different types of salt, you could end up over or under-salting your food. Let’s take a look at different kinds of salt and when to use them.
1) Sea Salt
Chances are that, if you’ve heard about different kinds of salt before, you’ve heard about sea salt. Sea salt us less concentrated and finer than the traditional salt that we use. Sea salt is a popular choice amongst seafood restaurants, because its fine crystal makes it the best type of salt to use on delicate foods like shellfish and fish. Additionally, because it disperses evenly, sea salt is great for baking as well.
2) Iodized Salt
Iodized salt, commonly referred to as table salt, consists of anti clumping agents, which contribute to its distinctive metallic taste. Because of the fact that it’s highly processed, it has a weaker flavor and salinity than traditional salt. Meaning, you would have to add a greater amount of iodized salt, to get the same level of saltiness that you would get from using regular salt. Iodized salt is ideal for people who have to watch their sodium intake.
3) Coarse Salt
Coarse salt, also come from the sea. However, unlike sea salt, it’s more concentrated and doesn’t dissolve as easily. Most chefs proclaim that coarse salt should be used as a topping at the end, as opposed to using it as an ingredient in the cooking process.
4) Flaky Salt
Most people enjoy flaky salt more so for its texture than its taste. It has a distinctive crispy texture, which makes it great for adding a finish touch to a dish which has already been prepared. Based on the fact that it’s more expensive than other kinds of salt, most people who love it tend to avoid using it for general cooking purposes, and save it for special occasions.
5) Pink Himalayan Salt
Pink Himalayan salt, as its name suggests is pink in color as a result of its potassium, calcium and magnesium content. These extra chemicals which are not found in other types of salt, gives it a distinctive flavor. Most chefs proclaim that it’s ideal for finishing a dish.
6) Kosher Salt
Despite its name, kosher salt, isn’t exactly kosher. But, it’s called that due to the fact that the best use for it is to kosher meat, which is a process by which blood gets removed from the meat. Many chefs use kosher salt, because it has a low salinity which means that it’s quite difficult to over salt foods that you use it on.
With all these types of salt, we hope we answered your question of “what kind should I use?” At our Spice station online store, we also have an abundance of salt blends, including chile lime salt, and garlic pepper salt.
For something even more interesting and fun, check out our Hiwa Kai Black Lava Salt!
Try to add some Heat to your Recipes
If you are bored of your day to day eating routine, it just might be time to spice things up a little bit in the kitchen, both figuratively and literally. Different types of hot spices, spicy blends, hot sauces, and fresh peppers can all contribute different flavor profiles and heat levels to foods and individual dishes. Vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower are all delicious when roasted with hot spices. Proteins like chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and salmon are also all delicious when prepared with spicy sauces and seasonings.
Try Different Types of Hot Spices
Black pepper is not the only spice out there that will add some flavor to your food. In fact, black pepper is likely one of the most mild spices on your spice rack. Smoked hot paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper, and cayenne pepper are all popular choices for hot spices. Powdered and dried hot spices are perfect to keep in the pantry because they last for a very long time. This will allow you to spice up foods without having fresh ingredients on hand.
Try Spicy Blends from Different Brands or Make Your Own
Many different cultures and different brands produce their own spice blends. These blends can contain different herbs and spices, depending on the recipe. Spice blends can also easily be made at home by using a recipe or experimenting with random ingredients. Spice rub blends are delicious when used on smoked or grilled meats like brisket and ribs. When shopping for spice blends, make sure you find one that does not contain too much salt. Salt can always be added at home and the best spice blends focus on maximizing flavor and heat. Paying attention to heat level descriptions on product labels is important when shopping for hot spice blends. When making your own at home, it is sometimes easier to control the heat level. You can also tweak pre-made spice blends by adding your own addition salt, herbs, or spices.
Use Fresh Peppers to Spice Up Foods
If you have fresh peppers on hand, they are a great way to add heat to different culinary dishes. It is important to do your research and make sure that you know the heat level of the type of pepper that you are using. For example, when handling extremely spicy peppers like ghost peppers you will want to use great caution. Peppers that have extremely high spice levels should be cut carefully while wearing gloves to prevent heat transference. Other popular fresh peppers used to spice up dishes include jalapeno peppers, shishito peppers, red bell peppers, orange bell peppers, green bell peppers, chili peppers.
You can always take a look at our spice blends here.
What Spices to Use to Up Your Grilling Game
Becoming a Grill Master
Grilling is a useful skill that helps you to enjoy delicious meals, to keep the house cool inside during summer months, and to become the life of every party and entertaining situation. A good grill master knows how to flavor meats and vegetables with all of the right spices, sauces, and marinades. Keeping your pantry stocked with spice station spices is one key to grilling success.
Garlic powder is one of the healthier spices for grilling. It can be used for making marinades and can also be used in homemade spices blends. Garlic powder compliments all sorts of meats and vegetables that are delicious on the grill. This assortment includes steak, chicken, pork, mushrooms, asparagus, potatoes, and onions.
Real chopped onions are best used for marinades. When it comes to spice rubs for grilling, onion powder is a far better option. Even the finest chopped fresh or dehydrated onion will have a hard time sticking to meats that are about to go on the grill. Dry onion powder mixes well with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and other spices.
This is another one of the healthier spices for grilling. Paprika does not contain any sodium, so it can be used to give heavy flavor when avoiding or limiting salt intake. Paprika can give a delicious smoky, sweet, or spicy flavor. This depends on the type of paprika that is purchased. It is delicious on red meats like beef, venison, and lamb.
This is an important ingredient for smoky rubs and dry barbecue blends. Chili powders come in a range of varieties. Depending on personal preference and recipe needs, you can find chili powders of all heat and spice levels.
Iodized salt, sea salt, kosher salt, rock salt, and pink himalayan salt are just a few of the many salt options available for grilling. The right amount of salt is key for unlocking flavor and tenderness in grilled meats. Applying too much salt can give a bitter and overwhelming flavor. It also poses multiple health risks so we suggest keeping it to a minimum.
Freshly cracked black pepper and finely ground white pepper are two great options for grilling. Freshly cracked black pepper is a good complement to grilled vegetables like onions and asparagus and to grilled seafood like fish or shrimp. White pepper mixes nicely into a variety of spice rubs.
These are just a few spice station spices that can up your grilling game, check out our bbq rub spice set!
Healthy and Tasty Ginger
Ginger is a tasty spice and it is known to provide an abundance of health benefits to those who consume it. It is actually a natural and flowering plant and has been used as a form of medicine (folk). The actual plant had originated in Asia. It is known as one of the most healthiest spices in the world. Ginger is delicious and healthy all rolled into one spice. Ginger has a large variety of uses:
- syrups (simmered)
- much more
You will discover, there is much more to ginger than meets the eye because the health benefits are going to amaze you.
Ginger: The Enhanced Health Benefits
There are many health benefits of Ginger. Ginger fights nausea and it is known to be anti-viral in the sense that it is highly effective for fighting off many viruses. It is viewed as one of the healthiest spices around. Ginger will enhance health because it has many antioxidants in it which provides many health benefits:
* anti-inflammatory; it can offer anti-viral benefits, antibacterial, and various healthy properties. This is according to some research that has been conducted
* relieves morning sickness; it fights nausea and is safe for relieving morning sickness when pregnant. It is useful to those who are receiving treatment for cancer because it is common to have nausea with various treatments
* relief from flu and cold symptoms; ginger is often used to help people to recover from flu and cold symptoms. Fresh ginger is known to offer protection for the respiratory system. Ginger is used by many to ease some common health ailments
* relieves some aches and pains; some research has shown that daily doses of ginger can relieve muscle pains which may be the result of exercise. It is even known to reduce painful menstrual cramps
* supports heart health; ginger may be beneficial to help lower cardiovascular disease as it supports the health of the heart. Some researchers hold the belief that more studies may prove that ginger may be a safe treatment for treating heart conditions
* reducing cancer risks; ginger is a very good source of antioxidants and it may be useful in reducing the risk of getting cancer
* it tends to stimulate the circulation; it is even known to provide some warmth in terms of the effects
* prevention for ulcers; many people use ginger in place of taking ibuprofen or aspirin. Ginger is viewed as a natural option
These are only a sample of the many benefits which are associated with ginger.
Ginger: A Variety of Forms
Ginger comes in several different forms. It is a tasty powdered spice that enhances many food items. It can be used fresh and dried, candied, crystalized, pickled, and preserved. Ground ginger is the most popular because many use it in their cooking. There are over 100 different ginger plants. Ginger has many varieties and is part of the Globba family. Many people choose to take ginger supplements to enhance their own health while others simply love to use it to add flavor to their food.
Try our ginger root pieces here.
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.
Ways of Grilling the Perfect Steak
Typically, during the summer season, the grill comes on and people spend more time outside. Grilling steak is one of American’s favorite summer things to do. No one wants a bland steak, they want a juicy flavorful steak. May we suggest seasoning it with our Montreal Steak Spice to blow your tastebuds away. Read on for ideas on how to up your grilling game to make the most perfect tasting seasoned steak.
Selecting the Steak
Make sure that you consider the cuts of your steak. It is vital to select the best steak for the perfect marinade. Understand that there are various cuts of steak that are best for grilling. Some come with bones while others do not. Below are some of the cuts of steak:
• Tenderloin or Filet. This cut has no bones and is the most tender as well as the most expensive.
• Sirloin. This is usually a big cut of steak and can either have bones or not.
• New York. Usually have no bones and have excellent beef flavor.
• Porterhouse and T-bone. Have huge bones and are best for grilling.
Season the Steak
You have chosen your steak, brought it home, now is the time to marinate it to be prepared for the grill. While some people just like the simplicity of salt and pepper to marinate the steak, our Montreal Steak Spice will delight your palate. We use the freshest spices for the boldest flavors. This blend of Montreal Steak Spice usually includes ingredients such as pepper, salt, coriander, dill, mustard seeds, dehydrated garlic and onions, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and caraway seeds. Rub it into the steak on all sides and let it sit for about an hour at room temperature before putting it on the grill.
Tips for Grilling the and adding the Perfect Marinade
• First, turn on your grill. Make it hot as you can. Perfect heat gives the meat color and that color enhances the flavors.
• Secondly, spray the grill with oil a bit. This ensures that it does not stick. Then put your steak on the grill.
• After doing that leave your steak alone. Ensure that you are not poking or flattening it. You will turn it just once with tongs.
• Then time your steak right. Depending on your cut of steak and how you like it, cook your steak for about three to four minutes on each side. You can also use a thermometer where the rare ranges at 125 degrees, medium-rare is around 130 degrees, medium is about 135, medium-well is 140 while well done is above 140 degrees.
• Finally, take your perfectly seasoned and grilled steak off from the grill. Once you do that allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying it.
DIY Seasoning blends
One of the most popular trends being followed today is the trend toward healthier eating. Most people are trying to avoid unhealthy foods and seasonings that have additives and other harmful ingredients. A better way to accomplish the use of healthy seasonings is by making the blends yourself. You can add a combination of your favorite spice blends together for a do it yourself seasoning that is nutritionally better for the body. Some easy do it yourself seasonings include what you prefer, and like in your food.
Make a list
To start with your do it yourself seasoning blends, shop for your favorite spices. Get enough to make at least five different blends. You can either grow fresh herbs and spices in your garden or purchase them fresh from your favorite market. You can allow them to dry, or use them fresh. They will eventually dry on their own. Decide what spices will blend well together, and give you the flavor that you want.
Set up mixing materials
Get out the bowls, measuring spoons, and the containers to be used. Mason jars in various sizes are ideal for this project. This is something that the kids can help with. It will give them an opportunity to use their math skills. Once the spices have been blended, put them into containers and label. The herbs will sometimes clump together once they sit for a while, but just give them a stir and they are ready to use again.
Use the seasoning blends on favorite foods
A cajun blend will go great on chicken, pork, salmon, and burgers. Make up a chili blend to enhance soups, ground beef, and sloppy Joe’s. For grilling steaks, chicken, fish, and pork, a jerk blend is a perfect mixture. A tasty Mediterranean blend gives a zesty flavor to roasted vegetables, chicken, and seafood. These do it yourself seasoning blends puts you in control of your sodium intake and saves money on the expensive store-bought seasonings. Enjoy eating healthier and eliminating many of the harmful preservatives that are used in packaged seasonings by experiencing do it yourself blends.
You can purchase some seasonings here.