Tag Archives: spices
What Makes Saffron so special?
The way we value anything is largely dependent on the effort we put into getting it. This is especially true of saffron of which is asked why so special. Why is it “one of the most precious spices in the world”? Its highly labor-intensive production is one factor that makes it a most expensive spice.
What is saffron?
It comes from the saffron crocus flower. There are three stigmas in the center of each flower. These must be manually taken out, placed on a sieve to dry over a heat source to enhance the flavor. According to one source, it can take more than 75,000 flowers harvested by hand to make one pound of it. With so much labor going into the production of saffron it must be considered special.
The many uses and health benefits derived from the use of saffron also makes it a special spice. Research suggests that this spice is:
• an aphrodisiac, among the health benefits associated with its use.
• It also offers protection against cancer. Crocin, which it contains has been found to prevent the formation of malignant cells and trigger cell death for different types of human cancer.
• While not affecting normal body cells, it also stimulates immune cells that help destroy cancer cells.
Studies have also shown that crocin is useful for age-related mental problems and is used in treating memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, and inflammation. Saffron is also useful as a stimulant. A pinch in a tablespoon of milk is useful to promote hormone production in underdeveloped girls. As an aphrodisiac, it can be used for low libido to be taken at bedtime. Mixed in licorice and milk, saffron also is an effective topical application to promote hair growth. It is also an effective treatment for cold and fever that gives quick relief.
There are other ways in which this spice is used including it as food additives. It is also a culinary treasure that is used in combination with other condiments, to marinate fish and add color and a rich aroma to cakes and other foods and drinks.
The labor that goes into producing what is saffron and the many ways in which it is useful, makes it an incredibly special spice.
Come see our saffron here.
Eat Cinnamon Every Day For Better Health
Cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon toast crunch. Cinnamon apple crisp. These cinnamon-based dishes are not only delicious, but you may be surprised to hear that the cinnamon in them provides a wealth of health benefits, too. There are many health benefits of cinnamon that you may not have known about. After reading the following list, you may begin using cinnamon in your everyday cooking and food preparation more and more.
Cinnamon has antioxidants
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals in your body that may cause damage to your cells and lead to degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Cinnamon is chock-full of antioxidants. It even has more than the presumably healthier “superfoods” such as garlic or oregano. Therefore, a steady diet of cinnamon may help bring you to the regular level of antioxidants you need to avoid contracting these terrible diseases.
Cinnamon may prevent heart disease
Another major health benefit of cinnamon and its regular consumption is that it may prevent heart disease. Studies have been conducted that showed people who consumed small samples of cinnamon per day saw a significant decrease in their LDL cholesterol levels, which are known to clog arteries and cause heart disease. In addition, the people who ate cinnamon saw their triglyceride levels go down as well. These two factors combined make it likely that cinnamon consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cinnamon Can Fight Diabetes
The nutritional community is well aware of cinnamon’s ability to lower blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that taking as little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 30%. It does this through two molecular interactions. First, it blocks several digestive enzymes which slows down the breakdown of carbs into sugar. Second, cinnamon mimics insulin and is able to have your cells take in glucose at a slower and more steady rate.
There are many health benefits of cinnamon that you may not have been aware of. Now that you have learned some major ones, go ahead and find more and more opportunities to eat cinnamon every day!
See our cinnamon varieties here.
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric, in addition to being a popular spice used in many cuisines around the world, is also a staple ingredient in many supplements, as it has been scientifically proven to help with a multitude of ailments. Turmeric is derived from a chemical, Curcumin, which is a fat-soluble chemical that you can take as a daily vitamin. Turmeric is believed to help ward off dementia, relieve heart problems, and reduce general inflammation in the body. Keep reading to know the health benefits associated with turmeric and what it actually is.
How Do People Usually Ingest It?
Turmeric as a spice can be added to give flavor and an orange tinge to many savory dishes, including omelets or pasta dishes. It may also be steeped in hot water to produce a soothing, antioxidant-rich tea-like drink. The root chemical, Curcumin may be purchased at a regular supplement store, or even at some drug stores. You can take the recommended dosage (a capsule or two) with a full meal, as this chemical is fat-soluble, so just taking it with water will not do much for you.
Where is Turmeric Usually Found?
Those who love their food to be brightly colored and packing a ton of flavor probably know that turmeric is a spice that originated in India. It is a staple of the cuisine in that part of the world, and wild turmeric grows on plantations along the mainland of India and several Indian Ocean islands. It was in Indian medicine that turmeric made its emergence and people began to really learn what it is and its great health benefits. They saw that tea made from steeping the spice resulted in greater health and vitality.
With an Indian restaurant in just about every community, you have every reason to ask “What is turmeric?” Once you realize how it can be used to add color, flavor and a few health benefits to every meal, you will be sure to keep it in your kitchen. Add turmeric to your favorite dishes or brew some tea and see how this antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spice can help you.
See our Turmeric here.
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.
How To Make Your Own Dried Herbs And Spices
There are several benefits to making your own spices and herbs, and you need to learn how to do that if you want to save what you grow in your garden. The process of drying the herbs and spices is easier than you might think, and they also taste better than what you can get in a store. Here are a few tips, as found on Farmer’s Almanac, for making your own spices and herbs.
Harvest The Herbs When They Are Small
You don’t want overgrown spices and herbs for drying, but you will want to pick them when they are small and fresh. The best time of day for cutting the herbs is once the dew is gone in the morning hours. Harvest them when they are healthiest so that they will taste great when dried.
Give The Herbs A Gentle Wash
You might be able to get away without washing some of the herbs if they don’t have the appearance of dirt on them, but those that look a bit dirty need to be gently washed. You can use a bowl of water to put them in and give them a gentle bath in it. Don’t touch them too much or you might bruise them.
Dry And Store The Herbs
Once the herbs are washed, you will need to find a good place for them to dry. You will want to keep the dried herbs out of the sun because the sunshine can ruin their flavor, and you will want to hang them upside down so they will dry quickly. Allow the air to dry them, and then get airtight containers to put them away. To store the herbs, remove the leaves from the dried plants and save them. Keep the containers in a cool part of your house to keep them fresh.
A Few Things To Keep In Mind For Dried Herbs
- Harvest them at an optimal time before they freeze.
- Make sure they are fully dried before you store them away.
- Store them away from moisture and sunshine.
See more about our herbs and spices here.
Transform your leftovers using spices
They say that fresh is best, but often, leftovers taste better the next day. Many, for example, think Thanksgiving Day turkey is great, but leftovers such as turkey sandwiches, perhaps with a little mayo and cranberry sauce, could sustain many for a week.
One way to really make those leftovers “zing” is by adding spices to them. Here are a few examples:
In India, they have a technique called “tadka,” which involves tempering spices by briefly heating spices in either oil or clarified butter in order to release the aroma of the spice.
Indian women who want to revive leftovers swear by taking a few cumin seeds, heating them along with a little onion in either clarified butter (ghee) or oil. Once the tadka is prepared, it is then mixed with yesterday’s dish, and you have a whole new and inviting meal.
Malaysian Fried Noodles
Have you ever cooked too much pasta and don’t have any spaghetti sauce to freshen it up for a meal. Most likely, since pasta is relatively cheap it went into the garbage, or maybe into your compost in the garden. But consider this recipe for Malaysian style fried noodles.
You add dried cloves, onions, ketchup, fish sauce, and sugar, (I personally like to add some white pepper as well,) add some pork or prawns, together with yesterday’s pasta along with some tomato and other vegetables, then heat it in a hot skillet with oil for a couple of minutes.
Spice-up leftover pizza
One thing that generally doesn’t taste better is yesterday’s leftover pizza. However, that’s because you don’t get creative with it. A popular Chicago pizza chain has these ideas: add mozzarella cheese, onion, pepper flakes, minced garlic, oregano, and melted butter together with some egg, and milk. Pour it over the leftover pizza and bake for 45 minutes.
Whether you ordered Chinese, Thai, or Indian, chances are you got too much rice and have two choices, throw it away or revive it. Throwing it away is so wasteful, so consider reviving it by frying it, then add onions, scallions, garlic, or ginger; chopped fresh or frozen and if you prefer some additional spices like cumin. Mix in a little hamburger meat and you’ve got something 10 times better than Hamburger Helper.
Look at our spices here.
Nutmeg is typically ground from evergreen tree seeds. It can be cultivated from any species within the genus myristica. It is made from the seed, and mace is made from the leftover webbing around the shell. Nutmeg has many uses. It was a staple of 18th-century cooking, and many people currently add it to sweet foods like cookies, oatmeal, and cake. Those who are wondering how this spice tastes should consider purchasing some raw seeds and grinding them for the freshest taste.
You should grate nutmeg fresh to preserve the flavor. If the natural oils dry out, then the taste will disappear. Whole seeds should be covered and stored in a cool place. An entire seed should provide approximately two or three teaspoons of ground spice. This spice also goes well with dairy products. It is often used in custards, puddings, and warm milk. Ice cream from Grenada often includes a lot of of this wonderful spice. Cooking with nutmeg is relatively simple. This spice can actually be used in just about any recipe. Some people add this spice to grilled steaks or popovers. Those who are considering cooking with this spice should start by using small amounts. Large quantities can overpower the flavor of a dish.
For delicious and timeless desserts, try baking with nutmeg. Try baking a cake can be made from nutmeg, sour cream, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and eggs. You can shop online to find a specialty product that suits your specific needs. This spice can be combined with:
When baking it’s important to remember that a small amount goes a long way.
How to Shop Nutmeg Online
It’s pretty easy to shop this spice online because the it’s inexpensive and easy to find. If you’re looking for a specialty product, then you may want to examine an online store that specializes in different spices. This spice has a very unique flavor and aroma. Learn more about the history of nutmeg, here.
Here is a list of herbs and spices to bring the spirit of the holidays to your home. These are simply the must-have spices for the holidays. You can do a quick google search of holiday spices online to find the best place to buy spices online.
Some more common ingredients include:
It can be used to make a deliciously cozy fall drink and is a key ingredient in the pinnacle of all holiday meals, Pie. You can find a pre-made spice mix in the grocery store, but they are often $5 for a few teaspoons. There is no need to purchase those overpriced plastic containers of pre-mixed herbs and spices from the store. Do a quick search for holiday spices online to find the best place to buy spices online. You won’t even have to leave your house!
You can make your own with just a few ingredients:
These are just a few of the must-have spices for the holidays. If you can’t find any of these herbs and spices in your local store, check out the best place to buy spices online.
Grilled Zucchini and Corn
One delicious and simple combination from the Spice Blog consists of a few simple steps. The key is to prep the vegetables and allows time for marinating, getting the grill going, and getting the perfect grill marks. With only a handful of steps, some patience, and some knowledge of great spices, you will be able to create low-fat, nutritious dishes with the wonderful, warm quality of cooking with a grill right away.
Spices for Veggie Recipes
Maybe you like simple salt and pepper. Maybe you love spice and heat. Possibly you’re more into fresh herbs or citrus. However, you grill veggies, knowing a few spices for veggie recipes will optimize how you can combine your flavors.
Here is one simple mix to add some flavor and depth to your cooking:
- 2T Hungarian paprika
- 1t fresh black pepper
- 1t dried thyme
- 1t dried rosemary
- 2t garlic powder
- 1/2t ground chipotle pepper
Simply mix the ingredients together and season your veggies after they’ve been prepared but an hour before you plan to grill veggies so they have a chance to marinate.
Other great spices for prepping veggies include ones with an ethnic twist such as this Thai version:
- 1.5c packed cilantro
- 8 peeled cloves of garlic
- 2T fish or soy sauce
- 1T water
- 1t fresh black pepper
- 1t chili garlic sauce
- 1/3c vegetable oil
- 2lbs vegetables, cut into pieces
Process all the ingredients except the oil and vegetables in a processor and blend. Add the oil as it mixes. Toss the vegetables in the paste then let them sit an hour while preparing the grill. Serve with rice or noodles and enjoy!
This experience can be said of any spice, whether it’s cinnamon, nutmeg, or a dried herb. One particularly refreshing – and absolutely ancient – spice to try at is grinding cardamom, a pod that is perfect floating in coffee or in sweet or savory dishes, as explained here. To get an idea of how to test out these flavors and your mill, let’s check out an example of savory cardamom recipes perfect for dinner:
Spiced Chicken and Rice Pilaf
- 4 chicken legs
- 2-1/2T cooking oil
- Ground cardamom
- Salt to taste
- 1/8t fresh black pepper
- 1T butter, quartered
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1-1/2c basmati rice
- 1/4c raisins
- 2-1/4c stock
- 1/4c apple juice
Heat the oven to 450F. Coat 1T of oil on the chicken and season as desired. Roast it in a pan with a pad of butter on each leg about 30 minutes. Heat the rest of the oil in a pan, sauté the onion, then add the rice and spices, stirring well. Add raisins, broth, and salt to taste, boiling and simmering for 20 minutes while covered. Take the pan from the heat with the cover on for 5 more minutes before stirring it with a fork. Take out the chicken and remove the fat from the pan, putting it back on the heat with the juice and some spices, stirring until 2T is left. Serve the chicken with a side of rice, drizzled with the reduced sauce.
Cardamom recipes can be found in various places around the world and always offer incredible spice depth whether that recipe is for a cold or hot drink, a dessert, or meat, salad, or rice dish. In addition, practicing grinding spices means your recipes will explode with unmatched flavors.
Did you notice a difference by grinding Cardamom? Let us know!
Get More from the Spice Station!
Check out more recipes, spice recommendations, storage tips, and more from our Spice Station blogs! Browse through our collection of spice blogs, here. Also, we’d love to hear from you! Have an idea for a spice blend, a favorite recipe, or blog post you want to write? Message us here today and we’d love to feature you and your ideas on our Spice Station blog!
Shop for Spices Online!
Ready to shop online for some of the world’s best and most exotic spice blends? Shop our online spice store, here! Want to learn more about spices? Check out our post on spices and how to keep them fresh, here! Want to browse our blog for more recipes that test your limits with ingredients, that show up to the table with a dynamic, thoughtful, and memorable taste? Let’s spice up your ingredient list, dinner menu and chef reputation? Click here for our spice blog, here.