Coriander seeds are actually fruit!
- Coriander seeds are used as a spice to flavour cooking, and are also known as ‘dhania’ and ‘coriandi seeds’.
- Coriander seeds are the fruit of an annual herb that grows up to 50 centimetre (20 inch) high.
- Coriander seeds are believed to be native to the Mediterranean and Middle East areas.
- Coriander seeds are from the family Apiaceae, the family of carrots and parsley, and come from the plant that has the scientific name of Coriandrum sativum or common names ‘cilantro’, ‘Chinese parsley’ and ‘Mexican parsley’.
- Coriander seeds are often used in curries, as well as in the spice mix ‘garam masala’, and is commonly found in dishes particularly from Southeast Asia to Africa to the Middle East.
- Coriander seeds are high in manganese, calcium, magnesium and iron.
- Coriander seeds have the flavour of lemon citrus and nuts, and they generally help thicken the sauces that they are usually found in.
- Coriander seeds are commonly used ground or whole, roasted, dried or fresh.
- There are different varieties of coriander that produce different sized coriander seeds, and they range from 1.5 to 5 millimetres (0.06 to 0.2 inches) in diameter.
- Coriander seeds have been used traditionally for medicinal purposes to treat a wide variety of ailments and they are said to have anti-diabetic properties.
Coriander, 2006, OzPolitic, http://www.ozpolitic.com/gardening/coriander.html
Coriander, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander
Cloves add another interesting flavour.
- Cloves are the unopened and dried flower buds of the clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum, that belongs to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.
- Cloves are native to some of the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, and one of the biggest producers of the spice now is Africa’s Pamba Island.
- Cloves appear to be small nails, and the name comes from Latin ‘clavus’, meaning nail, and they are sometimes used with an orange to make pomanders.
- Cloves are popularly used as a spice in dishes of meat, curry, marinade and fruit, as well as baked goods, commonly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
- Cloves contain the chemical eugenol, which produces approximately 85% of the strong flavour.
- Cloves have been used in some cigarettes and can be used to repel ants.
- Cloves and their oil are sometimes used in medicine as a painkiller for toothaches.
- In the 1600s and 1700s, the Dutch East India Company had a monopoly on the growing and trading of cloves in Indonesia, and in 1770, Pierre Poivre, a French horticulturalist, secretly obtained some seedlings from the spice trees from Indonesia, which he eventually introduced to the islands of Mauritius and Réunion.
- Cloves are very high in manganese, and they also contain vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as small quantities of other minerals and vitamins.
- Cloves can be bought ground or whole, and the ground spice loses its flavour quickest.
Clove, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clove
Cloves, 2014, The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=69
Cumin: a humble little spice that will improve your cuisine.
- Cumin is a historical spice that comes from a plant of the same name, native to parts of the Mediterranean, Middle East and India, which is from the family Apiaceae, the family of carrot and parsley.
- ‘Cumin’ is also known as ‘cummin’, ‘jeera’, and ‘jira’, and the plant’s scientific name is Cuminum cyminum.
- Cumin seeds are ridged and are a yellow-brown colour, 3 to 6 mm (0.1 to 0.23 inches) long, which are visually similar to caraway seeds, and they have a peppery, earthy and citrus flavour.
- What is known as black cumin, comes from a different, but related plant known as Bunium bulbocastanum, or the unrelated plant, Nigella sativa, both of which have a different flavour.
- Cumin was used in mummification processes in Ancient Egypt, and in the Middle Ages, cumin was used to symbolise love and faithfulness.
- Approximately 70% of the world’s cumin (270,000 tonnes or 300,000 tons per year) is produced in India, and is also the main exporter of the spice, although the country also uses all but 10% of what it produces.
- Cumin seeds are used mainly as a spice, either grounded or whole, in soups, gravies, pickles, bread products, and spice mixes, especially curry powder, as well as bird food.
- Cumin has been used for medicinal purposes, and is sometimes used to treat muscle cramps and problems in the digestive system, such as vomiting and appetite loss.
- Cumin has a relatively high content of iron and is a good source of manganese, calcium, vitamin B1 and phosphorus.
- Cumin was historically very popular among the Greeks and Romans, due to it being a good replacement of pepper that was expensive at the time.
Cumin, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumin
Cumin seeds, 2014, The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=91
Do not be carried away with caraway seeds.
- Caraway seeds grow on the caraway plant, that has the scientific name of ‘Carum carvi’, and is from the family Apiaceae, the family of parsley and carrot.
- Caraway seeds are shaped as a crescent and grow to be 2 millimetres (0.08 inches) in length.
- Caraway seeds are technically dry fruit, rather than seeds, from the European, and possibly Asian and North African, biennial plant of the same name that grows to be 40 to 60 centimetres (15 to 24 inches) in height.
- Caraway seeds have a taste hinting of anise and a smell of sweet pepper, and sometimes caraway thyme can be used as a replacement, along with similar flavoured spices that include anise, fennel, dill, cumin, liquorice-root and coriander.
- Caraway seeds are often used as spice, most famously in bread, but are also used in cakes, desserts, alcoholic beverages, German sausages, curry and Indian traditional food, among others.
- Oil can be distilled from caraway seeds, that is then used to add a pleasant smell to soap, perfume and other fragrant toiletry products.
- Caraway seeds are probably one of the oldest used spices, having been eaten for thousands of years, and in Ancient Egypt they were used to treat digestive system problems, and is still believed to be effective for the digestion of foods, soothe stomach pains and cramps, and to help prevent wind buildup.
- Caraway seeds have significant quantities of zinc, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and protein, and are high in calcium and dietary fibre.
- Caraway seeds were believed to ward off witches, so they were historically used as a ‘protection food’.
- Caraway seeds are typically brown to grey in colour, with a pale outline, and are harvested in the middle of summer upon ripening.
Caraway, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caraway
Grieve M, Caraway, 2014, Botanical.com, http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/carawa20.html
History of Caraway, 2014, Our Herb Garden, http://www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/caraway.html
Saffron, an expensive spice, use it wisely!
- Saffron is a spice that comes from the stigmas of the purple flowers of the plant Crocus sativus, and each flower contains three stigmas that are handpicked, and then dried.
- Saffron is native to the Middle East, and is from the family Iridaceae, the family of irises, and was historically popular among royalty, particularly kings and pharaohs.
- To make 1 gram (0.033 oz) of dried saffron, approximately 150 flowers are needed, making it the most expensive spice in the world.
- Saffron is typically an orange-red colour, due to the content of crocetin, a type of acid and crocin.
- Saffron spice sometimes has additives, such as dyed vegetable or plant fibres, making the spice impure.
- Saffron has historically been used in cooking and to make cloth dye, perfume, herbal medicine, body wash, hair dye, and woven into textile items.
- The Middle East’s Iran produces more than 90% of the world’s production of saffron, much of which is exported.
- Saffron is typically prepared by toasting or soaking the spice in hot water to release the flavour before adding to other ingredients, and is most commonly prepared in dishes from India, Persia, Europe, Arab and Turkey, such as risotto, paella, and bouillabaisse, and as a flavouring for rice, while it is occasionally used in alcohol, cakes, lollies and other drinks.
- Saffron can be sold, or bought, for up to $11,000 USD per kilograms and $5,000 USD per pound.
- Saffron has the taste of hay-like, bitter honey, and contains significant amounts of vitamin C, manganese and magnesium, while it is said to have a number of medicinal benefits, including improvement of vision, anti cancer properties, and benefits for depression.
Saffron, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron
Stradley L, Saffron – Crocus sativus, 2004, What’s Cooking America, http://whatscookingamerica.net/saffron.htm
Can you pass the salt, please?
- ‘Salt’ is also known as ‘table salt’, ‘common salt’, and ‘sodium chloride’, and depending on where it was sourced, ‘rock salt’ or ‘sea salt’.
- Salt is a chemical mineral that is produced in saltwater lakes, rivers and seas (sea salt), and it can also be found in the sedimentary layers of dried-up lakes, or ‘halite’ as the mineral is called (rock salt), from where it is mined.
- Salt is made of the elements sodium and chlorine, and when combined they make ‘sodium chloride’ or ‘NaCl’.
- Salt is an important ingredient in a balanced diet and in human health, although the recommended daily intake is no more than a teaspoonful, or 4 g (0.14 oz), but most people who eat processed food, will consume much more than that each day.
- Too much salt can increase the risk of heart disease or the risk of stroke, as well as increase blood pressure and can cause other health issues.
- Salt can be used as a food preserver, and was commonly used for this purpose before refrigerators were invented and before canning became popular.
- Salt is typically small, white or clear coloured cubes, that may be tinted purple, blue or other colours due to contaminants.
- In history, salt was a vital commodity, and essential to many communities’ survival, due to the need to preserve food to get through winter and bad seasons, and for this reason it has been used as money, and at one stage, was worth as much as gold.
- Table salt is a popular addition to processed foods and is a popular seasoning.
- Out of the total salt production on earth, only 6% is consumed by humans, while 68% is used in manufacturing processes, which includes the making of plastics, detergents and soaps, and numerous other products.
Salt, 2011, Better Health Channel, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Salt
Salt, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt