Here is a detailed chart-for-spices-and-herbs to use in everyday cooking. Try some of them to add spiciness to your food.
This is a spice that is grown on the island of Jamaica. Allspice berries are dark brown in color and are slightly bigger than a peppercorn. Their flavor and aroma are a mix of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Allspice is used mostly in Caribbean cookery but this spice is used heavily in Jamaican cuisine. This seasoning is added to Jamaican "Jerk Seasoning" which is a paste that is used to marinate meats.
Whole allspice will keep up to three years and ground will last for one and a half years for storage.
This cooking herb is widely used in many dishes. It is usually cooked into a dish to impart its flavor. It should not be eaten and should be discarded after cooking. There are different kinds of bay leaves such as Mediterranean and California. But dried, is most common. Mediterranean bay leaves can sometimes be found in the summer months. California bay leaves can be purchased dried or fresh anytime of the year.
This herb is most often used in homemade stocks and sauces. The flavor of bay leaves is of a smoky flavor.
Sweet basil is known to most to be used in Italian cooking. But did you know there are more than fifty different kinds? Some of these varieties include Holy basil, Genovese basil and lemon and lime. Thai basil is used in Asian cooking.
Sweet basil takes on the flavors of anise, clove and mint. Fresh basil should be added towards the end of the cooking process. I think this is one herb that is best used fresh. When using dried basil, use in the beginning of a recipe to develop the flavor.
Cilantro also know as coriander looks a lot similar to Italian parsley. It has a pungent smell and has a citrus flavor. This herb is used widely in Asia, Latin America and Middle Eastern cuisines. In Spanish cuisines it is referred to as "Culantro" and used mostly in Cuban and Puerto Rico foods.
Cilantro should be stored in the refrigerator in the warmest section wrapped in paper towels and then placed in a plastic bag. If you have cilantro from your garden, which has the roots, place in a glass filled with water to keep the fresh cilantro moist.
Curry & Chili Powder
Curry Powder (on the left) is basically a combination of spices. Curry powder is used a lot in Indian cuisine. But this spice is used in some other ethnic cuisines, such as Thailand and Jamaica. Most popular curry powders have a blend of turmeric, cumin, coriander and fenugreek included in the spice blend.
Chili Powder (on the right) is also a spice mix of cumin, garlic, oregano and chili peppers. Chili powder can be bought mild or hot. If it is made on the milder side, paprika is substituted for the chili peppers. For a hotter blend the chili peppers is added to the mix. This spice is known to most to be used in Mexican cooking.
Cloves are very aromatic and have a spicy taste, almost hot. They are dark by nature and somewhat woody in texture. It is a legendary spice used by Europeans, North Africans and Indians. This seasoning is also very popular in Asia. Cloves should be used in small quantities. This spice can also be purchased powdered for convenience.
Cayenne pepper is also referred to as red ground pepper. This pepper is used mostly in spicy cooking and is commonly used in Mexican, Spanish and Cajun Creole cookery. The color of this spice ranges from deep orange to deep red.
This is a picture of cumin seeds. However, this spice is usually purchased ground. The smell of cumin is pungent and has an earthy flavor. Its popularity is in the Middle East, North Africa, India and Latin America. Most associate this spice with Mexican cuisine, which season bean dishes. There is also black cumin which is more expensive than regular cumin. This spice is grown Iran and Kashmir. It is more aromatic than regular cumin and more complex in flavor.
If you like keeping cumin on hand, it will last up to three years.
Garlic is a seasoning used in most dishes. The cloves are covered in a papery skin and come in different varieties. You can purchase whole, powdered and chopped in oil or water with preservatives. You will sometimes find a version called "elephant garlic" which is larger than regular garlic and has a milder taste. When shopping for garlic, you should buy whole cloves that feel firm when touched.
Ginger is used commonly in Asian cooking. However, its appeal has shown up in a variety of ethnic cuisines. Fresh ginger has a hot and spicy taste when eaten raw. It can be purchased fresh, whole, powdered or candied. To preserve fresh ginger for longer periods of time, up to six months, you can place in a zip lock bag and store in the freezer.
Habanero peppers(shown in picture) Scotch Bonnet peppers
Habanero peppers are really spicy hot! (They are no joke, so be careful with these if you are new to eating spicy foods.) When ripe they take on the colors of red and orange and have the texture of waxy flesh. The flavor of habanero peppers has a distinctive taste used a lot in Caribbean cooking.
Scotch bonnet peppers are often compared to the habanero because of the similar taste and heat. They look slightly different, as the scotch bonnet is rounder. It is officially one of the hottest peppers of the world. Their colors change the same as the habenero from red and orange. Jamaican cuisine is known to use mostly scotch bonnet for some of their dishes. Examples are "Jerk Chicken" and "Curried Goat."
Habanero peppers can be found at your local supermarket and scotch bonnet peppers can be found in specialty ethnic markets.
This pepper is used mostly in Mexican cooking, but can be used in any dish you prepare when you want some spice, with not too much heat. Jalapeno's are usually purchased green but can turn red when ripe. Jalapeno's can be purchased as a "chipolte pepper" that has been smoked and comes in an "Adobo Sauce."
Rosemary is very aromatic. They are sturdy and have the aroma and texture of pine needles. Fresh rosemary is preferred in most cooking dishes. If using dried, chop finely before using.
This herb is especially good with fatty meats such as chicken and pork.
Red onion is another favorite, I like to use instead of ordinary white. The flavor is milder and has a sweeter taste. They are delicious to eat in salads. This onion is often called for in a recipe when making homemade salsas.
Salt & Pepper
This is my preferred choice for cooking and also what most professional cooks will use. This grain of salt has a clean taste and doesn't taste as "salty" as regular table salt. Kosher salt is larger in texture, which allows you to easily pinch an amount you want into a dish.
Fresh pepper is a must to finishing off a dish. Black peppercorns are standard in most kitchens, but some retail stores, such as William Sonoma will carry different varieties such as white, green, pink or a combination of all. White peppercorns are used mostly in sauces where you don't want to see black specks appearing in the finished product.
Scallions are referred also as spring or green onions. This is another favorite of mine to cook with instead of white onions. Scallions are less sharp in flavor. You can replace scallions in dishes when you want a milder onion tastes.
Shallots I've become quite fond of. Its look and feel is similar to a small onion. The taste however is a combination of onion with a little taste of garlic. So if you really don't like too much garlic in your food, try shallots.
Shallots are more expensive than regular onions because they are imported from France. But they are a nice way of adding a slightly different flavor to dishes.
This is one of the most expensive spices on the market. The use of saffron is used in the common Spanish dish called "Paella." Saffron has an earthy aromatic flavor. But, because it is highly concentrated, you only need to use a small amount. Spain and Iran hold the percentage of the production of this spice. When looking for this spice, buy only the best you can afford and avoid dry. Look for quality saffron from Indian or Spanish markets.
Saffron can be soaked in water or milk to bring out the flavor. Then add mixture according to your recipe.
Thyme appearance in color is of a faint grayish green and has the distinctive taste of almost cloves. It is one of the herbs, which can be used in a variety of cuisines, such as Middle Eastern, Caribbean and American cooking. This herb is diverse and has been used in Cajun and Creole cuisine as well as the foundation for Jamaican "Jerk Seasoning."
Because dried thyme is so strong in taste, it is especially good to cook with when preparing spicy foods. There are also other varieties of fresh thyme such as lemon, which you can purchase through your farmers market.
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