Guide for the use of spices I

Today we’re speaking about the use of some of the most common spices in our kitchen. As we already know, there are spices which mix with some foods better thatn with others. This is precisely what we are trying to explain, as well as we’ll give you some helpful tricks so as to get a better preservation.

Spices, employed with moderation, will add flavor to our dishes, an also as they will provide them with a distinctive colour and aroma. This way we are inviting you discover a nuew world of flavour.

Basil: It is an aromatic herb, with a fresh and intense flavour. When used fresh it is perfect to season saladas, pasta and sauces. A good example is the famous Italian pesto. With the vegetables it combines very well, for example with tomato.
If you use leaves of dry basil, it gives a very rich flavour to the stews of meat and fish, and to roasts too. It is highly recommended to add them at the end of the cooking.
It is remarkable that, unlike other culinary herbs, it is not recommended to freeze it, because it loses part of its flavour. The best way to preserve it is in oil, so at the same time we are giving some aroma to the oil that can help us season salads, toasts or pizzas.
Basil gets black when touching the metal, so it is better to cut the plant by hand.

Cinnamon: It is the rolled bark of a tree or a bush. This spice has a sweet flavour with a slight spiced touch. Its sweet flavour and aroma make cinnamon an ideal condiment for pastries, custards, rice with milk, etc.
Cinnamon stick preserves its aromatic properties better, while ground cinnamon has a more intense flavour. It is advisable to keep it in a hermetic tin, far away from the light and the humidity. You can give some extra flavour to your infusion by using a small cinnamon stick.

Bay: Bay leaves, whether they are fresh or dry, have an intense flavour and aroma. It is a very common herb in our cuisine, and you can put he whole leaf in the casserole or mash and dust it in the stew. It mixes fine with meat stews, legumes, boiled seafood, paellas… It is advisable to keep it in hermetic tins so that it conserves its aroma.
Would you like your legumes to cause less flatulences? Add a couple of bay leaves to your stews.
We hope this information is useful and you can make the most of the spices and herbs we sometimes have got in our kitchen but we don’t know very well what to do with them.

Just a piece of advise… give life some flavour!

Coriander

Coriander is an important spice crop and occupies a prime position in flavouring substances.  It was one of the first spices to be used as a common flavouring substance. The stem, leaves and fruits all have a pleasant aromatic odour. The entire plant when young is used in preparing chutneys and sauces, and the leaves are used for flavouring continental curries and soups. The fruits are extensively employed as a condiment in the preparations of curry powder, pickling spices, sausages and seasonings. Coriander seeds are also known for their medicinal properties and are considered carminative, diuretic tonic, stomachic antibilious, refrigerant and aphrodisiac. The volatile oil is also used in flavouring liquors and for obscuring the bad smell of medicines.

Seed spices contain a variable amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibres, minerals and vitamins. However, owing to the very small quantity used in the foods, their contribution to nutrient requirements is not significant. Proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins are thus less important in delineating the quality of spices.

 Cilantro

 

Caraway

Carum carvi L.

Caraway of the Apiaceae family, appears to have its origin in Asia Minor. The evidence of caraway was found in Middle Eastern Asia about 5000 years ago. The plant was well know to the ancient Egyptians and was introduced about 1000 years ago from northern Africa into Europe.  Caraway seeds have been mainly used as a condiment for flavouring food preparations into Europe and the Middle East from ancient times.

There are about 25 species Of Carum know to occur and only Carum carvi L. has an economic importance, being used and cultivated in several regions.

In a classification of plant organs used as spice, the caraway has been categorized as a seed spice because seeds are used raw, powdered or in the form of essential oil or oleoresins.

Caraway crop requires a dry temperature climate and thrives well in tilled soils, rich in humus at an elevation of 3000-4000 m. Caraway  grows as an annual at lower altitudes and as a biennial in higher altitudes up to 4000m above sea level. It prefers a lot of sunshine and low temperatures (16/20 °C) for flowering and seed setting of biennial types, whereas annual types of caraway require more heat for seed production.alcaravea 1

Aniseed

anis

Family: Apiaceae

Synonyms: Aniseed, Anis seed, Anis, Anise, Sweet cumin

Parts Used: Seeds (fruits), oil

Anise is and annual plant reaches and average height of 30-50 cm. The plant is completely covered with fine hairs.  The root is thin and spindle-shaped, the stem up, stalk-round, grooved and branched upward. In midsummer the thin stems are topped with umbrella-shaped clusters of tiny white flowers, which are heavy enough to make the stems flop.  They turn into seedlike fruits.  Anise is a cross-pollinating species and is genetically heterogeneous. The fruit is an ovoid-pearshaped somewhat compressed at the side. Commercially available aniseed usually contains the whole fruits and occasionally parts of the fruitstalk.  The fruits are downy. Their colour  is greyish-green to greyish brown.

Production and cultivation

Anise is cultivated in Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Russia, Italy, India, Greece, Northern Africa, Argentina, Malta, Romania and Syria. Anise is primarily exported from Turkey, and also from Egypt and Spain in particular.

P. anisum requires a warm and long frost-free growing season of 120 days. The plant needs a hot summer to thrive and for seeds to ripen. Anise develops best in deep, rich, well-drained, sandy and calcerous soils. Cold, loamy and moist soils are suitable for the cultivation of anise.

The thousand seeds weight of the part-fruits amounts to 1.5 to 3.0 g and should have a minimum purity of 90% and a minimum germination of 70%.

Ripe-fruits seeds germinate relatively quickly. The germination time is 14 days. Only seeds from the previous year’s harvest germinate well.  Optimun soil temperature for germination is 18-21° C.  It is essential to prepare good seedbeds and to create a good contact between the planted seed and the soil because the seeds are small and have low germination percentage (70%).

Properties

Anise oil have a number of functional properties:

▪Antibacterial

▪Antifungal

▪ Antioxidant

▪ Stimulant, carminative and expectorant