Spices and Herbs

These are a basic and valuable source of flavours. The distinction between a herb and a spice is a bit vague, but it is commonly considered that a herb flavour accompanies a savoury or non-sweet food, and a spice a sweet product. Parts of plants are collected, dried and ground to form a strongly aromatic powder which can be used directly in or on a food. Many of the plants involved grow in tropical countries and it should be remembered that the hygiene conditions associated with harvesting, drying and storage many not be good. Where these materials are to be used in foods which will not be heated to sterilise them it is possible to purchase special grades that have been checked for microbial contamination.

Ground herbs and spices carry the aromatic elements in the cells of the plant tissues. The finer the material is ground the more of the flavour is released and will evaporate during storage. All powdered spices and herb materials are particulate and will affect the colour of the product in which they are used.