About Herbs, Spices and Seasonings

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Wed, 2009-12-02

Caraway seeds can be used for tea: crush the seeds and steep them in hot water, or use the seeds whole or ground for flavouring foods. Be careful if you use Caraway Oil as it may irritate mucous membranes.


Apart from ground cardamom, there are also several different types: white, green, and brown. Cardamom is said to be one of the most expensive spices in the world. Cardamom comes in the form of a pod, inside of which are small black sticky seeds which contain most of the flavour. These pods are sometimes used whole and at other times split and the seeds extracted.

It smells similar to menthol and because of this fragrance it is often a popular addition to Indian Pilau rices. In Scandinavia it is commonly used in cakes and pastries.


The oil and bark are both used in cinnamon. It is renowned for its properties, which are: Astringent, stimulant, carminative, anti-infective, antifungal, and digestive.

It is commonly used as a flavouring for foods, it is said to aid digestion, and lessen the potential of food poisoning or food-borne disease. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, India and is one of the spices responsible for the start of world trade.


In cooking the unopened flower bud is used. It is most commonly used in cooking curries and with fruit such as apples. Clove has properties that are: Anaesthetic, germicidal and insect repellent.


Fenugreek is one of the earliest spices known to man. Ancient Egyptians used it as a food, medicine and an embalming agent. The ripe, dried fruit of a quick-growing annual herb, fenugreek has a strong, pleasant and quite peculiar odour similar to maple.


Banana Ginger Bread

  • 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup of margarine
  • ½ cup of buttermilk

Stir flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together. In an another bowl beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in bananas, ginger and lemon peel. Stir in the flour mixture.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour in the mixture. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.


The name is derived from a mediaeval word for ‘nut,’ meaning ‘suitable for an ointment.’ The mace tree is a small evergreen, not more than 40 feet in height, with smooth, greyish-brown bark, green on the younger branches. The alternate leaves are oblong-ovate, acute, entire, smooth, and dark-green. The flowers are very small and unisexual. The fruits, smooth and yellow, resemble a pear grooved by a longitudinal furrow and contain a single erect seed about 1 ¼ inch long, the nucleus being the wrinkled ‘nutmeg,’ and the fleshy, irregular covering, scarlet when fresh and drying yellow and brittle, the ‘mace.’

Most of the supply comes from the Banda Islands by way of Java and Sumatra. The ‘blades,’ ‘bands,’ or flattened, lobed pieces are about 25 mm. long, smooth, irregular, translucent, brittle or flexible, and if scratched or pressed exude an orange coloured oil.

An inferior Mace is obtained from the long nutmeg, dark and very brittle and lacking the fragrant odour and aromatic taste of the official variety. The medicinal properties resemble those of nutmeg, but it is principally used as a condiment.


The seeds, oil and leaves of this plant can be used. Dill is known for its medicinal properties of: Carminative; digestive aid; appetite stimulant.

It is commonly used in cooking, as dill water or as tea made from pouring boiling water over the seeds. Dried leaves and seeds can be found in the spice section.

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