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Ch. 8: Flavorings from Plants Definitions Herbs: leaves and stems: fresh or dried Spices: dry seed, bark, root, fruit Examples Herb: basil (leaves) Spice: cinnamon (bark) The Nature of Flavor Part taste, mostly smell Taste categories: Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory (umami)

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definitions
Definitions
  • Herbs: leaves and stems: fresh or dried
  • Spices: dry seed, bark, root, fruit
  • Examples
    • Herb: basil (leaves)
    • Spice: cinnamon (bark)
the nature of flavor
The Nature of Flavor
  • Part taste, mostly smell
    • Taste categories:
      • Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory (umami)
    • Smell or aroma categories
      • Thousands due to a complex mixture of aroma characteristics from many molecules
history of spices european perspective
History of Spices: European Perspective
  • Tropical Asia always had numerous spices
  • Romans had pepper (yawn!)
  • Arab traders bring exotic spices to ancient kingdoms

(3000 BCE -200 BCE) by "the Golden Road of Samarkand"

  • Romans take over spice trade for 1000 yrs (200 BCE – 1200 CE)
  • Turks control supply routes to Asia; Portugal and Spain find new sea routes to Asia (de Gama, India) and discover New World to boot (Columbus)
  • Portuguese then Spanish control the Spice Islands until 1600, followed by the Dutch
  • Spices planted in other tropical countries (West Indies), price drops, demand decreases in Europe
  • US interest in Asian and Latin American foods 1965 to present sharply increases demand for spices
a closer look at some herbs and spices
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Allspice
    • Allspice takes its name from its aroma, which smells like a combination of spices, especially cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
    • Found exclusively in the Western Hemisphere (evergreen: Central and South Americas)
a closer look at some herbs and spices6
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Anise
    • Flavoring for licorice candy (only 2% is natural licorice)
    • Used in baking (unlike star anise)
a closer look at some herbs and spices7
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Basil
    • Eight types of basil: sweet, bush, purple (purple ruffle and dark opal), Thai, holy, cinnamon, camphor
a closer look at some herbs and spices8
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Bay leaf
    • From laurel tree, Laurus nobilis
    • Famous herb in ancient Greece and Rome, associated with heroic deeds and poetry
    • Today Laurus in words like baccalaureate, poet laureate, Nobel laureate
a closer look at some herbs and spices9
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Cardamom
      • Third most expensive spice
      • One of the oldest known
      • Word comes Arabic “to warm”, distinct warming quality
      • 80% consumed in Arab countries (cardamom coffee, Gahwa)
      • 10% consumed by Nordic countries (pastries)
a closer look at some herbs and spices10
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Cilantro and Coriander
    • Cilantro (herb) and coriander (spice) both come from the same plant, Coriandrum sativum.
    • Cilantro
    • Coriander
a closer look at some herbs and spices11
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Cinnamon
    • Inner bark of Sri Lankan tropical evergreen Cinnamomum zeylanicum
    • In ancient times, more precious than gold
    • In North America, cinnamon is confused with and replaced by the stronger flavored cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
    • Antibacterial agent
a closer look at some herbs and spices12
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Clove
    • Immature unopened buds of a tropical tree native to the North Moluccas, the Spice Islands of Indonesia
    • Very potent! Use sparingly!
    • Component of several spice mixtures, including ras el hanout and curry powders
    • Antibacterial agent (more potent than cinnamon)
a closer look at some herbs and spices13
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Cumin
    • Used in spicy foods
    • Ingredient in most curry powders
    • Essential in spicy Mexican foods (chili con carne, enchiladas with chili sauce)
    • Flavors couscous, the national dish of Morocco
a closer look at some herbs and spices14
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Fennel
    • Both herb (leaves) and spice (seeds)
    • Tastes like mild anise (licorice flavor)
    • Stalks and root eaten as a vegetable
    • Ingredient in Chinese five spice powder and some curries
a closer look at some herbs and spices15
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Ginger
    • Native to India and China
    • Important in Chinese medicine
    • From Sanskrit stringa-vera: “with a body like a horn”
    • Common in medieval Europe, set with salt and pepper
    • Sprinkled in beer: origin of ginger ale and ginger beer
a closer look at some herbs and spices16
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Kaffir lime
    • Distinctive lemon-lime aroma essential in Thai cooking
a closer look at some herbs and spices17
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Lavender
  • Strong perfumery odor. Dried can be overpowering in food (use a little)!
  • Used in pastries, custards, and hearty meat dishes
  • Desserts decorated with sugared lavender flowers
  • Component of Herbes de Provence and ras el hanout
a closer look at some herbs and spices18
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Lemon grass
  • Featured in Indonesian, Maylasian, Sri Lankan, and Thai dishes
  • Combines well with coconut milk
a closer look at some herbs and spices19
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Mace and Nutmeg
    • Mace
      • The aril (bright, red, lacy covering) of the nutmeg seed shell
      • Sweet and fragrant, similar aroma to nutmeg, but stronger
      • Replacement for nutmeg where lighter color is desirable
a closer look at some herbs and spices20
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Mace and Nutmeg
    • Nutmeg
      • Nutmeg seed kernel
      • Not a nut, does not affect those with nut allergies
      • Sweet, aromatic, and nutty
a closer look at some herbs and spices21
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Rosemary
    • Historically a symbol of love, friendship, and remembrance
    • Potent flavor with complex mixture of pine, mint, and ginger
    • Complements chives, thyme, chervil, parsley, bay
    • Useful in both meat and vegetable recipes
a closer look at some herbs and spices22
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Saffron
    • Most expensive spice
    • 225,000 flowers (crocuses) = 75,000 hand-picked stigmas (threads) = 1 lb
    • Ingredient in Spanish paella and risotto Milanese
    • Honey aroma, bitter honey flavor
a closer look at some herbs and spices23
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Sage
    • Originally a tea
    • Grows wild in Dalmatia, Yugoslavia
    • Useful in moderation with fatty meats and poultry (duck) and carbohydrate-rich foods (vegetable soups, stuffing, scones)
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A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Savory
    • Dominated European cooking for 2000 years
    • Word itself denotes tasty, flavorful
    • Component of the herb mixture fines herbes
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A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Star anise
    • Fruit of an oriental tree, dried and ground
    • Powerful, liquorice aroma, harsher than anise
    • Component of Chinese Five Spice powder
    • Often simmered with soy sauce
    • Used in China for both sweet and savory foods (not in the West, sweet = anise)
a closer look at some herbs and spices26
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Tamarind
    • Sticky pulp of seed from bean pods of tamarind tree
    • Buy as pressed, brown, fibrous slabs
    • Sweet, sour, fruity aroma and taste
a closer look at some herbs and spices27
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Tarragon
    • Subtle aromatic flavor
    • Component of fines herbes
    • Particularly useful in French sauces
    • Complements fish and shellfish
a closer look at some herbs and spices28
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Thyme
    • Found in almost all savory dishes in the West and Middle East
    • Provides depth
a closer look at some herbs and spices29
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Turmeric
    • 4000 yr old spice and dye
    • Principal ingredient in Indian curry
    • Curcumin in turmeric is an anticancer agent, antioxidant, antriinflammatory agent, antibacterial agent, and Alzheimer’s disease suppressant and reversal agent
a closer look at some herbs and spices30
A Closer Look at Some Herbs and Spices
  • Vanilla
    • Second most expensive spice
    • Native to Mexico
    • Naturally pollinated by Mexican bees and hummingbirds, otherwise by hand
    • Need a complicated curing and drying process
chemical composition of flavor
Chemical Composition of Flavor
  • Terpenes (fresh, pine, citrus, woody, warm “sweet”)
    • All derived from two or more fused units of isoprene (5 carbon compound):
    • Examples:
chemical composition of flavor32
Chemical Composition of Flavor
  • Phenolics (distinctive, penetrating, pungent)
    • All derived from benzene ring (6-sided ring with alternating double bonds) and at least one additional oxygen atom.
    • Examples:
chemical composition of flavor33
Chemical Composition of Flavor
  • Pungent compounds: pain as pleasure
    • Fresh ginger has gingerol.
    • Piperine from black pepper is slightly more pungent than fresh ginger.
    • Sanshools originates from Sichuan pepper.
    • Thiocyanates from horseradish, mustard seed, wasabi.
    • Capsaicins from chilis , about 100-300 times more pungent than black pepper
      • Feel hotter, inducing sweating, and increased blood flow in the skin
      • Irritating to nasal passages and lungs
chemical composition of flavor34
Chemical Composition of Flavor
  • Ginger’s pungency transformation:
chemical composition of flavor35
Chemical Composition of Flavor
  • Structures of other pungent compounds:
using herbs and spices in cooking
Using Herbs and Spices in Cooking
  • Herbs have more volatile flavor compounds easily removed by drying and roasting
  • Spices have less volatile flavor compounds that are released by cooking in oil
  • Maturation of spices changes their flavor
  • Both herbs and spices are best used as fresh as possible to avoid loss of flavor
tea and coffee
Tea and Coffee
  • Tea (herb)
  • Coffee (spice)
  • Both contain caffeine (a stimulant)
  • Tea contains another stimulant, theophylline
  • Decaffeinated tea and coffee best produced by Swiss water process or using supercritical CO2.
  • Polyphenols in black tea are powerful antioxidants; larger = darker = less bitter = less astringent