Difference between spice and herb? • No clear distinction • Herbs usually leaves (sometimes seeds), usually from temperate-origin plants • Spices usually flowers, fruits, or bark of tropical-origin plants
Herbs • Usually aromatic leaves • Used in cooking • Also, in shampoos, cosmetics, soaps, medicines, aromatherapy (e.g., Vicks vaporub, with camphor, menthol, & eucalyptus oils) • See Table 17a
Spices & herbs • Scents & flavors usually due to unique “essential oils”; i.e., to secondary compounds, especially isoprenoids (terpenes). • Natural plant function in pollinator & fruit/seed-disperser attraction. • And/or plant protection from herbivores, & pathogens (mostly fungi, bacteria). • Most of these secondary compounds have anti-microbial activities.
“spice” • Derives from the Latin word species, meaning specific kind, and later, goods or merchandise. Plants that Changed History, Joan Elma Rhan, 1982
First use of spices & herbs • Origins pre-date ancient Greeks & Romans, etc. • Today we use spices & herbs primarily to make good food taste even better. • In the days before refrigeration, spices were used to hide the taste and odor of less-than-fresh food, and to prolong the freshness of food (especially in warm climates). • Today, some perfumes, soaps, and lotions are lightly scented with spices & herbs. • In the days before people took frequent baths, spices/herbs were used as deodorants. Those who could afford to do so had spices/herbs sown or tucked into their clothes to hide their body odors. Plants that Changed History, Joan Elma Rhan, 1982
Early Spices • Orient/Old World • cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, black pepper, ginger, cloves, cardamom, anise, caraway, mustard, saffron • New World • allspice, chilies & paprika, vanilla
Ancient History • Egypt • Greeks • Romans • Arabs & Middle East • After fall of Rome and during the Dark Ages (ca. 600-1000 AD) • Lost access to spices from the Orient Trade between the empires of Asia and Rome
Why were spices popular for trading? • it was very lucrative • transported easily • improved food & health • many diverse uses for most spices • very popular with the upper classes • spicy food considered classy, sign of wealth
Spice Trade, post-dark ages • Crusades in 1096: Europeans are out fighting in the Middle East and taste exotic spices and want to bring them back. • 1180’s: Pepperer’s guild, predecessor to herbalist and physicians. • Middle Ages: spices valuable trade item used to pay bills, taxes. • 1300: Polo brothers travel to China and bring back tales of spices. • By 1300’s: spice trade was a legitimate profession.
Papal Race for Spice Islands • During the late 15th century, the popes favorites • Spain and Portugal • After that, Pope issued a decree to divide the world between Spain and Portugal from Pole to Pole • Portugal got the EAST, Spain got the WEST
Age of Exploration • onset of an “age of exploration” that lasted almost 500 years • Columbus discovered America in 1492 • didn’t know the size of the Earth or about the Pacific Ocean • Charles V and King of Spain sent Magellan on an expedition to reach the Spice Islands • westward route through the South Seas and Spice Islands
Were Columbus and Magellan voyages “failures” ? • Neither won for Spain the easy access to spices that she wanted. • Columbus never found the spices or the lands he sought. • Magellan’s expedition reached the Spice Islands, but the route across the Pacific Ocean was much too long and much too dangerous to be practical then. Plants that Changed History, Joan Elma Rhan, 1982
What spice trade accomplished • New lands were discovered, and the question of whether the world was spherical or flat was finally decided. • New plants and animals were discovered; some of them were transported to continents where they had never been before, but where the climate was suitable. • People’s diets became more varied and better balanced. Europeans, whose homelands were beginning to be overpopulated, colonized the newly discovered lands, some of which had plenty of space. • Generally, this worked out well for the Europeans, but rather badly for the natives of the colonized countries. • For better or worse, the search for species brought together the civilizations that had developed separately in the ancient worlds. They would never be isolated again. Plants that Changed History, Joan Elma Rhan, 1982
Imperialism • Portugal, via colonies and outposts, dominated spice trading for ca. 100 years (16th century). • Thereafter, the Dutch, especially, and British took control of spice trading. • Dutch took over the Indonesia & Ceylon • Dutch East India company • England took over India, Singapore, Hong Kong • British East India company
Spices & Herbs A quick survey of representatives
Piper nigrum(black & white pepper) • Climbing vine native to India and East Indies; in Piperaceae (pepper) family • Berries picked green, darken & shrivel upon drying. • Biting flavor due to volatile oils, flavor dissipates after grinding. • White pepper – berries ripen on vine, outer hull removed. • The most widely used spice today.
Cinnamomum zeylanicum(cinnamon) • Parts used- oil & bark • Evergreen tree native to India & Sri Lanka; in Laurel family • Properties- Astringent, stimulant, anti-infective, anti-fungal, digestive aid • One of the oldest and most valuable spices • Related spice, called cassia, from C. cassia.
Eugenia caryophyllata(clove) • Parts Used: closed flower buds • Active Compounds: Clove oil is 60 to 90 percent eugenol, which is the source of its anesthetic and antiseptic properties. • An evergreen tree, 15 to 30 feet tall; in Myrtaceae (Myrtle) family • Native to the Spice Islands and the Philippines, but also grown in India, Sumatra, Jamaica, the West Indies, Brazil, and other tropical areas.
Myristica fragans(nutmeg & mace) • Part used- dried kernel of the seed. • Tree is about 25 feet high, has a greyish-brown smooth bark, abounding in a yellow juice. • Native to Spice Islands; Myristicaceae (nutmeg) family • Fruit is source of 2 spices, nutmeg & mace. • Mace is derived from the net-like aril that is wrapped around the pit. • Within the pit is a single seed, the source of nutmeg.
Zingiber officinale (ginger) • Member of “ginger” family • Perennial native to tropical Asia • Plant part used = Rhizome • name from Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”, as in antlers. • In English pubs and taverns in the nineteenth century, bar-keepers put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer — the origin of ginger ale.
Curcuma longa (turmeric) • Member of “ginger” family • Perennial native to tropical Asia • Part used: rhizome • Culinary uses (e.g., Middle East & India) • Dyes uses too (yellow)
Crocus sativus(saffron) • Member of “Iris” family • From ‘zafaran’ in Arabic • From 3-parted Stigma of flower • Dried by slow roasting • Imparts delicate & distinct taste & color • Used in French, Spanish, Middle Eastern & Indian cooking • Each saffron crocus flower has 3 stigmas • Ca. 80,000 flowers (240,000) stigmas to make a pound of saffron • 12 days to pick • cost is > $250 per ounce • (so most costly spice) • 1444: any merchant caught selling adulterated saffron in Bavaria was burned alive
Capsicum species(hot & sweet peppers) • Members of tomato family (Solonaceae) • Many are cultivars of Capsicum annum • E.g., bell pepper & cayenne • Four other common species • E.g., C. clilense includes habenero and C. fructescens includes tabasco pepper • Many varieties • Origin = New World; used by 9000 y. ago • “Hot” due to seven related alkaloids, including capsaicin (mostly in seeds & fruit)
16,000,000: Pure capsaicin 100,000-350,000: Habanero 30,000-50,000: Cayenne pepper 5,000-23,000: Serrano pepper 2,500-5,000: Tabasco sauce /Jalapeno 1,000-2,000: Poblano pepper 100-500 Pepperoncini pepper Ca. 0: Sweet Bell pepper Scoville ratings(for pepper “hotness”)
Vanilla planifolia (vanilla) • flavoring comes from the seed pod, or the ‘bean’ of the vanilla plant • member of orchid family (Orchidaceae); perennial vine • behind saffron and cardamom, vanilla is 3rd most expensive spice • non-culinary uses, including aromatizing perfumes, cigars, & liqueurs • Europeans prefer the bean, while N. Americans the extract • extract made by percolating alcohol & water through chopped cured beans
Bee balmMonarda fistulosa • Kick a cold • Breathe easy • Help control oily skin • Cook with a taste of native America
BorageBorago officinalis • The hero’s herb • Help heal the heart • Squelch stubborn skin inflammations • eczema • Create stellar salads
CatnipNepeta cataria • Calm after a storm • Take the sting out of stress • Make a cat happy • Enjoy a roman salad
ChamomileMatricaria sp. • Better than counting sheep • Beat anxiety and insomnia • Relieve indigestion • Soothe irritated skin
Alliums (Lily family)(onion group) • Onion- A. cepa • Garlic- A. sativum • Leeks- A. porrum • Shallots- A. ascalonicum • Chives- A. schoenprasum • Most rich in volatile sulfur-containing compounds • Culinary & medicinal uses • Among oldest cultivated plants
Onions • Originated in Asia • Ancient Egyptians worshipped the onion, believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternity. Of all the vegetables that had their images created from precious metals by Egyptian artists, only the onion was made out of gold. • Ranks sixth among the world's leading vegetable crops. • You can get rid of onion breath by eating parsley. • Yellow onions make up more than 75% of the worlds production of onions. • The official state vegetable of Georgia is the Vidalia onion. • The official state vegetable of Texas is the Texas Sweet onion. • According to the National Onion Association, onion consumption in the U.S. has increased approximately 50% over the past 20 years.
Chives • Onion benefits without tears • Help lower blood cholesterol levels • Help reduce blood pressure • Help prevent certain types of cancer
Garlic • Culinary, medicinal, and religious use dates back more than 6000 years. • Chicago got it's name from the American Indian word for the wild garlic that grew around Lake Michigan - "chicagaoua". • California produces more than 250 million pounds of garlic each year. One farm in Monterey County (near Gilroy, "The Garlic Capital of the World") plants 2000 acres of garlic and produces almost 25 million pounds annually. • There is an all-garlic restaurant in Stockholm where they offer a garlic cheesecake. • There is an all-garlic restaurant in San Francisco where they offer a garlic ice cream. The name of the place is a nickname for garlic...The Stinking Rose!
‘raw’ garlic • Prevent & cure infection • 1 clove contains substances equivalent to 100,000 units of penicillin (1/5 avg dose) • Help prevent cancer & heart disease • Make lean foods taste robust • Eat sprig of fresh tarragon for temporary relief of garlic breath or ‘odorless garlic’ in capsules
“purple cone flower”Echinacea purpurea • Fight off colds and flu • Heal minor cuts & scratches • Give your immune system a shot in the arm • Compound echinsin, shown to be antiviral that behaves similarly to interferon • Echinacoside has antibiotic properties
Evening primroseOenothera biensis • Petals open at night • Soothes PMS and menopause symptoms • Help prevent high blood pressure • Smooth & soften dry skin • Active compound: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
FeverfewChrysanthemum parthenium • Sooth a migraine • Repel insects in the garden • pyrethrin • Keep bees at bay
English lavender(L. officinalis or L. vera) • Create an herbal antiseptic • Relax and rejuvenate mind and body • Help normalize oily skin
Mustard (Brassicaceae) • White & yellow, Brassica alba; black (brown), Brassica nigra. • Volatile oil derived from sinigrin/sinalbin & enzyme, myrosin. • Mustard plants produce about 1,000 pounds of seeds per acre. • In one year at New York's Yankee Stadium, more than 1,600 gallons plus 2,000,000 individual packets of mustard are consumed. • Most of the mustard seeds used in Dijon, France are actually grown in the United States and Canada. Canada produces about 90 percent of the world's supply of mustard seeds. • Over 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed worldwide each year. • The Mustard Museum is in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. • world's largest collection of mustards, with over 3,500 varieties.
Horseradish(Amoracia rusticana; Brassica Family) • prized for its medicinal and gastronomic qualities for centuries. • Same volatile oil as mustard Did you know that . . . • Horseradish is still planted and harvested mostly by hand? • Sales of bottled horseradish began in 1860, making it one of the first convenience foods? • In the American South, horseradish was rubbed on the forehead to relieve headaches? (Some folks still swear by it.) • Horseradish is added to some pickles to add firmness and "nip"? • Before being named "horseradish," the plant was known as "redcole" in England and as "stingnose" in some parts of the U.S.? • Horseradish has only 2 calories a teaspoon, is low in sodium and provides dietary fiber? • Researchers at M.I.T. claim that the enzyme "horseradish peroxidase" removes a number of pollutants from waste water? • Germans still brew horseradish schnapps . . . . some also add it to their beer?
ParsleyPetroselinum crispum • Related to wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) (in the Umbel family, along with carrots, celery, dill, parsnips, fennel, caraway, anise, coriander, cumin, poison hemlock) • Has low levels of same toxin as the wild species • Many of these look gorgeous in the garden.
St John’s wortHypericum perforatum • Relieve aches & pains • arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica • Find herbal help for depression • Have soft silky hair • Red color of oil from hypericin
SpeedwellVeronica arvenis • Calm a cough • Leptandrine, acts as expectorant • Mix with Chinese licorice root to balance bitter flavor • Soften tough calluses
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus • Give high blood pressure the boot • Discover possible link in cancer prevention • Compound = rutin
YarrowAchillea millefollium • Famous fever fighter • Help heal cuts & scratches • Smooth stressed skin • Stimulate the compost heap
Mint Family (Lamiaceae) • Native to Mediterranean region • Includes thyme, sages, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, hyssops, basil, the various mints, catnip, and horehound. • Common garden mint is spearmint, not peppermint . • Square stems & aromatic simple leaves with oil glands.
PeppermintMentha piperita • Soothe your stomach • Refresh itchy skin • Cool spicy foods • Active ingredient: menthol