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A helpful guide to herbs and spices and what they are most commonly used for:-

ALL SPICE  – Similar to cloves, but more pungent and deeply flavoured. Best used in spice mixes.

BAY LEAF –  Adds a woodsy background note to soups and sauces.

BASIL – Highly aromatic with a robust liquorice flavour. Excellent in pesto’s, as a finishing touch on pasta dishes, or stuffed into sandwiches

CARAWAY SEEDS – These anise-tasting seeds are essential for soda bread, sauerkraut, and potato salad.

CARDEMOM – This warm, aromatic spice is widely used in Indian cuisine. It’s also great in baked goods when used in combination with spices like clove and cinnamon.

CAYENNE PEPPER  – Made from dried and ground red chili peppers.

CHIVES – Delicate onion flavour, great as a garnish.

CINNAMON– Found in almost every world cuisine, cinnamon serves double duty as spice in both sweet and savoury dishes.

CLOVES – Sweet and warming spice. Used most often in baking, but also good with braised meat.

CORIANDER SEED – Earthy, lemony flavour. Used in a lot of Mexican and Indian dishes.

CORIANDER – From the coriander plant, cilantro leaves and stems have a pungent, herbaceous flavour. Used in Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian cooking.

CUMIN – Smoky and earthy. Used in a lot of Southwestern U.S. and Mexican cuisine, as well as North African, Middle Eastern, and Indian.

CURRY LEAVES – These pungent leaves are not related to curry powder but impart a similar flavour. Used in Indian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, Singaporean, and Pakistani cuisine. Used to flavour curries, soups, stews, and chutneys.

DILL  – Light and feathery herb with a pungent herb flavour. Use it for pickling, with fish, and over potatoes.

FENNEL SEED – Lightly sweet and liquorice flavoured. It’s excellent with meat dishes, or even chewed on its own as a breath freshener and digestion aid!

FENUGREEK – Although this herb smells like maple syrup while cooking, it has a rather bitter, burnt sugar flavour. Found in a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.

GARLIC POWDER – Garlic powder is made from dehydrated garlic cloves and can be used to give dishes a sweeter, softer garlic flavour.

GROUND GINGER – Ground ginger is made from dehydrated fresh ginger and has a spicy, zesty bite.

MARJORAM – Floral and woodsy. Try it in sauces, vinaigrettes, and marinades.

MINT – Surprisingly versatile for such an intensely flavoured herb. Try it paired with lamb, peas, potatoes, and of course, with chocolate!

NUTMEG – Sweet and pungent. Great in baked goods, but also adds a warm note to savoury dishes.

OREGANO – Robust, somewhat lemony flavour. Used in a lot of Mexican and Mediterranean dishes.

PAPRIKA – Adds a sweet note and a red colour. Used in stews and spice blends. There is also a spicy version labelled hot paprika.

PARSLEY – Available in flat-leaf (Italian) or curly varieties, this very popular herb is light and grassy in flavour.

PEPPERCORNS – Peppercorns come in a variety of colours (black, white, pink, and green being the most popular). These are pungent and pack a mild heat.

ROSEMARY – Strong and piney. Great with eggs, beans, and potatoes, as well as grilled meats.

SAFFRON – Saffron has a subtle but distinct floral flavour and aroma, and it also gives foods a bright yellow colour.

SAGE – Pine-like flavour, with more lemony and eucalyptus notes than rosemary. Found in a lot of northern Italian cooking.

SMOKED PAPRIKA – Adds sweet smokiness to dishes, as well as a red colour.

STAR ANISE – Whole star anise can be used to add a sweet liquorice flavour to sauces and soups.

SUMAC – Zingy and lemony, sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that’s great in marinades and spice rubs.

TARRAGON – Strong anise flavour. Can be eaten raw in salads or used to flavour tomato dishes, chicken, seafood, or eggs.

TURMERIC – Sometimes used more for its yellow colour than its flavour, turmeric has a mild woodsy flavour. Can be used in place of saffron in a pinch or for those of us on a budget.

THYME – Adds a pungent, woodsy flavour. Great as an all-purpose seasoning.


Spice Blends, Rubs & Mixes

BOUQUET GARNI – Thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Used to flavour broths and soups. (Classic French)

CHILLI POWDER – Ground chilis, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and lots of optional extras to make this seasoning uniquely yours. Use for chili, stew, beans, grilled meat, and tacos. (Mexican/Southwestern U.S.)

CHINESE 5 SPICE – Star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, cassia, and clove. Adds sweetness and depth to savoury dishes, especially beef, duck, and pork. (Chinese)

CURRY POWDER – Typically includes turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper, but mixes can vary. Used primarily to quickly flavour curry sauces. (Indian)

GARAM MASALA– Typically includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and pepper. Sweeter than curry powder. Also used to season curry sauces. (Indian)

HERBES DE PROVINCE– Usually savoury; contains rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and sometimes lavender. Use as a marinade or dry rub for roast chicken, fish, and vegetables. (French)

PICKLING SPICE – Most often includes bay leaf, yellow mustard seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, and coriander. Used for pickling vegetables in vinegar.


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