What do spices mean?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What do spices mean?”. We will also discuss how spices are classified and how they differ from condiments and herbs. Moreover, we will also talk about which spices are known as the king and queen of spices.

What do spices mean?

In simple words, spices are any dried plant parts other than the leaves used to season and flavor a recipe but not as the main ingredient. The leaves have separate uses and are commonly known as herbs. It has to be noted that all spices are used in dried forms.

The dried root, dried stalk, seed, or dried fruit of the plant is used as spices in either ground forms or whole form. Either way, all spices are extremely aromatic and add different flavors to your dish. Some examples of plant parts used as spices are:

  • Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree.
  • Cardamom is a seed pod.
  • Allspice is a dried berry.
  • Cloves are dried flower buds.

How can spices be classified?

Spices can be classified based on which parts of the plant are used as a spice. They are :

  • Rhizomes or root spices: Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic.
  • Seed spices: Nutmeg, Coriander, Fennel, Cumin, Mustard, Caraway, Fenugreek, Dill, Angelica, Aniseed, Celery, Annatto, Bishop-weed, etc.
  • Bark spices: Cinnamon.
  • Fruit or berry spices: Cardamom, Peppercorns, Vanilla, Allspice, Cassia, Tamarind, etc.
  • Leaf spices: Bay leaf, Curry leaf, etc.
  • Flower spices: Clove, Saffron, Asafoetida, etc.

Are spices and condiments the same?

No, spices and condiments are not the same. A condiment is something that is added to food that is already cooked to enhance its flavor while spices are used to flavor and season foods. 

Though they both are used to enhance the flavors, the primary function of spices is to add flavors and not just enhance them.

The term condiment has several meanings and perceptions. While a condiment is generally known as a material that is added to food after it has been prepared and served, originally it was used to refer to pickled or preserved food. Honey, sugar, salt, sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, etc are some of the condiments.

Are spice and herbs the same?

No, spices and herbs are not the same. Just because they both are aromatic ingredients, many people have a misconception regarding herbs and spices. 

Both herbs and spices come from the plants, but the fresh parts of the plants like leaves and tender stems are considered herbs while the dried root, dried stalk, seed, or dried fruit of the plant is called spice. The spices are almost always dried, unlike the herbs that are used in fresh forms.

Let us take the example of cinnamon and oregano as spices and herbs respectively. Cinnamon comes from the bark of cinnamon trees, they can be dried and grounded or used in their whole form as a spice. On the other hand, oregano herbs are derived from the herbaceous oregano plants, particularly the leaves.

Which spice is called the king of spices?

Black pepper is known as the king of spices mainly because of its strong flavors and aroma. Its numerous uses in the culinary and medicinal world have also helped it get that title. 

Its distinct flavors pair well with most of the savory dishes as well as some sweet dishes. Adding black pepper to your recipes adds layers of flavors as well as some spiciness. 

Black pepper has hot, pungent, earthy, and woody flavors with some bitter undertones. 

It has to be noted that whole or crushed black peppercorns are a lot more intense and flavorful than ground black pepper. They contain a chemical compound called piperine, which makes the flavors of black peppercorn a lot stronger than its other varieties.

Which spice is called the queen of spices?

Cardamom spice is called the queen of spices due to its rich and delicate flavors, aromas, and its extensive use in the medicinal world. Cardamom is popularly used as an aromatic spice in different cuisines, beverages, and bakery items. It is a perfect spice for both sweet as well as savory dishes. 

The flavors of cardamom are quite intense, the words sweet, pungent, lemony, minty, peppery, and floral can be used to describe its taste and aroma. It’s citrusy, minty, spicy, and herbal all at the same time, with a strong aroma as well. Know more about the queen of spices here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “What do spices mean?”. We have also discussed how spices are classified and how they differ from condiments and herbs. Moreover, we have also talked about which spices are known as the king and queen of spices.

Citations

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-spices-995747

https://www.almanac.com/what-difference-between-spices-and-herbs

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