The fun continues with this exploration of the flavors and applications of a few of the most common spices. Check it out!
What Are Spices?
Spices are defined as "aromatic or pungent vegetable substances used to flavor food." There are a whole bunch of different spices out there, and some of the most common include black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and nutmeg. Let's get to know them a little better, shall we?
Black Pepper adds an aromatic heat to many foods. It boosts the flavor of everything from potatoes to fish to fresh-sliced tomatoes and salads. It's most pungent when freshly ground.
Cinnamon imparts a sweet taste without added sugar. There's a bit of a spicy kick to it too, though that spice level can vary among different types of cinnamon. Try it in oatmeal or sprinkled over apple slices. A whole cinnamon stick makes a wonderful addition to a mug of hot tea as well.
Cayenne pepper has a rich aroma and spicy-hot taste. The powder that we use comes from dried and ground cayenne peppers. It's especially great in rice dishes, beans, daals, etc.
Nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree. It offers a sweet, delicate flavor with just a hint of nuttiness. It can be used in both savory and sweet foods.
Cumin has an earthy flavor that can be heightened by roasting. Toast some and add it to your next batch of chili!
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.