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Spices and Herbs 

An illustrated reference of culinary spices and herbs added to food to enhance its flavour. They take the form both of things cooked with food, and those added to food once cooking is completed.

Chefs know that using spices and fresh herbs can add that extra zest and sparkling flavour to mundane recipes. This section isn't meant to be an exhaustive treatise on the use of spices and herbs, rather, we want to provide the knowledge on some of the more popular spices and herbs that many cooks may find helpful. This knowledge will give you a quick start to using spices and fresh herbs in your own culinary creations.

A spice is defined as any part of a plant other than the leaf, and may be the buds, bark, roots, rhizome, berries, seeds or stigma. Most spices are dried, many only acquiring their distinctive flavours by the enzymatic reactions triggered in the curing process. Their flavour is often heightened by dry-roasting.


A herb is defined as a plant whose green parts, usually the leaves, but sometimes the stalks, are used. For eons, herbs have been used for medicinal, cosmetic and culinary purposes; here only the last-named is considered. Herbs are used fresh or dried. When dried, the water is removed, leaving the essential oils which give the herb its flavour, effectively concentrating the flavour of the herb. Generally about one-third the amount of a dried herb equates to its being used fresh. However, fresh and dried herbs are not always interchangeable; most dried herbs lose their fresh "top notes" and those with especially volatile oils lack their key flavour.

Humans have been using spices almost as long as they've been eating. Just as classic recipes evolved, so did spice blends and mixtures. By making your own mixes, you can adjust flavours to suit your personal needs. There are literally hundreds of spice mix combinations on the market. We have included a selection of the most popular blends from around the world.

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