Herbs and Spices

No matter where in the world you may be, and whether you are eating a meal or enjoying a cocktail, thereís a really good chance that it has been flavored with herbs and spices.

Herbs and spices arenít just used as flavors, they can also be found in medicines, cosmetics, and as preservatives.

Throughout human history, herbs and spices have played quite a prominent role. In fact, although they are quite common today, many years ago, spices and herbs were thought to be luxury items that only the wealthy could afford. And, in medieval times, nations frequently traded the flavorful, aromatic plants.

While you may think that herbs and spices are the same, they are actually different. Herbs and spices are, in fact, quite similar in some respects. However, the main thing that differentiates the two is from where on the plant the herb or spice is obtained.

An herb is usually comes from a plantís leafy part. Herbs are usually found in dried form, although it is also common for an herb to be fresh. Common herbs are basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves, just to name a few.

Spices are acquired from bark, roots, fruits, seeds, or even other vegetative substances. When buying spices, they can be found pre-ground dried, whole dried, or fresh. Your best bet is to buy whole dried, since its shelf life is the longest, larger amounts can be stored, and it gets you more bang for your buck. If you are looking for the most flavorful spice, fresh spices like ginger are the way to go, although they are a bit pricey.

Various herbs can be found throughout the world. However, spices are usually found in tropical countries such as in the Far East.

Another fact that separates the two is that the uses for herbs are more abundant than that for spices. An example is for medicinal purposes. While both are used in medicines, youíll see herbs used much more often than spices.

You may only use your spice rack for flavoring your favorite dishes. However, if you really want to be versatile and give your herbs and spices a new use, try them in a drink recipe or two.

Spearmint is the main ingredient in the popular mojito. Mix it up a bit and use the herb in a Cosmopolitan to give it a new kick.

Give a classic Bellini a new twist by adding a bit of thyme or tarragon. Both work well with peach and will give the drink a new flavor youíve never had before.

If you love the taste of mint, use it to create a classic mint julep. You donít even have to wait for the Kentucky Derby to have one!

Pepper doesnít just flavor food, it also helps to make one tasty Bloody Mary.

Cinnamon is a perfectly flavorful embellishment on a warm or whipped cream topped drink.

Eggnog just wouldnít be eggnog without the addition of nutmeg.