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Spice Book

Here you will find information and descriptions on a large number of herbs and spices. You may even find some photos and recipes along the way. Click on the letter of the seasoning in which you are interested and enjoy your tour of the Spice Book.




Much of the information in the SpiceRack section of our website has come from material provided by Penzeys Spices as well as a number of other resources around the Internet.

Photos throughout these pages come from a variety of sources around the Internet. Many came from an excellent spice site, "Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages," while others came from Penzeys catalogues.

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Penzeys Spices


C -- Cake Spice through Chinese Five Spice Powder

Cake Spice: Sweet and spicy. For toffee cake, use 1 teaspoon, per cup batter. For delicious spiced sugar, mix 2 tablespoon in 1 cup sugar. Sprinkle on French toast or oatmeal. Cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves.

California Style Seasoned Pepper: California Seasoned Pepper has a robust flavor that seasons fully without salt. It is perfect for grilled or broiled steak or chicken, use 1 teaspoon per pound. Add a bit to gravy, stew, or a roast to combat blandness. Tellicherry black pepper, red and green bell pepper, onion and garlic.

Cajun Seasoning: For Louisiana-style chicken, fish and seafood. Paprika, salt, celery, sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, oregano, red pepper, caraway, dill, turmeric, cumin, bay, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme.

Cajun Seasoning (Very Hot): Sweet paprika, coarse salt, cayenne red pepper, jalapeno pepper, celery, sugar, garlic, Tellicherry black pepper, onion, oregano, caraway seed, dill seed, turmeric, cumin, bay leaves, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme.

Capers (Capparis spinosa): Capers are the pickled, unopened flower buds of the caper plant. The plants are small shrubs, native to the Mediterranean area. The buds are hand picked every day, with the smaller buds being the higher quality. This is used mainly in salad dressings and fish sauces.

Caraway Seed (Carum carvi): Small brown, crescent-shaped seeds with a strong liquorice flavor and especially delicious as a flavoring in braised cabbage and sauerkraut recipes, breads (particularly rye), cakes and cheeses. The early Greeks knew caraway could calm an upset stomach and used it to season foods that were hard to digest. Today unsuspecting cooks continue the tradition, adding caraway to rye bread, cabbage dishes (sauerkraut and coleslaw), pork, cheese sauces, cream soups, goose and duck. The Germans make a caraway liqueur called Kummel and serve it with heavy meals.


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Chives through Curry

Cardamom:  Large Black and Whole Seeds

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Cardamom is a triangular-shaped pod which has an outer shell with little flavor and tiny inner seeds with intense flavor. Photos to the left and right. You can buy green or black cardamoms although the smaller green type is more widely available. An extremely flavorful and ancient spice native to India, cardamom's use has spread throughout the world, with nearly every culture having its own distinctive use for the flavorful seeds. In India, where both green and black cardamom are used, it is an important ingredient in meat and vegetable dishes. In parts of the Middle East the seeds are mixed with green coffee beans before brewing. In Northern Europe (especially Scandinavia) white cardamom is used to season baked goods such as Christmas stollen, cakes, cookies, muffins, and buns. Green cardamom is preferred in India and the Middle East. Fancy white and green pods have no splits or cracks in the shell, so the flavor keeps well. Stored in a glass jar, cardamom pods will stay fresh indefinitely. Shelled or decorticated cardamom seeds are inexpensive and flavorful, gut sometimes need to be crushed or ground before use. Ground cardamom has an intensely strong favor and is easy to use (especially in baking, where the fine powder is desirable). Black cardamom, long a staple in African cooking was originally used in India as a cheap substitute for green cardamom pods. Black cardamom has a unique smoky flavor and has developed its own following over the years.

Carob Powder: Carob powder is similar to cocoa powder and may be used as a direct replacement. It has less fat, no caffeine, and none of the properties that cause allergic reactions in some people. Use carob powder in any recipe that calls for unsweetened cocoa powder.

Cassia: Cassia is the bark of a laurel tree, a tropical evergreen. Nearly the same as cinnamon, it is sometimes called Chinese Cinnamon. The two spices can be used interchangeably. Cassia is a bit coarser and the taste is not quite as delicate. Cassia is grown in China, Burma, and Indonesia. Coming almost exclusively from these countries. In all appearances, cassia looks and nearly smells the same as cinnamon. Not quite as sweet as cinnamon, it is used more in savory dishes in China. Cassia is also a component in Chinese Five Spice Powder. Cassia can be used ground or whole, much the same as cinnamon. Cassia Buds are also used much the same as cinnamon, ground or whole. Use this spice in the same manner as Cinnamon. In India, it is used to season Curried dishes, grains, and lentils.

Cardamom:  White, Ground, and Green

Cayenne Red Pepper Powder: Orangey-red in color, this ground pepper is extremely hot and pungent. Not to be confused with paprika which, although related, is mild flavored. Cayenne pepper has the power to make any dish fiery hot, but it also has a subtle flavor-enhancing quality In Early American cookbooks, a dash of cayenne was often added to a dish, not so much for heat, but rather to improve the overall flavor. A dash of cayenne pepper boosts the flavor of low-salt or low-fat dishes and can be used in place of whole chili peppers in barbecue sauce, chili and other hot dishes. For a zesty change, use Cayenne Red Pepper to replace paprika on sliders (deviled eggs) or potato salad. There is some evidence that eating hot pepper increases metabolism, reducing the calories retained from a meal by about 10%. There is also evidence that eating hot pepper increases the appetite (probably by about 10%). From California. Keep in a cool, dry place, out of the light. 40,000 Scoville Heat Units.

Celery Flakes (Apium graveolens): Celery flakes are nice to have on hand when you just need a tablespoon or two or celery, or when your fresh celery seems to have wilted away just when you are ready to use it. Use 1 tablespoon to equal one small fresh stalk. Just throw into soup or stock, but for roasts or casseroles, celery flakes should be rehydrated before adding. Just cover 1 tablespoon in 3 tablespoons water, let stand 5 minutes, drain off any extra liquid and use.

Celery Salt: For roast beef, pot roast, steaks or meatloaf, and of course, bloody marys. You may use this spice blend wherever you would use celery seeds and want more of a salty taste. Fine grained salt and celery.

Celery Seed (Apium graveolens): Most cooks know that black pepper is the best spice for beef, but good cooks also add a touch of celery. Use 1/2 teaspoon of ground celery per pound of meat for beef or pork roast. Add 1/4 teaspoon per pound to meatloaf. For beef stew, try 1/2 teaspoon per 2 quarts, Ground celery seed is great for perking up low-fat and reduced sodium diets. Add just a pinch to soups, stews, sauces and casseroles.

Charnushka (Nigella Sativa): Black, smoky seeds found on Jewish rye bread in New York and in garam masala. Also known as black caraway or kalonji. From India.

Click here to see an article on the Scoville Heat  Units measurement of peppers.


Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium [L.] Hoffm.): This sweet herb has a very delicate flavor and is often used in cold dishes, because heat quickly consumes its flavor. Photo to the left. Try in marinated vegetables, on potato/egg salad, or mix with butter and lemon and melt over broiled fish. Traditionally used as a ‘pluche’ on soup; sprinkle a drop on each bowl at the last minute before serving. Fresh chervil belongs in the refrigerator, wrapped in paper towels and covered in a plastic bag.

Chesapeake Bay Seasoning: Traditional East Coast seafood and meat seasoning. Rub on soft-shelled crabs 1 - 2 teaspoon per pound. Paprika, salt, mustard, celery, ancho, black & red pepper, dill, caraway, allspice, horseradish, cardamom, thyme, ginger, bay, mace, cinnamon, savory and cloves.

Chicago Steak Seasoning: Steak Seasoning gives great grilled flavor to steaks, burgers, ribs, chicken and turkey. Great for broiling, and also nice to give extra flavor to grilled food. Shake on heavily, 1 - 2 teaspoon per pound. For great BBQ sauce, mix 1 tablespoon in 1 cup tomato sauce. Salt, hickory smoke, Tellicherry black pepper, sugar, onion, garlic, lemon zest and citric acid.

Chicory: Chicory is the dried root of the chicory plant, roasted and ground often to be used to flavor coffee. The leaves, crisp and edible, are often used in salads.

Chili Con Carne Seasoning: Spicy flavor, but no heat. A great way to give chili flavor to other dishes. Sprinkle on chicken, fish, or chops; 1 - 2 teaspoons per pound, add salt to taste. Ancho chili pepper, tomato powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic, coriander, minced onions, red and green bell pepper, Tellicherry black pepper, allspice, cilantro and cloves.

Chili Oil: Made by infusing hot red chilies in vegetable or sesame oil. The result is a red, fragrant and fiery oil. You can find chili oil in Asian and ethnic markets, as well as larger grocery stores.

Chili Paste with Garlic: A seasoning of Asian origin. It is made by combining red chilies and fresh garlic. It can be used as a condiment wherever a spicy, garlicky taste is desired — but if you're a first-timer user a light touch! You'll find chili paste in Asian markets and larger grocery stores.

Chili Sauce: A blend of hot and mild chilies, vinegar, sugar, and other flavorings sold in bottles. You may use it as an ingredient or a condiment on already prepared dishes. Some varieties are tomato-based, some are hotter than others.

Chili Powder, Regular: Rich flavor, deep color, very little heat. This blend is the traditional backbone of many Mexican dishes, from burritos to tamales. Great for family-style chili, use 1-3 tablespoon per quart. Serve with a shaker jar of crushed hot peppers on the side for those who like heat. Ancho chili pepper, cumin, garlic, Mexican oregano.

Chili Powder, Medium Hot: Our most popular chili powder; rich flavor with a pleasing bite that’s not too hot. Use 2 tablespoon per quart for great chili. Mix chili powder with equal parts water and lime juice, rub on poultry or fish for grilling. Ancho chili pepper, red pepper, cumin, garlic, Mexican oregano.

Chinese Five Spice Powder: As America redefines its diet, increasing consumption of vegetables and starches, and cutting fats and meat portions, it makes sense to borrow from those who have cooked this way throughout history. Chinese stir-fry is quick, easy and very versatile, combining well with all meats and vegetables. China cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves.

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