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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 -- Chives through Curry

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are long, thin green shoots that resemble large blades of grass and have a delightful, oniony flavor. Store fresh chives in your refrigerator, wrapped in paper towels and covered with a plastic bag. Freeze-drying allows chives to maintain a very close-to-fresh flavor and texture, and bright green color. Even the very small amount of moisture on a salad will rehydrate them. Give a hint of garden herb freshness to omelets, chicken soup, baked potatoes and vegetables.


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Cake Spice through Chinese Five Spice Powder

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum): Sometimes called 'Chinese parsley.' Dried is not quite as nice as fresh, but easier to keep and has good flavor. Cilantro is the leaf of the coriander plant. Photo to the right. Cilantro is used heavily in most of the world where its unique flavor seasons salads, tacos, curries, guacamole, soups and stews. Buy cilantro fresh, and store in your refrigerator, wrapped in paper towels and covered with a plastic bag.

Cinnamon, Ceylon (Cinnamomum): Complex and fragrant, with a citrus overtone and rich buff color, Ceylon cinnamon is unfamiliar to most Americans. Although less strong than cassia, it is prized in both England and Mexico where it is preferred over cassia for all uses.

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Cinnamon, Ceylon Softstick (Cinnamomum): Ceylon cinnamon is soft and easy to crumble. Very thin pieces of bark are tightly rolled into parchment style sticks, then machine cut to uniform 5-inch lengths.

Cinnamon, China Cassia: China cinnamon is strong, and spicier than Korintje, with a potent sweet flavor which has been prized for centuries. Good strong flavor for all baking needs, great for cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle a bit into the batter for French toast, waffles or pancakes. Use to dust oatmeal or add to powdered sugar to top fresh fruit. Tunghing, ground, from China.

Cinnamon Chunks, Cassia: A blend of 1/4" to 1/2" Chinese and Korintje cassia chunks. Great for coffee, add 1 tablespoon to the filter per pot. Nice for mulled wine or cider. Scent the home by simmering a bit in water. Chunks stay fresh indefinitely.

Cinnamon, Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia: The highest quality, strongest cinnamon available in America today. Extremely sweet and flavorful. Use 2/3 what recipe calls for. Since the trade embargo with Vietnam has been Lifted, this wonderful cassia has become available.

Cinnamon, Korintje Cassia: Sweet and mellow, Korintje cinnamon is the type we all remember from our childhood. Fragrant and smooth, Korintje Cinnamon is the style closest to that sold in supermarkets, but much fresher and of the highest quality.

Cinnamon Sticks: Traditionally used as a tasty stirring stick for hot drinks. A nice addition to cocoa, coffee or special holiday concoctions. Perfect for flavoring curry, dessert sauces and syrups.

Cinnamon Sugar: Cinnamon-Sugar on the breakfast table, what could be sweeter? The perfect sprinkle for toast, coffee, hot cereal and fresh fruit. A flavorful blend of sugar, China and Ceylon Cinnamon, with a hint of vanilla. Add a bit to waffle or pancake batter, sprinkle on French toast. White sugar aged with Vanilla Bean, China Cassia Cinnamon and Ceylon Cinnamon.

Citric Acid: Also known as sour salt, citric acid is very strong. Use sparingly to avoid an overwhelming sourness. Citric acid adds a sour tang to vegetables, pickles, and some Middle Eastern cuisines.

Flowering Coriander.

Dried Cloves

Dried Cloves

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum): Cloves thrive in tropical climates. The pink flower buds are picked before opening and dried in the sun where they turn a reddish brown. These dried buds give a warm aroma and pungency to foods. In the West, cloves are mainly considered a sweet baking spice, though its preserving qualities make it popular for pickling and barbecueing. Whole cloves are a must for studding hams (especially for the holidays). The flavor is quite strong so use sparingly. Because cloves bring out the flavor of beef, add a whole clove to beef stew or a tiny pinch of ground cloves to gravy.

Cocoa: Natural cocoa is strong, dark and bittersweet -- perfect for all baking; Dutch cocoa is processed to temper the natural acidity of the cocoa bean, yielding a smooth, rich and slightly less strong cocoa that mixes more freely with liquid. Dutch cocoa has long been the cocoa of choice for hot chocolate and flavored coffee.

Comfrey: This rough perennial has leaves that grow up to 10 inches long, growing wild in ditches and near streams throughout Europe and parts of Asia. This plant has been used medicinally for hundreds of years, containing allantoin and choline that promote the production of red blood cells and encourage circulation. It was also used to repair broken bones, for poultice and healing wounds, rheumatism, arthritis, bruises and reducing swelling. It has been successful in healing malignant tumors and progressive ulceration. When brewed in herbal tea, it is an effective cough mixture for severe lung disorders such as tuberculosis and pneumonia and for hindering internal bleeding of the lungs, stomach or bowel. Comfrey leaves are bitter, but can be eaten in salads.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): Very few spices have as long a history or are used in so many foods by so many cultures as coriander. The unusual thing about coriander is that off the top of your head, it is hard to name even a single dish it is used in. The key to coriander being both famous and anonymous is that it is a great number 2 flavor. In the West, coriander is used as a background flavor to black pepper. In the Arabian influenced world, coriander plays sidekick to its old friend cumin. From Moroccan tanjines to Indian curries, the slow simmering of the sauces brings out the best in the coriander. In the East it is ginger that fronts coriander’s subtle harmonies. In Indonesia dishes like Ayam Goreng fried chicken) or sate make the flavor of coriander sing -- not through long, slow cooking, but through a short flash of very intense heat. Most any dish that has ginger, cumin or black pepper tastes even better with a pinch of coriander. If it cooks for over an hour or is grilled over high heat, coriander will make it taste great. No one will be able to say why it tastes better, they will just agree it does. Available in seed and ground form. These tiny, pale brown seeds have a mild, spicy flavor with a slight orange peel fragrance. An essential spice in curry dishes, but also extremely good in many cake and cookie recipes. See cilantro above.

Corned Beef Spices: To marinate beef brisket use 3 - 5 tablespoon per 5 pound, along with salt brine. Brown and yellow mustard, coriander, allspice, cassia, dill seed, bay leaves, cloves, ginger, black pepper, star anise, juniper, mace, cardamom, red pepper.

Cream of Tartar: Cream of Tartar is the powdery white residue left on the sides of wine aging barrels. Cream of Tartar is used as a stabilizer for egg whites and delicate toppings like meringue, also used in many cookie and cake recipes. It is also used to reduce discoloration in boiled vegetables, just add half a teaspoon to the water.

Cubeb: Cubeb is a perennial, related to that of peppercorn, of which the fruits are gathered and sun dried. The Indonesian Islands produce the world supply of Cubeb. It grows wild all over the islands. Sometimes Cubeb is cultivated side by side with coffee in Java. The flavor and aroma of Cubeb is very similar to pepper but more like Pepper and Allspice combined. Use cubeb ground in the same manner as ground peppercorn. You may find it can almost replace peppercorns. Mix cubeb into Jerk Spices.

Cocoa can easily replace unsweetened baking chocolate. The standard conversion is to use 3 tablespoons and cocoa 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to equal one square of baking chocolate.

Cumin Fruit (Often Called Seeds)

Cumin fruits
(often called cumin seeds)

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum): Throughout the world, cumin is second in popularity only to black pepper. Photo to the left. Americans tend to use it mostly for chili, but its warm, pungent flavor is a must in Indian, Mexican, Asian, Northern African, Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking. It is gaining popularity here in America as various international dishes become more commonplace in our kitchens, and our tastes for Mexican foods increase, as both salsa and tacos are heavily seasoned with cumin. Popular in Germany for flavoring sauerkraut and pork dishes. Use ground or whole in meat dishes and stuffed vegetables. The high-oil Iranian cumin is still not available due to the U.S. Government’s ban on trade with Iran.

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Curry Powder, Hot: Same great flavor as the sweet, but with more hot red pepper and ginger. This is the type commonly used by Chinese restaurants for their spicy version of curry. Turmeric, cayenne red pepper, coriander, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, white pepper, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and Tellicherry black pepper.

Curry Powder, Maharajah Style: The highest quality curry powder, perfect for special meals. Maharajah is sweet, but not hot, with fragrant cardamom and a full pound of the rare jewel of all spices, Kashmir saffron, in every 50 lbs. of curry powder. Maharajah adds glorious color and incomparable flavor to chicken and seafood curries, and is great for Sunday omelets. Turmeric, coriander, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, black pepper, cloves, red pepper and saffron.

For wonderful rice, saute 1/2 teaspoon Maharaha Curry Powder in 1 tablespoon butter for 2 minutes, add 1 cup rice, 2 cups water or chicken stock, and dash of salt. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer for 18 minutes. Serve with pork chops or baked chicken.

For grilled steaks, pork chops or chicken, try using 1/2 - 2 teaspoons Hot Curry Powder per pound. For a spicy vegetable dip, mix 1 - 2 teaspoons in 1 cup yogurt or sour cream.

Curry Powder, Sweet: A good starter curry powder -- great flavor with little heat. Travel to the port towns of Southwestern India today and you will be served a variety of fish seasoned with this same style of curry, though sometimes with a pinch more fenugreek and always with a healthy dose of fiery hot peppers. Turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Sprinkle Sweet Curry Powder on baked chicken or fish,use about 1/2 teaspoon per pound for rich (not too spicy) flavor. For tuna salad, mix 1 teaspoon per cup mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and a dash of vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon to a pot of chicken soup for flavor and color. For a curried pasta or green salad dressing, mix 2 - 3 teaspoon seasoning in 1 cup yogurt or 1/2 cup each of vinegar and oil.

Curry, Korma: A mild spice blend of coriander, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, cardamom pods and other selected spices. A simple sauce can be made by frying some onion flakes, garlic granules and grated ginger root in some vegetable oil. Add some chopped tomatoes, salt, 1 tablespoon. korma mix and 200ml natural yoghurt. Add meat and simmer until tender.

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