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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


Vindaloo Seasoning: This hot and spicy blend comes from Goa, a small state nestled in the middle of the Malabar Coast of India. Though control of Goa was returned to India in 1961, the four and a half centuries of Portuguese rule left many lasting impressions. Pork Vindaloo is a favorite dish of the Catholics, who make up a third of the population of Goa. The Muslims and Hindus of India do not eat pork, preferring Vindaloo lamb, chicken or duck. This blend is hot, but has been toned down for American tastes. For the authentic fiery hot style Vindaloos that are served in the open-air beach front restaurants, add an equal part cayenne pepper. Coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, Korintje cinnamon, crushed brown mustard, cayenne red pepper, jalapeno pepper, cardamom, turmeric, Tellicherry black pepper and cloves.


Mix 2 - 5 tablespoon spice in 2 - 5 tablespoon water, set aside. Heat 5 tablespoon ghee or oil, brown 4 cubed red potatoes. Brown 1 1/2 pound pork or beef cubes, remove, and then brown 1 large minced onion. Put browned pork back into pot, add Vindaloo paste, 1 cup water, 6 tablespoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt, cook 30 minutes. Add potato, then cook for 30 minutes.

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Vanilla Pods (Vanilla planifolia): Vanilla is the long, slender, black seed pod of a perennial creeper or vine belonging to the orchid family. It is native to the tropical forests of Central America and Mexico. Its sweet, slightly smokey, aroma and taste has made it one of the world's most popular flavorings for sweet dishes. The Aztec Indians in Mexico used Vanilla Pods to favour their chocolate drink 'Xoco-latl'. Vanilla Pods are picked green when they have no scent. The lengthy curing process, which develops Vanilla's fragrant aroma, is one reason for its high cost. Good quality Vanilla Pods give an even better favour than essence and can be re-used many times. Vanilla was believed to be a tonic for the brain. Vanilla Pods should be a rich, deep brown color, somewhat wrinkled in appearance but still supple and resilient. The complex, but subtle, fruity 'bouquet' develops with age and is long lasting. Vanillin is the primary favour constituent of vanilla beans. For sauces, custards and ice cream, infuse the milk with a Vanilla Pod. Afterwards the pod can be rinsed, dried and returned to an airtight container. The same method can be used for syrups and poached fruit.

Vanilla Powder: Vanilla powder is made by spraying high strength extract onto a malto-dextrin base. The base is then dried and powdered, preserving the vanilla flavor in dry form. Use vanilla powder in place of vanilla extract for recipes that should have no color. It is a good alternative to clear extract, which has much of its flavor filtered out. It is also popular used to flavor coffee or as a sprinkle on French toast.


For cakes, puddings and sweets keep a Vanilla Pod in a jar of sugar to be used for baking. Top off with more sugar and the same pod will perfume the added sugar for up to a year.

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