Last week, as I shopped for ingredients for a culinary class, I spent some time browsing through the seasonings department of my local store. I wanted to test my theory before writing this article. I asked several shoppers of all ages if they knew the difference between an herb and a spice. Four smiled and shrugged no, six said “they’re what you use for seasoning like these here in this isle”, one asked if she could help me find the ones I needed, and three described in detail the difference between one and the other. Although it extended my shopping time, I confirmed that in general, only 1 in 4 of us know the difference.
Herbs are obtained from the leafy green part of the plant. Examples include parsley, oregano, mint, basil, thyme and rosemary. Spices come from either the seed, bark, stem, root or bulb of a plant and are dried before using. Examples include cloves, ginger, pepper, cinnamon and chili.
Many people, especially in temperate climates or during warm summer months grow their own herbs. Use fresh herbs and spices to add flavor variety and color to recipes and leave the choices of what and how much to individual taste. In the book, Flavorful Fortified Food – Recipes to Enrich Life, the Helpful Hints at the end of the recipes encourage the use of herbs and spices to meet those needs. Flavor your food and enrich your life with herbs and spices!