Ginger root is strong in flavour.
- Ginger root is the root of the ginger plant native to parts of South-East Asia, including southern China, that has the scientific name Zingiber officinale.
- ‘Ginger root’ is also known as simply ‘ginger’, and the word has its origins in Old English, Latin, Greek and Prakrit – gingiber, zingiberi, zingiberis, and singabera respectively, with suggestions that it ultimately came from the Sanskrit words ‘srngam’ and ‘vera’, meaning ‘horn’ and ‘body’ respectively, in reference to the root’s shape.
- Ginger root is commonly used as a culinary spice, and ranges from mild to hot strengths with a sweet tangy and spicy flavour, and it is a good source of copper, manganese, magnesium and potassium.
- Common foods that use ginger root as a flavouring include beverages, condiments, curry, and baked goods including cookies, and the root can also be candied, pickled or juiced.
- Ginger root can be collected when the plant root is either young or old, and it can be dried and ground or used fresh, while the younger roots are normally juicer, contain less fibres and are milder in spiciness.
- Ginger root can be used for medical purposes, including preventing motion sickness and other causes of nausea, reduction or prevention of some cancers, and for treating some inflammatory problems.
- The skin of ginger root is typically brown coloured, with red, white, yellow or orange flesh, which varies according to the variety of the plant.
- Fresh ginger root is commonly peeled to remove the skin before grating, slicing or chopping the flesh, though it is not usually necessary to peel younger roots.
- Care should be taken when eating ginger root as it can cause allergic reactions in some people and negative affects include rashes, bloating, burping, gas and nausea, and it can interfere with some medical drugs.
- Ginger root has been used since ancient times in the Middle East, India and China, and in 2012 India was the largest producer of the root, growing a third of the world’s total production.
Make tea with style, using a bay leaf, or two.
- A bay leaf is vegetation that is typically used for culinary purposes, as a flavouring, and the leaves can be derived from a variety of plants.
- Bay leaves come from plants of the families Lauraceae and Myrtaceae, the family of true laurels and myrtles respectively, while the most commonly available leaves are from the bay laurel tree with the scientific name Laurus nobilis.
- Bay leaves are typically light in weight, and range from green to a light brown in colour; and they can be used fresh or dried, and are commonly available in a dried form in supermarkets.
- Ancient Greeks used bay leaves to flavour foods, and they have also been used in Mediterranean, American and some Asian cuisines.
- The bay leaf has a flavour from sharp to bitter, and if used fresh, the flavour will be mild, while the dried leaf emits an aroma similar to herbs.
- Whole, crumbled or ground bay leaves can be used in cooking, while the latter two methods unleash more flavour, however crushed or whole bay leaves are usually removed from the food before serving, as consuming them can be unpleasant and a hazard.
- The aroma from a bay leaf can ward off insects, especially pantry moths, and they can also inhibit mould; while a special oil can be derived from the leaves, which can be sold as essential oil.
- Caution should be taken when obtaining bay leaves, as similar looking leaves can be toxic to humans if they are accidentally used instead.
- Food that can be flavoured with bay leaves includes soup, meat dishes, breads, cream, seafood, vegetables, rice, and condiments; and the leaves are one of the main ingredients in the bundle of herbs called ‘bouquet garnis’.
- Bay leaves are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6 and manganese and the leaves can be used to make a tea drink.
Add a tinge of flavour with some basil.
- Basil is a species of leafy herb that is used primarily in cooking, and it is mostly grown as an annual.
- ‘Basil’ is also known as ‘Saint Joseph’s Wort’ and ‘sweet basil’, and sometimes ‘Thai basil’, however this name usually refers to a variety of the herb.
- Basil has the scientific name Ocimum basilicum and is from the family of mint, and there are numerous varieties of the herb, including a licorice flavoured one.
- Basil plants typically have green fragrant leaves, although purple varieties are available, and they usually grow to be 30 to 130 centimetres (12 to 51 inches) in height.
- Basil is said to have originated in Asia and Africa, where, in some countries, it has been grown as a crop in ancient civilisations, especially in India.
- Basil leaves are generally used to flavour foods, either dried or fresh, although the latter contains much more flavour, and oil can also be extracted from the plants.
- Fresh basil should only be cooked for short time periods, as longer cooking will cause the flavour to dissipate.
- Basil has been used in traditional medicine, especially in India, and studies into the herb have also determined that it has significant antiviral and other beneficial medicinal properties.
- The term ‘basil,’ has it origins in the word ‘basileus’, and when translated from Greek means ‘king’.
- Basil is extremely high in vitamin K, and is good source of manganese, and vitamin A.
Do not let the curry powder burn your mouth… or these facts burn your brain.
- Curry powder is a preparation of spices used primarily in dishes to add flavour and a pleasant smell.
- Curry powder is made primarily of spices, most often turmeric, cumin and coriander, but the mixture also often contains chilli and fenugreek, and sometimes garlic and ginger.
- Curry powder typically produces both a flavour and a curry similar to foods from Asia’s south and it is often spicy.
- Curry powder is often used in curry sauces, but also dishes that require a distinct flavour, and the mixture can be homemade or commonly available in supermarkets or Asian grocery stores.
- Curry powder most likely arrived in European society in 1771, and an advertisement for the product appeared in a British newspaper, dated 1784.
- Curry powder became common in the 1800s and 1900s after the introduction of machines that can mass produce, as well as becoming a widespread and popular export.
- Curry powder became increasingly popular in 1960s to 1970s with the demand and supply of Indian cuisine.
- Curry powder is typically coloured yellow, orange, red, grey or brown, depending on the spice mix, and the powder particles are often very fine, but vary in size.
- Commercially bought curry powder often loses its prominent taste and strength after lengthy storage times, and usually starts deteriorating from six months.
- Curry powder is high in fibre, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron and manganese, and is said to help protect against inflammation and cancer.
Isn’t dill play-on-words fun!?
- Dill is a leafy herb that reaches heights of 40 to 60 centimetres (16 to 24 inches) and the plant is grown as an annual in full sun.
- Dill is native to Europe’s east, Russia’s south, Africa and the Mediterranean, and it is the only species in the Anethum genus; its scientific name is Anethum graveolens.
- Dill is from the family Apiaceae, that is also known as the Umbelliferae family, and it is the family of celery, parsley and carrots, and other hollow stem plants.
- ‘Dill’ is derived from the Norse word ‘dilla’, meaning ‘to lull’ or the Old English word ‘dile’, and the names are a reference to the plant’s medicinal purposes.
- Dill leaves are often used in seafood or soup dishes, as well as pickled items like cucumbers, and the seeds are used as a spice for flavouring.
- Oil can be obtained from the dill plant, which can be used to produce soap.
- Dill has been used for thousands of years, and in England in the 5th to 11th centuries it was used to treat headaches, stomach illness, boils and nausea, and other sickness.
- Fresh dill leaves are delicate and feathery and are typically coloured a bright green, while seeds are mustard to brown in colour.
- Dill has a taste described typically as mild and warm, with a slight anise flavour, and the leaves have a milder flavour than the seeds.
- Dill leaves are a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, and they contain many other vitamins and minerals, while the seeds are high in calcium.
Oregano can flavour your food or restore your health.
- Oregano is a herb, or the leaves, of a typically perennial plant that grows to be 20 to 80 centimetres (8 to 31.5 inches) in height.
- Oregano has the scientific name of Origanum vulgare and is from the family Lamiaceae, the family of mint, that also includes many other common herbs.
- ‘Oregano’ is also known as ‘wild marjoram’, although is not true marjoram, and it is native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia.
- Oregano is typically used as a fresh or dried herb, although its flavour can be quite overpowering when used fresh, so it is recommended that it be removed from the food after cooking, or use dried oregano instead.
- Oregano has a fragrant flavour of warmness and slight bitterness.
- Due to World War II, oregano became more popular in the United States, due to the soldiers returning, having experienced the flavour in Italy.
- Oregano is typically eaten as a seasoning on meat, vegetables, pizza and other dishes, or included in sauces, tea or oils.
- Oregano is a great source of vitamin K, a good source of iron, fibre, manganese and calcium, and very high in antioxidants.
- Oregano is a leafy herb, and is green when used fresh, and when dried, the leaves are crushed and are a brown-green colour.
- Oregano can be used to treat respiratory, nervous and digestive problems, often in the form of ointment or tea, and was historically used as an antiseptic.
Oregano, 2014, The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=73
Oregano, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregano