Horticultural Product Technology
Herbs and Spices Report
Herbs are classified as plant species with distinctive flavour, smell and mechanical properties. Herbs have numerous uses including culinary ingredients, medicines, pest control and novel packaging systems. Herbs impart important flavour compounds on food and are used traditionally in varying cultural foods. Herbs are found on consumer shelves in various forms, fresh plants, fresh cut, dried or in paste form. The most common method of preserving herbs is drying or desiccation. Herbs such as rosemary and thyme, which are woody and more robust are the easiest to dry without a dehydrator by tying them in small bundles and hanging them to dry. Herbs with more moisture content will mould if they are not dried. When the leaves are crispy dry and crumble easily between the fingers, they are ready to be packaged and stored. Spices encapsule a group of condiments originating from plant organs such as seeds, roots, stems, bark and fruits. Spices may be classified according to their traditional culinary uses. Other uses include medicinal and herbal treatments for aliments. Comparable with herbs, spices too complement various types of meats, vegetables and fish. Whole spices may be ground using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder or by using a grater. The grinding enhances the aromatic flavour compounds and makes them easier to process. Toasting and grinding whole spices on the hob is a method used to enhance the aroma and the flavour compounds of whole spices. Oven roasting is mainly used for larger spices with an unusual shape (cassia bark, cinnamon, star anise) whereas dry roasting in a pan is preferred for smaller aromatic seeds (coriander, caraway, fennel). Spicer pastes incorporate fresh ingredients such as garlic and ginger that lose a certain amount of flavour when dried. The use of an oil base serves to preserve and encapsulate the...