1 – Allspice: Has a flavor like a mixture of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and is best used whole or ground. It has a variety of applications in main dishes, side dishes and desserts.Allspice is a key ingredient in Caribbean dishes and barbeque sauce.
2 – Almond Extract: Used to flavor baking goods, especially Scandinavian, and Middle Eastern meat dishes.
3 – Anise: Has a flavor similar to licorice and comes whole, ground and as an extract. Mainly used to flavor cookies and desserts, notably Italian cookies and cakes, it is also used in Mediterranean meat dishes, as well as to flavor sausages and meat sauces.
4 – Arrowroot: In the form of a powder, Arrowroot is an easily digestable thickener used in gravies, fruit fillings and sauces.
5 – Basil: Fresh, ground, dried or powdered, Basil is a crucial ingredient in Italian cooking and is often paired with garlic. There are different variations and strengths of Basil depending upon where it is grown. It becomes a matter of the cook’s unique preference.
6 – Bay Leaves: Dried and used whole to flavor soups, stews, sauces and any liquid meat is prepared in. Dried Bay Leaves last a long time, but should be tested by breaking a leaf and checking for aroma. Leaf should be removed before serving dish.
7 – Capers: Flower buds of the caperbush, they come pickled in brine in jars and are used in sauces and as a garnish. Often used to enhance gourmet meat dishes, they have a strong pungent salty flavor, adding just the right touch when used sparingly to enhance, not overwhelm, a recipe.
8 – Caraway: Used as whole seeds or ground, Caraway is pungent and aromatic, sweet and nutty. Used especially in German, Hungarian and Scandinavian dishes, as well as Irish breads. Caraway seeds are used to garnish breads, while ground Caraway is used to flavor main dishes like meatballs, sauerkraut, cabbage and fish.
9 – Cardamom: A sweet, strong, aromatic spice, Cardamom is sometimes described as being in the ginger family. Used in many cultures in many different ways, Cardamom is a primary ingredient in Scandinavian breads and desserts and Middle Eastern drinks. True Cardamom is expensive because of complicated harvesting. It’s best to buy only what you need, as it looses its quality if stored.
10 – Cayenne Pepper: Also referred to as red pepper, Cayenne is used the world over in any hot and spicy dish, even some desserts. Usually used in ground form, Cayenne strengh varies among manufacturers, place harvested and time harvested. It’s wise to test the strength before adding to recipes.
11 – Celery Seed: Used whole as seeds, flaked, or ground, Celery is used in especially in coleslaw and potato salad, soups, sauces, dressings and pickling. It can also be used as a seasoning or dry rub for fish, chicken, beef and pork. The dried form is concentrated and will give twice the flavor of fresh celery.
12 – Chervil: Usually dried and crushed, Chervil is similar to parsley, but considered by the French to be irreplaceable in casseroles and soups, Chervil is too delicate to stand long cooking and should be added just before serving.
13 – Chili Powder: Chili Powder consists of dried, ground chili peppers, and sometimes includes other ingredients as well, making it actually a blend of herbs and spices. Strength varies widely with manufacturers, types of peppers, and what is included in the blend. Used throughout the world in chili and any other hot spicy dish.
14 – Chives: Actually the smallest species of the onion family, chives usually refers to the long leaves and are preferably used freshly chopped. Good cooks have dried chives on hand to toss in soups, stews, fish, omelets, potatoes and casseroles when fresh aren’t available.
15 – Cilantro: Known primarily as an ingredient in Mexican salsas and dishes, Cilantro is the world’s most used herb. From the leaves of the coriander plant, it is used fresh or dried. Its taste defies description and really must be experienced first hand. People either like it or not, and few are indifferent. Can be used in almost anything, according to taste.
16 – Cinnamon: One of the oldest and most prized of spices, Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree and is used as dried sticks or ground powder. Considered pungently sweet in taste, cinnamon is used in many desserts the world over and also in exotic main dishes.
17 – Cloves: A very strong aromatic flower bud of the clove tree, cloves are dried and used whole or ground. Known for spicing up any dish, especially during holidays, cloves are particularly used to stud ham, spice drinks and desserts, and treat toothaches.
18 – Coriander: Coriander seeds are used ground or whole, the leaves actually are called cilantro. Considered a spice as well as an herb, coriander is used in main dishes as well as dessert, especially in what is considered ethnic cooking. A common ingredient of chili and curry dishes.
19 – Cream of Tartar: Also known as tartaric acid, cream of tartar is an essential in your cupboard to help maintain the stiffness in egg white products and meringues and adding tartness to recipes.
20 – Cumin: A seed used whole and ground, Cumin is an essential in Mexican dishes and crucial to curry dishes. It is used worldwide in many ethnic foods, less so in American dishes.
21 – Curry Powder: A blend of several spices, there are many kinds and strengths of curry powder; sweet curry, hot curry, mild curry, red curry, yellow curry, and the list goes on to include location and origin. Curry powder is used especially in Indian curry dishes, but is an essential ingredient in many exotic dishes.
22 – Dill: Used as seeds and leaves (weed), whole and ground. Dill is well-known for flavoring pickles, and has a mild tart aromatically sour taste. Perfect for fish and in tartar sauce, dill is also used for herb breads and in Scandinavian main dishes.
23 – Fennel: Seeds and leaves are used whole and ground. Fennel is similar to anise, but lighter and sweeter. An essential in Italian sausage, fennel is also used in pasta sauces, salads, soups and stews.
24 – Fenugreek: Seeds are used whole or ground, somewhat sweet, fenugreek is used in Middle Eastern cooking in most curries and chutneys.
25 – Garlic: Next to salt and pepper, probably the most universally favored herb. Garlic is a bulb plant similar to onions. Preferably used fresh, the cloves that make up the bulb are separated, peeled and crushed or pressed, often roasted, and used to flavor dishes the world over, including some desserts. Garlic can also be purchased dried and powdered, a good shelf item when fresh isn’t available.
26 – Ginger: Roots of the ginger plant are used fresh, dried, whole, chopped and powdered. Especially known for flavoring Asian dishes, ginger has gained worldwide popularity. It is spicey and sweet and can be peppery, depending on the strength used. Used in main dishes, salads and desserts, and also for teas.
27 – Mace: From the outer shell of the nutmeg seed, mace is similar but stronger. Used dried or ground in custards, spice cakes, fruit and desserts, as well as stuffings, meatballs, hotdogs and barbeque sauces. Can be used interchangeably with nutmeg in most recipes.
28 – Marjoram: A member of the oregano family, marjoram is a delicate aromatic herb used fresh or dried in savory dishes. It should be added at the end of cooking to preserve it’s delicate flavor.
28 – Mint: Leaves of the mint plant are used fresh or dried to falvor salads, meats, vegetables, desserts and drinks. There are endless varieties of mint and it is easily grown in most kitchen gardens.
29 – Mustard: Seeds of the mustard plant are used fresh or dried, whole or ground, mild to hot, brown or yellow. It is used to make prepared mustard or as seasoning, especially in salads and deviled eggs.
30 – Nutmeg: Having a warm, spicy sweet taste, the seeds of the nutmeg plant are mostly used ground to flavor cakes, cookies, doughnuts, sweet potatoes and squash, sauces and soups, and of course, eggnog.
31 – Onion: Onion needs no explanation as a plant and is regularly used fresh, but it’s useful to keep dehydrated onion products on hand for seasoning in your daily cooking. Onion flakes, powder, salt are all handy emergency shelf staples.
32 – Oregano: Becoming popular after World War II when Americans discovered pizza, oregano leaves are used fresh or dried, especially in Italian sauces, but also in Greek, Mexican and Southwestern cooking.
33 – Paprika: Derived from a sweet pepper plant, paprika is best known for Hungarian dishes. Americans use it to garnish potato salads and deviled eggs, but the many flavors and strengths of paprika can be used to enhance many other dishes.
34 – Parsley: The leaves of the parsley plant have long been used to garnish almost every restaurant plate in America. Mildly peppery in flavor, chewing the parsley garnish after a meal restores fresh breath and clears the palate. Available in dried form, parsley flakes are handy for soups, sauces and salads.
35 – Pepper: Black, white and green pepper all come from the same pepper plant, but are harvested at different stages of development. To preserve the freshest taste, pepper should be ground as it’s used.
36 – Poppy Seed: Seeds from the poppy flower have a nutty taste and are dried and used whole in muffins, cakes, breads and salad dressings.
37 – Rosemary: Leaves are used fresh or dried, whole or ground. Rosemary has a very aromatic, slightly piney flavor. In fact, the leaves are more like pine needles. Used especially to flavor chicken and lamb, rosemary is also wonderful in herb breads.
38 – Saffron: Each saffron flower produces only three stamens or threads which must be carefully handled, making saffron the world’s most expensive spice. Pungent and aromatic, saffron is used very sparingly in fish, stews and curries, and to color and flavor rice.
39 – Sage: Leaves are used fresh, dried or powdered. With a pungent or musty flavor, sage is used sparingly in Italian sauces, main dishes and stuffings and is an essential in sausage flavoring.
40 – Salt: Derived from salt mines and seawater, its flavor is, well, salty. Used to flavor and to preserve or cure, you can now buy many varieties of salt.
41 – Sesame Seed: Seeds from the sesame plant have a nutty flavor and are used in breads, muffins, cookies and salad dressings. Also used to garnish asian dishes. Sesame seeds are best refrigerated to maintain freshness.
42 – Tarragon: Leaves are used fresh or dried. With a strong aromatic sweet flavor, not really comparible to other flavors, Tarragon is used to flavor dressings and sauces, and especially lends itself to mild fish and meats, like chicken and veal.
43 – Thyme: Leaves are used fresh or dried. Dried thyme holds its flavor well. Sweet and earthy, thyme is famous for French cooking and is usually blended with other herbs for seasoning just about any dish.
44 – Turmeric: A member of the ginger family, roots of the turmeric plant are used dried and ground. With a pungent, musky flavor, turmeric is used in curries and East Indian recipes.
45 – Vanilla: Derived from beans from the vanilla orchid, vanilla is used whole or in extract. Different varieties and strengths of vanilla can be found from all over the world. Used primarily in desserts and drinks, vanilla can also lend flavor to exotic main dishes.