By spices we mean parts of plants that, due to their content of taste or smell, are used in the preparation of all types of food in order to “enrich” the food with these properties. In that sense, table salt is not a spice. Spices played as important an economic and political role in medieval Europe as in the beginning of the new century, as did oil today. They were extremely important, but not only as spices, but also as a preservative, but also as a base for medicines.

Most spices are herbal products origin, characteristic odor and taste or colors.

Aromatic parts of herbs are used as spices: root, bark, leaf, flower bud, flower, pistil, fruit, seed.

Some spices are used in their natural form, while others are prepared by drying, grinding, powdering and extracting aromatic ingredients. The minced meat occupies a significant place in consumption

The spice trade, especially those from Asia, was a very lucrative business. This trade enriched first the Arab states and the Italian city-states, and then the colonial powers, which occasionally defended their monopolistic position with weapons. European expansion began in the 14th century with the opening of the Spice Route, a sea route to the East Indies (at that time a common name for the Malay and Indochina Peninsula). As early as the 12th century, some physicians attributed certain medicinal properties to spices. Today, the most expensive spice is saffron, followed by vanilla and cardamom.

Spices have been the privilege of the rich in times past. Over time,  spices became available as well to the rest of the population, to make some species crucial symbols of individual national cuisines.


A pinch of pepper is added to almost every recipe. Once used as a medium of exchange and approved by the gods as a sacred gift, fortunately this most famous spice is now available in stores throughout the year.

Pepper comes from a smooth, twisted plant, which grows in hot and humid climates. After 3-4 years, it begins to produce small white clustered flowers and turns them into grains, known as peppercorns.

Black pepper comes from the fruit of a plant called Pepper nigrum from coca comes from both green and white pepper. The difference in color is a reflection of the different stages of the course that passes during development and processing methods.

Black pepper is harvested while its grains are half-ripe, just before they turn red. They are then left to dry, which wrinkles their skin and turns them black. Green pepper is harvested when the grains are not yet ripe and are green in color, and white when they are fully ripe. The white color is obtained by soaking in a saline solution, whereby the dark outer shell falls off and only a white grain of pepper remains.

Pink pepper comes from a completely different plant – Schinus molle – and apart from its similarity in appearance, it has nothing in common with other types of pepper.

Black pepper is the hottest and most aromatic pepper compared to other types and can be bought whole, beaten or ground into a powder.

A native of India, pepper has played a very important role in our history for thousands of years. Since the time of ancient Greece, it has been highly valued not only as a spice but also as a currency and a sacred gift to the gods, and during the Middle Ages the wealth of people was measured by their stocks of black pepper.

Today, the main commercial pepper producers are India and Indonesia.

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Along with salt, pepper is one of the most universal spices. It is used in all spicy dishes, it is used both ground and in grain. It is used to season meat, milk, seafood, eggs, vegetables, legumes, drinks and even fruit. It is best to grind it just before seasoning the dish.

Add freshly ground pepper before the end of cooking. Since it loses its aroma and taste properties during longer heat treatment, always put it at the end of cooking, which will ensure a really great dish.

Pepper is extremely important in the cuisines of China, the USA, England, Greece, some parts of Asia, France and Italy. According to the possibilities of cooking, it is again very universal. It is suitable for baking, frying, steaming, for preparing steamed dishes. It is the most suitable for baking, however.

Pepper is a very important ingredient in a large part of curry mixture (masala), which is consumed all over the world, but is characteristic of South Asian and Indian cuisine. Apart from the curry mixture, pepper finds its place in other dishes of world cuisine – in marinades for poultry, in pumpkin sauce, as a spice for smoked sausage, in an oriental mixture of five spices and many others.

Pepper contains a certain amount of essential oils, which determines its characteristic aroma. The peppery taste is thanks to the alkaloid turpentine. It also contains terpenes, fats, carbohydrates, aromas, colors, tannins, vitamin C, resins, etc.

White pepper

White pepper is a spice that is widely used in cooking. It has a characteristic odor and a slightly spicy taste. They were obtained from the fruits of the plant Piper nigrum, from which the well-known black pepper was also obtained. This plant belongs to the family Piperaceae.

Pepper nigrum can be found in places where the climate is warm and humid. Its country of origin is India, where this plant can be found as a wild plant, ie. wild. In addition to being grown in India, pepper nigrum is also grown in Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, China and Thailand.

After 3-4 years, when the plant sprouts, it begins to bear fruit. They can be used in cooking for the next 15-20 years. If the fruits are harvested before they are ripe enough, then black pepper is obtained. Green pepper can be obtained from the same berries, whose method of processing is different.

White pepper as a spice is obtained from the fruits of Piper nigrum, when the grains of this plant reach full maturity. During that time, the grains turn red. They are picked and placed in water to stand in it for 6-7 days. This procedure is necessary in order to remove the cuticle much easier later. The coating is removed because it quickly begins to rot during processing. When removed, only the grain remains. These grains are placed in the sun to dry well. In the end, when the white pepper is ready for use, it actually has a yellowish color. In some cases, white pepper can get when the black pepper wrapper is scraped off.

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White pepper has a milder taste compared to other types of pepper. It also has a slightly milder aroma. Usually people prefer it, because it does not cause problems in people who have a sensitive stomach. Some chefs add white pepper to light-colored dishes, and black pepper is added to dishes that have a dark color. A mixture of black and white pepper is used in French cuisine. The aromatic combinations of green, white and black pepper are especially pleasant. When ground pepper is used, it is added to dishes when they are completely ready.

White pepper is a spice with a unique aroma, which perfectly complements the taste and smell of dishes with fish, meat and vegetables. Experienced chefs do not miss the opportunity to add this spice to sauces, soups, baked veal and beef dishes, salads, etc. The same chefs claim that white pepper is one of the main ingredients if you want your dishes to have a refined taste.

White pepper contains saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. It contains sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and manganese. White pepper is a source of fiber and protein.

Bay leaf

Bay leaf has been considered a sacred plant for thousands of years – it is ideal for many feasts and refined dishes, and it is also known for its healing properties. In cooking, bay leaf adds a specific aroma to food and makes it taste good, and as an added bonus, bay leaf has a beneficial effect on human health.

Even in ancient Greece in the Roman Empire, bay leaf is considered a sacred plant. He was a symbol of glory and greatness, he was also a halo of victory. The bay leaf was planted next to the temples dedicated to Apollo – the sun god. As is well known, he is always depicted in paintings with a laurel wreath in his head. The ancient Romans wove laurel wreaths for winners in various battles and sports competitions.

The homeland of the bay leaf is the Mediterranean countries. The aromatic leaves of it are actually the leaves of several species of trees from the Laurel family (Lauraceae).

Today, four types of trees are most often grown, of which bay leaf is used. Mediterranean laurel or laurel (Laurus nobilis) after drying is a wonderful spice for soups, lambs, dynasties, pâtés and pickles in various dishes of Mediterranean cuisine. California laurel (Umbellularia californica) is also known as Oregon myrtle. It resembles Mediterranean laurel, but has a stronger taste.

Indian laurel (Cinnamomum tejpata) has a cinnamon-like smell and a quality taste, but is a much weaker spice. In fact, the scent of Indian laurel is reminiscent of the smell and taste of Chinese cinnamon (cassia), which determines its specific application in cooking. This species is only called a bay leaf, and although one plant is from the laurel family, it belongs to a completely different genus.

Indonesian bay leaf (Syzygium polyanthum) is also known as tanaman slam and belongs to the Myrtaceae family. In Europe and in the west, this type of laurel tree is not widely used, it is used mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia. These leaves are used mostly dried or fresh, they are an excellent spice for preparing meat, and sometimes vegetables. This species has a weaker aroma and a different smell than the others. Heat treatment of dishes in which Indonesian laurel is used is mandatory, because only in that way it releases its aroma.

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Dried bay leaf is one of the most commonly used spices in cooking. Proper use of bay leaves requires rubbing against each other before use. In that way, in addition to the aroma, the healing properties are also enhanced. When preparing the dish, the bay leaf is placed 5-10 minutes before the end of the heat treatment. Keep in mind that the long standing of the bay leaf in the food gives a slightly unpleasant and bitter taste.

Use bay leaf in dishes with a more spicy taste – with beef, fish, venison. It is put in pickles, it is used to season lambs, stews, soups and stews. It is best combined with garlic, vinegar, juniper, allspice, wine, greens for soup.

Today, bay leaf is one of the most available medicines. Bay leaf contains aromatic essential oil. It contains almost 50% cineole and 65 other useful ingredients, including rutin.

Thanks to various essential substances, bay leaf has a phytonocidal effect and helps purify the air. It is rich in phytonocides, contains many microelements, esters, cleanses the body of deposits, improves immunity. Among the minerals contained in bay leaf are manganese, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sodium and zinc.


Turmeric is traditionally called Indian saffron, because its rich yellow-orange color is similar to the color of saffron. It is used as a spice, medicinal herb or textile dye.

Turmeric is obtained from the root of the turmeric plant, which has a rough brown bark and a bright orange interior. This plant has a very interesting taste and smell. Its taste is spicy, warm and bitter, while its aroma is light and reminiscent of orange and ginger.

Turmeric originates from Indonesia and the southern part of India, where it has been produced for more than 5,000 years. Arab traders brought turmeric to Europe in the 13th century, but in recent years it has become popular in Western culture. Much of that popularity is the result of recent scientific research, which proves its therapeutic properties. The leading producers of turmeric on the market are India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Jamaica.

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Turmeric is used in cooking not only to give flavor to dishes, but also for their color. Turmeric is used to season rice, roast chicken, various sauces, fish dishes, mustard and mayonnaise. In India, turmeric is regularly used to season rice, eggs, curry and many other dishes.
As a color, it is registered in the EU classification for food supplements as E100. In industry, it is used as a color for cheese, margarine, liqueurs, biscuits and biscuits, orange juice, sauces. It is used to protect food from sunlight.

The color of turmeric varies from species to species, but it is not a criterion for its quality. For the highest content of curcumin, turmeric should be used, and not curry powder, because pure turmeric powder has the highest concentration of curcumin, on average 3.13% of its weight.

Turmeric is not an allergen and is not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogen, oxalate and purine. Turmeric is an excellent source of iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.

Turmeric powder should be stored in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric roots should be stored in the refrigerator.


From the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, throughout the Middle Ages until today, cumin is one of the most famous spices that has a wide range in cooking. Cumin has a very characteristic and strong smell, a specific and intrusive taste, which goes well with meat dishes. Today, cumin is added to various minced and minced meat sausages, as well as homemade sausages and sudzuk.

It is best to add cumin powder or ground. The taste of cumin is similar to curry as well as garam masali, which means that cumin is one of the most popular spices in India. This spice is also preferred in Latin America, and the Arabs are not indifferent either.

In essence, cumin is a biennial or perennial essential plant – wild and cultivated.

Cumin as a spice was popular in ancient Egypt, as evidenced by the fruits of cumin found in Egyptian tombs. There is a lot of talk about cumin seeds in the Bible. During the Roman emperors, cumin was treated as a spice, but also as a medicine.

Pliny says that Nero deceived his subject by drinking cumin tea every day for a while, which causes a very pale skin. The sick, pale appearance of that subject’s skin forced Nero to agree to all his demands.

The country of origin of cumin is considered to be the territory of Central Asia, but today it is grown mainly in the Mediterranean area, where it was originally grown. The largest cumin plantations are in Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, North America and Chile.

Cumin seeds are used as a spice, and in western countries, ground cumin or powdered cumin is used.

Latin Americans and Arabs regularly use cumin as a spice for various dishes. It is part of various types of curry and garam masala. It can also be used in the production of sausages, because it has good canning properties.

Cumin is often added as a shock absorber to various dough products. Cumin is an obligatory spice for the preparation of minced meat dishes, as well as for the preparation of sauerkraut with meat, cabbage with rice, barbecue ingredients, savory cakes, etc. Cumin is also used to make various liqueurs.

Cumin contains essential oils, proteins, fats, tannins, acetic acid, flavonoids kaempferol and quartzitin. The aboveground part of the plant contains kaemferol and quartzites, as well as isoramnetin.


Caraway is a specific aromatic spice, which in our area can also be known as cumin. The statue plant itself belongs to the perennial plants of the Apiaceae family and is a relative of the parsley and carrot. Caraway can also be found as a wild plant in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

The spice caraway actually means the fruits of the plant, which are often and incorrectly called seeds, because they are very reminiscent of them. Cultivated caraway differs from the wild one, because it is grown as a biennial plant.

The small fruits of caraway have a strong aroma and taste of anise. They need to be harvested before they ripen. When they reach full maturity, they turn brown. Caraway seeds are usually not ground and used that way. Their alternative are seeds called, but caraway has a different shape, taste and aroma.

The history of this aromatic spice, which should not be mixed with cumin, dates back to the past – from Eurasia and North Africa. There are data according to which cumin was cultivated in Egypt as far back as 1500 BC.

There is also archaeological evidence in the form of the remains of caraway fruits, which were found next to the hearths of several houses in 3000 BC in Germany, and the remains were also found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Information about caraway can also be found in the chef of the Roman gastronomist and author of culinary books, Alicia, who adds this spice to several of his recipes, in large quantities.

In the Middle Ages, magic powers were attributed to caraway, so where this spice is mentioned, there was always a veil of mysticism. Even the famous Shakespeare mentioned this spice in the 16th century in his plays.

Caraway is also used to produce essential oil, which is obtained by distilling the fruit with steam. The oil is in the form of a gray-brown liquid with a specific smell and a slightly spicy taste. Caraway essential oil is useful because it stimulates the secretion of the gastrointestinal tract and mammary glands. It can also be used as a flavoring in cosmetics, in making soaps, lotions and perfumes.

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Caraway is a specific spice, which is most often added to fatty foods, which are difficult to digest, which include pork, goose, duck, dishes with cabbage, beets, etc. Also, cumin is one of the favorite spices that complements the taste of various salty pastries, pies, cakes and other dough products. The aroma of cumin goes well with some cheeses, wurd, dairy spreads and other dairy products.

However, when it comes to dosing spices, you should be careful here, because the taste of caraway is strong and between half and 1 teaspoon is quite enough to eat for 4 people.

Caraway is a spice that can be found in almost all stores in smaller packages. Store it in a closed, dry place.


Saffron is considered to be one of the oldest spices used, because it has been popular since 3000 years ago. Known as the “king of spices”, today saffron is one of the most expensive, most valued and taste-specific spices in the world. It gives dishes a unique taste and many of us are often inclined to pay more, in order to get the greatest gastronomic enjoyment.

In essence, saffron is a spice obtained from the flowers of saffron (Crocus sativus) – a variety of saffron from the iris family (Iridaceae). Saffron is characterized by its characteristic bitter taste and smell of iodoform or hay.

They are such because of the chemical substances picrocrocin and saffron. Saffron also contains the carotenoid color crocin, which gives a rich golden-yellow color to food. Because of these properties, saffron is a highly sought after ingredient in many dishes around the world.

It is also used in medicine, and in cooking it should be used in minimal quantities due to its strong taste and aroma. The name “saffron” comes from the Arabic word “za’faraan” which means “yellow”. The Latin name of saffron is “safranum”. “Safranum” is also associated with the Italian “zafferano” and the Spanish “azafrán”.

Saffron was cultivated for the first time in Greece. In the Middle East, saffron has long been known, while in Egyptian medical texts it is mentioned in 1500 BC. Even older traces of saffron have been discovered in ancient written originals of Sumerian civilization. The Minoans depicted saffron in castles on frescoes around 1500-1600 BC. presenting it as a medicine. Even the legendary Cleopatra used saffron for her bathroom, to create greater pleasure while making love.

Egyptian healers used saffron to treat various types of stomach ailments. Saffron was also used to dye fabrics in Levantine cities such as Sidon and Tire. The Roman scientist Abel Cornelius Celsus prescribed saffron as a remedy for wounds, coughs, colic and scabies. The Romans were passionate fans of saffron. The colonizers brought saffron when they moved to southern Gaul where it was widely cultivated until the fall of Rome in 271. Competitive theories claim that saffron did not return to France until the 8th century with the Moors or with the pope to Avignon in the 14th century.

Various legends are told about saffron. His name comes from ancient times and is associated with the name of a beautiful young man named Crocus. According to legend, there were two versions of the appearance of the plant. One tells how the god Hermes was in love with a young man whom he killed by a stupid coincidence. At the place where his blood was shed, a beautiful crocus plant grew. According to another version, Crocus was in love with a nymph from which he was inseparable. Hermes turned the nymph into a bush, and the young man into a beautiful plant which they later named saffron.

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The strong unusual aroma of saffron and the ability to color dishes ensures its wide use as a spice. It is used in confectionery in the preparation of biscuits, cakes, puddings, cakes, crusts. It is added to fruit jellies, creams, mousses and ice cream.

It is used to color light broths (vegetable, fish), vegetarian soups. In the Middle East and southern Europe, it is used to flavor and color rice dishes (pilaf, paella, etc.). It is also added to dishes with lamb, fish and poultry to increase flavor and color. It combines very well with tomatoes and asparagus.

Since saffron is a strong spice, it should be used in minimal quantities. an overdose can make meals bitter. It is good to dissolve saffron in a little hot broth, water or milk beforehand. An aqueous solution was obtained by adding 1 gram of spice to 120 g of boiling water. The solution can be used after a minimum of 20 minutes.

Saffron is added to hot dishes 5 minutes before the end of cooking – and to the dough during mixing.

Saffron contains carotenoids, which are natural pigments found in fruits and vegetables, as well as calcium salts, vitamins B1 and B2, wax and essential oil. The enchanting spice saffron contains over 150 essential and aromatic compounds, but is also rich in many non-essential active ingredients.

Many of them are carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene and various alpha and beta carotenes. The taste of saffron is due to the bitter glucose picrocrocin which makes up 4% of dry saffron. Zeaxanthin is one of the carotenoids in the spice that is reddish in color and naturally present in the retina of the human eye.

Saffron is an essential oil to which it largely owes its specific scent. Saffron is less bitter than picrocrocin and can make up to 70% of the essential fraction of dry saffron.

Apart from being one of the oldest, saffron is also one of the most expensive spices. To obtain 1 kg of the finished product, it is necessary to process about a thousand flowers – a fact that determines the high price. The price per kilogram reaches $ 6,000.

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Choose saffron with fibers only from proven brands. Buy only saffron that is gentle and soft to the touch, with long fibers and a beautiful saturated color (red, yellow in some places). Saffron should be very aromatic, pleasant taste.

Store saffron in a hermetically sealed opaque box. Keep it in a dark and dry place.

Star anise

Star anise or Chinese anise is the fruit of the evergreen tree Illicium verum which belongs to the family Magniliaceae. This spice is also known as Indian or Siberian anise. In Russia, star anise is called badian, and in Italy – anice stellato.

The fruits can have between 6 and 10 sections. When the fruits ripen, they get a dark brown color. Each section yields one seed, which is later used as a spice. This seed has a reddish or brownish color.

Star anise is grown in countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, India. This tree thrives in places with tropical climates.

Chinese anise, as you can imagine, originates from southwest Asian countries. In China and Vietnam, this tree grows at an altitude of 600 to 1500 meters. Also, it is known that star anise is one of the favorite spices in this area, so its properties and characteristics have been examined for a long time. Even before Christ, these peoples used aromatic seeds for various dishes and medicinal balms. The wood was used in shipbuilding, so in some places this wood was also called shipping anise.

Chinese anise was brought to our continent centuries later – even in the 16th century. Like other different foods, which are not from our area, anise immediately became popular, and therefore its price rises significantly. The inhabitants of Europe are looking forward to the new spice, and it will soon become a part of both folk medicine and cuisine. Europeans use anise in large quantities in making pastries and various dishes.

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Star anise is a spice that is widely used in the culinary world. Ground star anise is used in recipes for various sweets, including pastries, jams, jellies, pear compotes, apples, plums, peaches. Star anise can be successfully combined with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, vanilla. It also goes well with pepper, garlic, dill, primrose, so it can be used in combination with them as a spice for savory dishes.

Anise can be used as a spice for fish, chicken and duck, as well as for veal and pork. These aromatic grains are added to vegetable soups and soups. However, it is very important not to overdo it with this spice, because if it is fresh, it is quite strong, so often only 1 g is enough to season the whole portion. Star anise essential oil is used in the production of liqueurs.

The composition of the ructus Anisi stellai is somewhat very similar to the composition of the plant Pimpinella anisum, known as anise. Small shiny grains are a real source of anethole, tannin, resin, sugar, etc.

Star anise can be found everywhere. When buying this spice, you need to pay attention to the expiration date, because if the spice is old, then its aroma will not be felt. Whole seeds, as well as ground ones, can be found in stores. If you buy whole grains, you can grind them yourself.

This way you will get an aromatic powder, which has a black color. It is best to store ground anise in closed containers made of natural materials and it is necessary to store them in a dry and dark place. If stored properly, the scent of star anise can last up to a year.


Cinnamon is the brown bark of the tree of the same name, which is dried, twisted and given a shape better known as a cinnamon stick. Cinnamon can be found in the form of sticks or in powder.

There are one hundred varieties of Cinnamonum verum (Latin name for cinnamon), but varieties such as Cinnamonum zelyanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamonum aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon) are mostly used and consumed. Ceylon cinnamon is also known as “real cinnamon”, while Chinese is also called “cassia”. Although both types of cinnamon have characteristic characteristics and aromas, sweet and pleasant taste, the aroma of Ceylon cinnamon is more refined and stronger.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most famous spices. It is mentioned in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt, not only as a beverage, as an aromatic agent in medicine, but also as a means of embalming. It was considered more valuable than gold. Then cinnamon became more and more popular in China, and then cinnamon as a spice conquered the countries of medieval Europe. Due to high demand, cinnamon is becoming one of the most widely sold foods between the Middle East and Europe.

Ceylon cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean, while cassia is produced mostly in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

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Cinnamon can be used in the kitchen in several ways – for the preparation of various cakes, pies, milk and chocolate drinks. It is used as an ingredient in fruit juices, mulled wine, honey and tea. One of the most famous uses of cinnamon is in sutlijaš, ie. milk with rice. Cinnamon is one of the healthiest sugar substitutes, so if you want to lead a slightly healthier lifestyle, you can use cinnamon instead of coffee sugar.

Cinnamon sticks are a very interesting addition with which you can serve coffee to guests. A cinnamon stick, which is in a bowl with sugar, gives a pleasant aroma, regardless of whether it is white or brown sugar. Decorate the Christmas table with cinnamon sticks – so in addition to the aroma, you will also have a beautiful decoration.

Cinnamon contains large amounts of essential oils, cinnamon aldehyde, resin, starch, eugenol and tannins. Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

You can buy cinnamon in the form of sticks and powder. Cinnamon sticks can be stored much longer than cinnamon powder, but still the powder is more aromatic. Whether cinnamon is of good quality can be judged by its smell, which should be sweet, strong and clean. Cinnamon should be stored in a glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Cinnamon powder can last for about six months, while cinnamon sticks can be fresh for more than a year. If you want to prolong the freshness of cinnamon, ie. its shelf life, you can also store it in the refrigerator.


The fame of nutmeg as a spice with a unique and specific aroma and taste dates back to ancient times and lasts until today, when nutmeg is an inseparable part of many ethnic cuisines. Italian, Caribbean, Indian, French, Greek, even dishes typical of Latin America and the Middle East are difficult to pass without the use of a small dose of nutmeg.

The nutmeg tree is from the Myristicaceae family. It is an evergreen tree and reaches up to 15 meters in height. The native land of nutmeg is the island of Banda and the Mollusk Islands, but the cuisine there does not pay special attention to the culinary advantages of this spice. He became a favorite of the Arabs, who traded with the Far East from ancient times to the end of the Middle Ages. Quite common as a spice in Arabic cuisine, nutmeg was brought to Europe.

Nutmeg was quickly liked by Europeans, but in the very beginning it was quite difficult to find, because it was ingested in small quantities. During the 16th century, interest in nutmeg grew after the Portuguese conquered the Molus Islands. They immediately imposed a monopoly on the export of spices.

After about 100 years, the archipelago was occupied by the Dutch who guard the plantations and nutmeg trees. Strict punishments awaited anyone who dared to pluck at least one nut, while the end result was that the perpetrator would be left without an arm. After that, the French managed to get hold of tree seedlings and plantations of nutmeg plantations on the island of Mauritius.

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Culinary processing of spices is extremely suitable in combination with pepper, bay leaf, onion, parsley, soup roots. Nutmeg is an ideal spice for various stews, pâtés, soups, minced meat dishes, sauces, vegetable dishes. Without it, the famous bechamel with mushrooms would not have its characteristic taste. In Indian cuisine, nuts are used almost entirely in cakes. In European cuisine, the nut and its peel are especially often used in dishes with potatoes.

Nutmeg and its peel have a similar taste, while the taste of the nut differs in that it is a little sweeter. The rind has a light orange, saffron-like color, so it is a favorite when preparing light sauces because it has a characteristic and delicious color. The yield of nutmeg bark is only 15% of the whole spice, which is the reason why it is more expensive. Nutmeg is a raw material for the widespread use of essential oil. It is obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used a lot in pharmacies and perfumeries. Nutmeg essential oil is used even in the production of Coca-Cola.

In stores you can find both ground and whole pieces of nutmeg. When nutmeg is powdered, it is easier to use, which is why it is the most common form in which you will find it. Store the spice in hermetically sealed jars, placed in a dry and dark place.

Black cumin

Black cumin is a legendary plant that comes from the east. Black cumin is 40-60 cm high, and the seeds, oil and plant obtained from it are known by different names – black seed, sugar beet, pharaoh oil.

Black cumin is used in Eastern medicine as a means of treating various health problems. The prized plant grows in the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

Despite the fact that black cumin is not very popular in our country, its history dates back to time immemorial. Archaeologists have found black cumin seeds in excavations dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, indicating that black cumin was used as far back as 8000 years ago. Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered oil among Tutankhamun’s belongings that no one knew exactly.

It almost became clear that it was deer cumin oil. Historians knew that the ancient Egyptians used oil every day, but no one knows what. Yet the fact that black cumin oil is among Tutankhamun’s things speaks for itself in its importance. Nefertiti herself used black cumin to preserve her beauty and youth.

The Old Testament mentions the importance of black cumin and even describes how to obtain oil. The plant was also known to the Romans who called it Greek coriander. The ancient Greek physician Dioscordis used it as a remedy for toothache, headache and general health ailments.

Ancient evidence of the widespread use of black cumin and testing conducted today, mark black cumin as a plant that is one of the main contenders for a remedy that strengthens health for thousands of years.

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Black cumin oil contains over 100 active ingredients. It is rich in essential fatty acids, niacin, proteins, folic acid, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, carotene, arginine and others.

Black cumin is found in stores in the form of oil and food supplements. The oil should be stored in a dry and ventilated place. It is necessary to keep it out of the reach of small children. The manufacturer and expiration date should be clearly indicated on the packaging.

Flax seed

Flax seed is the seed of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), which belongs to the flax family. The flax tree reaches a height of 1.5 m. This culture is characterized by lanceolate leaves and purple flowers. Flaxseed is shiny and brown, and is found in a ball cocoon. Flax is a crop that is grown in many parts of the world / India, the Baltics, Poland, etc./, and for this reason flax seed is a very popular food.

According to some sources, man himself began to cultivate the plant more than 7,000 years ago. Interest in this plant first appeared in the Middle East. At that time, flaxseed began to be used as a product in oil production. Flaxseed was valued not only for its nutritional properties. The consistency, obtained from it, was used as a lamp oil. Flaxseed quickly gained the favor of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and became an irreplaceable helper. Through different ages, these small shiny grains have served as a valuable food, but also as a valuable medicine.

There is a legend that Roman legions often consumed bread, prepared from flaxseed flour. In this way, the soldiers managed to preserve their strength for a long time and to endure tiring battles more easily. Statements about these sympathetic seeds do not end here. According to some claims, Hippocrates himself greatly appreciated the properties of this product. The father of medicine prescribed it, when the patient complained of cough or abdominal pain. It is said about Charlemagne that he insisted that his subordinates eat whole seeds, in order to be sure that they were in good health.

Usually take two to four tablespoons of flax seeds a day. It can be added to other foods, for example, in various types of muesli, salads, pastries, desserts. It is recommended that the seeds be crushed or ground, so that the body can more easily absorb useful substances. Flax seeds can also be consumed in the form of oil. In that case, the recommended daily dose is one spoon.

Flax seed contains many useful ingredients, among which are undoubtedly the most famous omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. Linolenic acid (omega-6) occurs as the main acid in these small seeds. They are a source of omega-9 (oleic acids) fatty acids, proteins, sugars, carotene, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin E and others.

The seeds of the plant Linum usitatissimum are collected when they are fully mature. They are cleaned of debris and placed in a sunny place so that they can dry. A good effect is achieved if a dryer is used. They are usually dried at temperatures up to 45 degrees. Dried seeds are brown in color, with a shiny coating and no special odor. It is slimy when chewed. It is recommended to store in a dark and dry place.


Sesame has been one of the most popular spices for many years. It is a traditional addition to oriental cuisine. Just one teaspoon of sesame can give a person more energy and strength. As it is rich in vitamins, sesame is also very tasty.

Sesame, more precisely sesame seeds, is one of the oldest spices that dates back to 1600 BC. He was also highly valued for his oil, which is hard to burn. “Sesame, open up” (in English sesame means sesame), a famous phrase from the book “1001 Nights”, which perfectly describes sesame when it ripens and when the cocoon opens. The Latin name for sesame is Sesamun indicum.

Sesame is a small, thin and oval seed that has a nutty taste and a delicate aroma. They can be different colors, and it depends on the type of sesame. It can be found in white, yellow, black and red.

Sesame seeds are highly valued for their high oil content, which is very resistant and difficult to spoil.

It is assumed that sesame originates from India, because it is mentioned in Indian legends for the first time as a symbol of immortality. Sesame then spreads from India to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Today, the largest producers of sesame are India, China and Mexico.

Sesame is the basic ingredient of tahini (sesame paste) and sweets, which is characteristic of Central Europe – alva. Sesame is available all year round.

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Sesame is an excellent spice that can be added to various dishes, giving them a full and pleasant taste. Homemade pastries become really irresistible when one or two spoons of sesame are added to them. It combines very well with honey and lemon. Add sesame dough to rolls, pies or cakes. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on cooked vegetables or salads. Make chicken skewers and meat tastier by rolling it in sesame seeds.

Another option to prepare a delicious chicken is to mix sesame seeds with vinegar, honey and garlic, and then coat the chicken with the resulting mixture before baking. You can also bake a little sesame. Put a few tablespoons of sesame seeds in a pan and bake it for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. When baked, sesame is an excellent spice and decoration with various rolls or dishes with rice. You can mix it with mayonnaise or tuna, then spread it on sandwiches.

Not only is it a good source of copper, manganese, sesame is also a very good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and dietary fiber. In addition to these valuable minerals, sesame also contains two unique ingredients – sesamin and sesamolin. Sesame seeds are very rich in zinc and tryptophan. Only a quarter cup of sesame seeds supply the body with 74% of the daily dose of copper, 3% of calcium and 32% of magnesium.

If you buy sesame in the package, pay attention to whether the package is hermetically sealed. Smell the sesame, to make sure it is not spoiled. If the seed is not peeled, it can be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. If it is well peeled, then it can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Poppy seeds

Fine dark blue poppy seeds (Papaver somniferum) are obtained from a type of opium poppy, called oily. Poppy is cultivated in many countries with warm climates, including us. The seeds are small with a whitish or gray color of specific aroma and use in cooking.

Poppy is an annual herbaceous plant. Only poppy seeds are placed in the cabbages that remain when the flower withers. They are mostly used in dried form. The seeds are small, resembling thin hard grains. They have a fine taste of nuts, and their color goes from blue-gray to white or yellow-brown. The blue-grays are about 1 mm long, and the whites are smaller.

Larger poppy seeds are considered European because they are often used on bread, baguettes and desserts. White, which is considered Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian, is used more in the local cuisine. There is very little difference in the tastes of these two types of poppy seeds.

It is believed that the poppy first appeared around the Mediterranean Sea, in India, Turkey and Iran.

Poppy is a species of annual, biennial and perennial plant from the Poppy family (Papaveraceae), and about 100 species are known in the world. They are distributed mainly in the northern hemisphere, and about 8 of them are found in the code. The most widespread in Bulgaria, and not only there, as a weed is the field poppy.

Poppy colors vary from white through red, yellow, orange to blue. Some of the flowers have a darker center. Oil poppy seeds from Asia Minor are used as a spice. Today, the largest producers are the Netherlands and Canada.

The species of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), which is grown for opium production and is not found as a wild plant, has the greatest economic significance. Papaver somniferum is not found as a wild plant and should not be confused with field poppy, which is widespread as a weed among crops and in grassy places throughout Bulgaria.

Opium poppy is grown as an oil crop and raw material for the pharmaceutical industry, and also as a culinary spice.

From immature green seed capsules of opium poppy, milk juice rich in alkaloids, called opium, was obtained. It is a source material for the production of heroin, morphine, codeine and analgesic preparations. Poppy seeds are obtained from fully ripe fruit and do not contain alkaloids.

One beautiful legend says that the poppy seed appeared from Venus’ tears. When Venus lost her beloved Adonis, she cried inconsolably, shedding rivers of tears. Where they fell, the poppy blossomed. That is why even today their petals are easily torn off, like tears. Many superstitions are associated with poppy seeds.

Care from them cite it as a symbol of fertility. In the past, poppies were put on the clothes of newlyweds to give them children. At the same time, the poppy was once anathematized as a sinister beast, as a symbol of sleep (because of opium) and death (because of its blood-red color).

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In Greco-Roman myths, the poppy symbolized imminent death, and when it was light purple, it was a promise of resurrection after death. Later, flowers signified honor, dignity and respect. In the second century, women in Crete cultivated it for opium.

We are used to putting poppy seeds in different pastries – breads, cakes, cookies and as a filling in them. It is important to know that poppy seeds are very difficult to grind, and they cannot be completely absorbed by the organism if they are not ground or at least crumbled.

Poppy seeds are often used in salads and various pastas, but previously baked or left in hot water for more than three hours. When using seeds in salads, it is recommended to bake it beforehand, which makes their taste and aroma stronger. When using poppy seeds when preparing cakes or pies, it is good to be watered with hot water and to stand for 1 to 3 hours before use. Store poppy seeds in a dry and ventilated place.

The fine aroma and taste of poppy seeds, similar to walnuts, is felt after baking or cooking. In the seeds that we use for baked cakes, loaves, pasta fillings, Easter cakes, etc. no narcotics. Poppy is suitable for some types of sauces and meat. Poppy seeds miraculously complement honey spread on bread. It serves as a spice to vegetables and roots and sauces that it spices. Sprinkled over a salad of cabbage, carrots and mayonnaise, it gives a contrast in color and taste.

Try to put poppy seeds when making potatoes with sour cream in dishes in the oven, and sometimes in dishes with fish. In Turkey, it is often present in desserts, in India it is used to thicken sauces, and in Israel, Germany and Slovenian cuisine – when preparing noodles, fish and vegetarian dishes, but also as a supplement to crispy biscuits.

Poppy seeds contain milk juice, rich in alkaloids. It is used as an oil plant that contains up to 55% oil and many alkaloids in the seeds. In poppy seeds, we find low levels of B vitamins and higher levels of sodium and potassium.

Buy well-packaged poppy seeds, on the label of which there is clear information about the producer and shelf life. Store it in a dark and dry place.


Anise is known to us mainly as a spice with a specific taste. It is an annual herbaceous plant, which has been successfully cultivated in our country, and is found in the wild in warmer regions. It grows in large areas in Asia, the whole of Europe, Chile, Japan, etc. Also known as anise, anise, sweet anise, sweet fennel, sweet dill and sweet cumin.

Anise has long been used as a spice and healing agent in traditional medicine. We find information about him in the works of Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder. There is evidence that anise was used in Egypt in 1500 BC. e. The Romans used cakes, seasoned with anise after the use of heavy dishes, and this spread throughout Europe from Roman legions.

Even the Bible mentions paying tithes with anise. In 1305, anise was cited by King Edward I as a taxable remedy, and merchants who came to London paid tribute, which went to repair the London Bridge. The fruits of anise are known as Fructus Anisi.


Fruits that are collected before they ripen are used. After collection, they are left to mature. The fruits are aromatic, sweet-tasting. Dried fruits are two seeds interconnected, up to 5 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, attached to the stalk.

When the Dakans Indians, where anise was very rare, wanted to show strong love for someone, they would give him a handful of anise. It tastes sweet, with a very pleasant smell. The seeds contain mainly fatty oil and proteins, so there is no smell.

There is a difference between 2 types of anise – common anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) and star anise (Illicium verum). Anise is an annual herbaceous, cultivated plant with a straightened cylindrical tree from the celery and primrose family – Apiaceae, while star anise is an evergreen tree, up to 10 m tall and belongs to the Magnolia family.

The unique smell and taste of anise offers its specific use in cooking. Leaves are often used to season salads, and seeds – in confectionery to sprinkle bread, bread, etc. Essential oil and anteolus are used mainly for the preparation of beverages, mainly liqueurs. The fruits are also used to flavor herbal teas.

Anise is a strong kitchen spice and is usually used 1-2 g of fruit for 10 servings. Anise is often seasoned with sauces, meat dishes, small cakes or used to sprinkle breads and other pastries, to prepare anise drinks (anise brandy). The fruits are also used as a spice when preparing sterilized fresh cucumbers. It combines well with cloves, nutmeg, ginger.

It is important to know that anise seeds lose their smell quickly, so buy whole seeds, not ground. Store them in an airtight container, in a dark room or closets. As a last resort, put them in paper bags.

Anise is a plant from the cumin and spice family. The seeds of the plant are especially rich in essential oils and fats. The fruits contain polysaccharides, proterins, levacoanthocyanidins, up to 30% fatty oil, 2-3% (in some varieties it can have up to 6%) essential oil with the main ingredient anethole (80-90%). In addition to anethole, it also contains small amounts of methylhavicol, anicaledihide, anisketone and aniseed.

The fruits contain 8-28% of fatty oil, protein, sugar, mucus, about 10% of mineral salts and others. In the fruits of anise, we find fats – 10-30% choline, 20% protein, vitamin C (up to 140 mg%), vitamin P (rutin-120 mg%), sugars, coumarins and a significant amount of trace elements.

Anise fruits and their liquid, almost colorless essential oil have the same smell and taste as star anise, which is proof of a similar chemical composition.

The essential oil of ordinary anise also has properties that are not found in the essential oil obtained from star anise – aniseketone, cumanaldehyde, acetaldehyde, etc. Anethole in the essential oil of common anise is up to 90%. The feature of the oil is that it is extremely sensitive when it comes to storage. If not stored properly, it dimerizes to dianethole, which is thought to have estrogenic properties.

During the formation of divanatol, the essential oil becomes poisonous. That is why anise oil should be kept in a dark and cool place in well-closed containers for up to 2 years. Under the influence of air and sunlight during heating, it acquired a dark color and an unpleasant taste.

Whole, but also ground anise seeds can be found on the market. You can preserve the smell of spices for up to one year, if you store it in hermetically sealed jars, placed in a dry and cool place.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is actually a popular chili, which is considered the hottest pepper in the world. The degree of hot taste of cayenne pepper depends on the type and place where it is grown. This anger is measured on a special scale – from 1 to 120. On the same scale are measured and color, aroma and degree of sharpness.

The birthplace of cayenne pepper is considered to be Tropical America. In the beginning, the inhabitants used it as a decorative plant, but later cayenne paper entered culinary and traditional medicine, because it is rich in valuable ingredients. The name of this “angry friend” comes from the port city of Cayenne.

The color of cayenne pepper varies from green to yellow and dark red, and the size is between 2 and 20 cm. Nowadays, large producers of cayenne pepper are some areas in West Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, California, Guyana, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

Red or yellow chili is several times hotter than green, known as piperone. The most delicious part of cayenne pepper is the seeds, and therefore, before adding it to a culinary specialty, it is desirable to carefully remove them. Otherwise, they are able to literally inflame you with anger and burn the mucous membrane of the esophagus.

When cleaning them, do not forget to wash your hands constantly, and in no case do not touch your eyes, because there is a serious risk of blindness. It is an interesting fact, and it is not accidental, that tear gas is made on the basis of cayenne pepper.

The substance contained in chili – capsaicin, which gives it a specific spicy taste, significantly lowers blood sugar levels. This is a precondition for the pharmacy to look for variants for the application of the substance in the preparation of preparations, which would be used for the treatment of diabetes. This fact was proven by an experiment on dogs, which, after taking capsaicin, showed lower glucose levels.

During the winter day, it is a good idea to prepare mulled wine with exotic spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cayenne pepper. Cayenne paprika is used fresh, ground and dried. Use it very carefully because it is very angry. Everyone who likes more spicy and spicy food, highly appreciates cayenne pepper, and often adds it to various sauces, and in the preparation of meat and vegetable dishes.

Cayenne paprika perfectly complements the taste of beef, pork and fish, vegetable soups and meat soups. It is part of many sauces, in the so-called. Tabasco sauces, chili, ketchup, etc. Even many people’s favorite curry spice is very often prepared with cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper gives dishes a specific and fresh, slightly bitter aroma. Very often cayenne pepper is put in some types of sweets, and especially in creams and mousses.

The most popular active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. After it, in importance, is the plant form of vitamin A – beta carotene.

Beta carotene makes cayenne pepper a strong antioxidant. It has a high activity in removing free radicals. Just one dose of cayenne extract provides enough carotene to synthesize one-third of the daily dose of vitamin A.

Cayenne pepper can be bought in specialized spice shops. Store it in a well-closed container, in dry and dark places.