All about herbs, spices and vanilla

 Spices

Have you ever come across an ingredient when reading a recipe but don't know exactly what it is? Or have you bought something at the market but don't really know what to do with it? Then you'll want to bookmark The Kitchn's A to Z guide to herbs, spices, and blends.

Their list has been compiled to help you understand dried herbs and spices, fresh herbs, and even spice blends. With this guide you'll be able to tell your Gochugaru (Korean red pepper spice that is hot, sweet, and ever-so-slightly smoky) from your Loomi - (made from ground dried limes, it adds sour kick to many Middle Eastern dishes).

The guide includes common herbs and spices as well, like cloves, described as a "sweet and warming spice. Used most often in baking, but also good with braised meat," and fenugreek, which gets this mention "Although this herb smells like maple syrup while cooking, it has a rather bitter, burnt sugar flavor." Spice blends get the same treatment, with descriptions for everything from Bebere (which includes hot peppers, black pepper, fenugreek, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves, among other ingredients) to Za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice composed of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds).

And as long as you're getting to know your ingredients, you can take a deep dive into vanilla on David Lebovitz's blog. He explains the difference between the three different "origins" of vanilla that are available (Bourbon, Tahitian and Mexican), as well as advice on how to store vanilla beans and how to make your own vanilla extract.

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