Specialty Seasoning Mixtures – Adding Zest To Your Cooking
Specialty seasoning mixtures are great concoctions of herb and spice blends that add that extra special touch to just about any recipe, they come from all over the world and are classics that are used to create truly international dishes.
Although the blending of spices is an art and even a science, if you know how to combine the right herbs and spices together taking into account each individual herb or spice’s particular characteristics, anyone can create their own herb and spice specialty seasoning mixtures.
Creating a good spice blend is more than just throwing a bit of this herb and a bit of that spice together, because if the mixture is not compatible over time you may have something that is different in both aroma and taste from what you originally created, which is why creating a specialty blend is both an art and a science.
Spices can be grouped into five categories: sweet, pungent, tangy, hot and amalgamating.
The sweet spices are those that have varying degrees of sweetness and tend to be components in sweet foods such as puddings, cakes and pies. Some of those spices that fall into the category of sweet spices are:
• Allspice; Aniseed; Cinnamon; Nutmeg; Vanilla
When creating a mixture that contains a sweet spice it is recommended that as a starting point 2 teaspoons of the sweet spice should be added to the mix even relative to other sweet spices and as you become more familiar with how spices taste in combination with each other, then you can go on to create your own proportions to suit your tastes.
The pungent spices are those that characterized by their aroma and contribute a tantalizing smell to the mixture and to whatever dish they become part of. Among the pungent spices are:
• Caraway; Cardamom; Celery seed; Cloves; Cumin; Dill seed; Ginger; Licorice root; Mace; Pink pepper
For pungent spices ½ teaspoon is a good starting measure to add to specialty seasoning mixtures.
Spices that are considered tangy spices are those that contribute an astringent taste to the blend like what would be achieved by adding lemon juice to some dishes and tangy spices are used to balance the sweetness of some spices in a mixture. Tangy spices include:
• Tamarind (which it is not recommended to add to a spice mixture since it doesn’t mix well with other dry spices and is thus added directly to the dish at the cooking stage)
The recommended measure for tangy spices is 1 teaspoon as a starting measure for addition to a mixture of spices.
Hot spices are familiar to just about everyone and often overused leading many to conclude that they don’t like food with hot spices. These spices should be used in very small amounts and when used correctly can provide a stimulating taste to a dish that not only stimulates the taste buds, but is also physiologically stimulating releasing endorphins that are a feel good chemical, actually providing a sense of well being. Spices that are part of the hot spices include:
• Chili; Horseradish; Mustard; Pepper
These spices should be used in a very small measure of ¼ teaspoon when added to a mixture.
Spices that are considered amalgamating spices are those that can balance out a spice mixture if too much of another spice is used, since these are mild spices and serve to tone down the effect of other stronger spices that could if used too heavily could overwhelm and even ruin a mixture. Some spices that are considered amalgamating spices are:
• Coriander seed; Fennel seed; Paprika; Poppy seed; Sesame seed; Turmeric
For addition to spice mixtures a good starting measure for amalgamating spices is 5 teaspoons.
These various measures of the five groups are those that are commonly found in spice blends and once again are only starting points for anyone who wants to experiment with creating their own mixtures.
Specialty seasoning mixtures also include herbs and they are classified as mild, medium, strong, and pungent.
Mild herbs include:
• Chervil; Parsley
These mild herbs should be added to seasoning mixtures in a measure of 5 teaspoons as a starting point.
Medium herbs include:
These medium herbs should be added to the mix in a measure of 2 teaspoons to start.
Strong herbs include:
• Basil; Coriander leaf; Curry leaf; Dill; Fennel; Lemongrass; Mint; Marjoram; Tarragon
These strong herbs should be added to seasoning mixtures in a measure of 1 teaspoon.
Pungent herbs include:
• Bay leaf; Garlic; Oregano; Rosemary; Sage; Savory; Thyme
These pungent herbs should be added to the mix in a measure of ½ teaspoon.
For tips on creating your own specialty seasoning mixtures click on the link to ehow.com
Try some of the following recipes for seasoning mixtures to get started and then customize to create your own.
Specialty Seasoning Mixtures Recipes
Apple Pie Seasoning
Carolina Barbeque Rub
Kansas City Rub
Cajun Blackening Spices
Chile Powder Blend
Chinese Five Spice Powder
Herbes de Provence
For some great sections on herbs and spices including specialty seasoning mixtures some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• Herbs & Spices – the cook’s reference by Jill Norman
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
• Cajun Clark’s Cookbooks
Share Your Herb and Spice Blend Recipe
Do you have a favorite blend of herbs and spices that you like to use in cooking or do you have a different version of one of the special seasoning mixtures on this site?
Want to share your special recipe? Tell us about it right here.
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