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salad dressing ingredients

Organic herbs and spices are Mother Nature’s versatile gifts. Herbs are the leaves; basil, thyme, and cilantro are good examples. Spices are the twigs, stems, roots, and seeds such as garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.

Fresh basil in the organic garden

Before adding herbs and spices to a dish, smell or taste them to make sure they are fragrant and potent. Dried herbs can be stored for about a year, spices longer.  Generally, you can add hearty spices in the beginning of cooking a dish. Delicate herbs, whether fresh or dry, are added at the end of cooking.

Every culture has its blend of sweet, sour and pungent flavored herbs and spices. Paired with beans, grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, wines, and cheeses; herbs and spices deliver ethnic flair, support our health, and reduce our need for salt. As garnishes, herbs whet our appetite with a stylish hint of what is to come.

Various herbs and spices cross borders and appear in more than one ethnic cuisine. Ginger is common in Indian, African and Asian dishes. Dill is a regular in Eastern European, Indian, Mediterranean and French cooking. Cumin is standard in African, French, Indian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine. These herbs and spices called carminatives aid digestion. They contain volatile oils that absorb intestinal gas, relax stomach muscles, increase peristalsis and reduce flatulence. Thyme, cinnamon, fennel, chilies, anise, caraway, cardamom, mint, and turmeric are also carminatives. Before scientists could explain their restorative virtues, cooks worldwide intuitively cooked with these herbs and spices.

Reprinted from Going Wild in the Kitchen by Leslie Cerier, (c) 2005, Square One Publishers, Inc. Used by permission.


Photography by Tracey Eller



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  • Andrea

    Great article, I’m glad you detail the difference between what and herb is as opposed to a spice right off the bat as that is commonly confused.

    I only wish it would mention the importance of using organically grown herbs and spices like what can be found on I feel it is best for our own health and that of Mother Nature, too, to be respectful and not pollute our bodies or our land with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. Natural pest solutions are the only choice in my garden and I want my world to be clean and healthy for the sake of future generations!

    • Leslie

      Thanks Andrea,

      I agree that organic herbs and spices are delicious and healthful. I always grow, and cook with organic herbs and spices. Even the wild crafted herbs such as nettles that I use are picked and sourced from pristine areas and companies that support these sustainable practices.

      best regards
      Leslie Cerier, The Organic Gourmet

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