Being able to classify by varieties and types of spices is a fairly broad issue. In the first place, because they can be categorized in many different ways: By their presentation, by their origin or even by their properties, among many other ways of establishing types.
One of the main points of debate that exists in the world of spices is whether aromatic and medicinal herbs are considered spices. Due to their own characteristics, they should be considered as such, since the definition of what spices are “vegetable substances that are used in small quantities to give an extraordinary flavor to food”. However, within the world of spice mill, they are always categorized as if they were not.
To resolve some of the doubts, in this article we are going to tell you what are the types of spices through which we can qualify these extraordinary condiments.
Types of spices by presentation
Perhaps it is one of the easiest ways to categorize spices, since at a glance we can see if it is one or the other. In this sense, we must clarify that there are different presentations or formats of spices: whole, ground, in seeds, in leaves, in a branch or pod.
Whole spices are those that, either in seeds, berries, leaves, branches, pods… are presented and can be used like this. This type of spice is characterized by the fact that it is usually somewhat more aromatic than the ground one and that it is preferable to buy them that way because they can always be ground. Many recipes call for using the spice directly whole, without grinding it. This is sometimes due to purely aesthetic reasons, although this is not always the case.
Ground spices are those that are characterized by being powdered for use in our recipes. To grind the spices, although there are exceptions with hard-shelled spices, a grinder is usually used. Powdered spices are much more manageable than whole spices and give more flavor to dishes.
Types Of Spices By Origin
In this sense, categorizing spices by their origin is as extensive as we want to focus. When we refer to the origin, we can talk about the origin of the spices from a specific country or even from a region or continent. But we can also be referring to the origin through which we obtain the spice of a plant: fruits, berries, leaves, roots.
The vast majority of the most popular spices, such as pepper, cinnamon, cloves or ginger, come from all over tropical Asia.
Spices such as allspice, vanilla or hot chilies come from America but also from India.
Aromatic seeds such as coriander seeds, fenugreek, anise or mustard have their origin in the Mediterranean area.
Other spices such as dill, juniper berries or caraway come from cooler areas.
Spices By Origin
- Spices in seeds, berries or fruits.
- In leaves, bark or shells.
- In roots or in branch.
- In essential oil.
Types Of Spices By Their Properties
When establishing the types of spices by their properties, they can be categorized, fundamentally, by two conditions: by their uses and by their flavor.
Types Of Spices By Their Uses
Spices with culinary uses:
Which are all those that are used to provide a different and exceptional flavor and aroma to recipes. In this sense, it is important to be clear that all spices, being natural products, are a source of important properties, vitamins and minerals. However, this group would include those whose strong point is their culinary qualities.
Spices with medicinal uses:
They are those that, although it is true that they can be used in the preparation of meals, are used mainly for the therapeutic properties they offer.
Categories by Flavor
- Hot spices
- Sweet spices
- Sweet and sour spices
- Bitter spices