The Difference between Herbs and Spices

various spices on old wooden table

Pre-ground refers to spices and herbs that are fine ground before you purchase them.

Usually spices are the stalks, seeds, pods, roots, bark or berries of plants in tropical areas, whereas herbs are leaves of plants growing in more temperate zones. This is not always the case however as these are culinary terms, not scientific terms.

As far as Mrs Rogers is concerned, both types are only completely natural flavouring agents of plant origin, with no additives.

Pre-Ground Spices And Herbs:
Pre-ground refers to spices and herbs that are fine ground before you purchase them. Pre-ground Herbs & Spices are a quick & convenient alternative to grinding or crushing whole herbs & spices. Add late in the cooking process to retain maximum flavour.

Whole Spices
Whole spices are still in their original condition as collected from the plant, and only subjected to expertly supervised drying methods without the aid of chemicals. They remain ‘packaged’ the way nature meant them to be with all their volatile oils intact when you buy them. Therefore buying whole or large pieces of spice guarantees you the truly natural flavour. To release the flavour of the whole spices you need a prolonged cooking time, which often destroys much of the natural flavour. The other method is to grind the whole spice to release the full flavour without unnecessary cooking.

Dried Herbs
Dried herbs are fresh leaves, specially dried within hours of cropping, in a way to drive off moisture without touching the volatile oils. This greatly improves the flavour, and results in a stable article that will withstand earlier immersion in the cooking process and with more pleasing results. Bearing in mind the large volume of fresh leaves required to fill a jar of dried herbs, they offer excellent value. You are also buying from professional spice traders who are obtaining their supplies from the best growing regions in the world, to ensure quality.

Fresh Herbs & Spices
Fresh herbs and spices are the leaves and parts of growing plants, some of which you can grow in your garden or purchase fresh from your supermarket. They undoubtedly provide the best flavour if used uncooked. They come into their own especially when used as a garnish. Many fresh herbs & spices are not only difficult to buy but will quickly deteriorate as they are already a day or two old when you buy them. All this makes them expensive to use. Also their character will mostly be lost during cooking.

To get the best from your herbs & spices, the best solution is to add freshly ground spice or herbs as you require them. Mrs Rogers
Getting the Best from Herbs & Spices
The best practicable solution is to add freshly ground spice or herbs as you require them. This has almost the same effect as using fresh spice & herbs because the grinding process releases the volatile oils that themselves contain all the natural character carefully preserved. The flavour is retained more fully in cooking than when using fresh herbs.

All you need is to have a basic range of the natural dried herbs & whole spices on your shelf ready to use. Just put into your favourite peppermill the required amount of spice for grinding. Or use our small convenient grinders which come already filled.

Storage
Direct exposure to heat will affect aroma, and exposure to light will affect colour. The ideal storage place is inside a cupboard, not on a traditional spice rack or in an exposed place. Lids should be tight to prevent loss of volatile oils and spices purchased in small quantities. Contents will need checking occasionally for freshness by sniffing, especially the more delicate flavours. Once the aroma has disappeared it is false economy to persevere with their use as the flavour will also have deteriorated and it is better to discard old spices. Any serious supplier will have rotating fresh stocks and it is wise to follow this practice in your own kitchen.

How to use Herbs and Spices

The strength of the flavour of your herbs and spices is not necessarily in proportion to the amount used.

The strength of the flavour of your herbs and spices is not necessarily in proportion to the amount used.

As a rule, ground spice has the characteristic of giving up flavour quickly. Therefore this requires it to be added towards the end of the cooking. For cold food, dressings, dips, add several hours before serving to allow for the full development of the flavour.

Whole spices require moisture and heat to soften the cell walls before the flavour can be released. For the most rounded flavour they require adding to casserole dishes from the beginning, and if preferred, removed before serving. For grills or roasting, rub into the surface of the meat or fish before cooking.

A long slow cooking time in a sealed dish will develop the best rounded flavour. However we often cannot indulge in such methods. If you are using an open dish cooking method, be aware that with exposure to heat many of the essential oils evaporate, drastically depleting the effect. You need to understand these processes so you do not spice too heavily or too lightly. The strength of the flavour is not necessarily in proportion to the amount used.