Herbs differ from spices in that herbs are the leaves of certain plants. Spices are the buds, fruits, flowers, bark, seeds and roots of plants and trees.
The distinction can be confusing. What's more important is knowing how to use them and which ingredients they pair well with.
Store spices in a cool place, tightly covered, away from heat, light, and moisture. Whole spices keep longer than ground, but both lose flavor after about six months.
Fresh herbs should be stored either standing in water in the refrigerator or refrigerated without water in a zip-top plastic bag.
- Juniper Berries. Spice. Whole. Slightly soft purple berries with a piney flavor. Used in marinades, game dishes, sauerkraut and to flavor gin.
- Mace. Spice. Whole, ground. The outer casing of nutmeg. Similar in flavor to nutmeg. Used in baked goods, desserts, fruits, sausages, pork, fish, spinach, squash, other vegetables, eggs, cheese, chocolate.
- Marjoram. Herb. Fresh, dried, flakes. Pleasant aroma, slightly minty flavor, similar to oregano but milder. Used in ground meats, lamb, poultry, fish, sauces, cheese, eggs, vegetables.
Recipes using marjoram include:
- Mint. Herb. Fresh, dried, ground. Aromatic, cool flavor in peppermint and spearmint varieties. Used in lamb, fruits, tea and other beverages, peas, carrots, potatoes, jelly, sauces, relishes, as garnish.
- Mustard Seed. Spice. Whole, ground. Pungent in yellow and brown varieties. Used in pickles and relishes, salad dressings, egg and cheese dishes, dips, spreads, meats, sauces, and gravies.
- Nutmeg. Spice. Whole, ground. Warm, sweet, aromatic flavor. Used in soups, cream sauces, chicken, veal, vegetables, desserts, custards, breads, pastries, as a garnish for beverages.
- Paprika. Ground form of a dried sweet or hot red pepper. Spanish is brighter but milder. Hungarian is darker and more pungent. Used in goulash, braised meats and poultry, sauces, cheese, salad dressings, dips, as garnish.
Recipes using paprika include:
- Parsley, Curly. Herb. Has less flavor than flat-leaf parsley and is used mainly for garnish.
- Parsley, Flat-Leaf. Herb. Fresh leaves or stems, dried flakes. This is the most widely used herb, often called Italian parsley. Delicate, sweet flavor. Used in almost all foods and as garnish.
Recipes using flat-leaf parsley include:
- Pepper, Black. Spice. Whole, cracked, ground. This is the most widely used spice. Pungent flavor and aroma. Used in most main dishes, sauces, and gravies, salads, salad dressings, snacks, appetizers, pickles.
Recipes using black peppercorns include:
- Pepper, Red. Ground form of hot red peppers. Very spicy. Used in main dishes, sauces, gravies, salads, salad dressings, snacks, appetizers, pickles, soups, meat, fish, egg, cheese dishes.
- Pepper, White. Spice. Whole, cracked, ground. The core of the pepper berry. More pronounced flavor than black pepper and must be used with a light hand.
- Poppy seed. Spice. Whole. Tiny blue-black seeds with faint but distinctive flavor. Used in breads, rolls, buttered noodles, salad dressings, snack foods, ground in pastries.
Recipes using poppy seeds include: