The number of herbs and spice-producing plants that grows naturally in Greece is impressive. Generations of Greek cooks have focused in on many that have become essentials of traditional Greek cooking. However, recent years have seen an increase in imported herbs and spices, some of which have become immediately popular, while others less so. Herbs and spices can be found fresh and dried, flaked and whole, as leaves and stems, as seeds, in pods, and other variations.
For authentic Greek cooking, use fresh herbs whenever possible. If dried are necessary, the conversion rate is generally figured at 1 teaspoon of dried to 1 tablespoon of fresh.
- Note: If the herb is available in dried leaves, this is always a good choice instead of ground dried herbs because more of the taste and aroma are retained in the leaf pieces. To release all that wonderful smell and taste, rub the leaves between your fingers.
Spices should be kept in airtight glass jars. To get the most out of your spices, there are three utensils you should have in your kitchen:
- A pepper mill with adjustable grind size.
- A mortar and pestle.
- A spice grater.
Because of the many herbs and spices used on a daily basis, there's no one herb or spice that defines Greek cooking. The following pages include lists of herbs and spices, both native to Greece and imported, found most often in recipes for Greek food.
The lists include the English name of each herb or spice, the Greek alliteration (Greek word in English letters), pronunciation guide, and the Greek name.