Herbs & Spices
Historically, spices were some of the most valuable items of trade in the ancient and medieval world. A handful of cardamom was worth as much as a poor man’s yearly wages.
According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, spices are defined as “a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance”. An herb is generally classified as the green, leafy part of the plant, and sometimes the flower.
The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) defines spices as “any dried plant product used primarily for seasoning purposes”. Included are tropical aromatics (pepper, cinnamon, cloves, etc), leafy herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, etc), spice seeds (sesame, poppy, mustard, etc) and dehydrated vegetables (onions, garlic, etc).
Store spices in covered containers and avoid long periods at high temperatures. The recommended shelf life for crushed and ground spices is approximately one year, and varies according to oil content. For more information on storing your spices, see our reference page in this section, on Storage and Handling of Spices.
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