Winter savory (Satureja montana)

Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe.

It is a semi-evergreen, semi-woody subshrub growing to over 230 cm (7.5 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, 1–2 cm long and 5 mm broad. The flowers are white.
 
Easy to grow, it makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. It requires six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well. S. montana ‘Nana’ is a dwarf cultivar.
 
Winter savory is now little used, but for hundreds of years both it and Summer savory have been grown and used, virtually side by side. Both have strong spicy flavour.
 
n cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffing. It has a strong flavour while uncooked but loses much of its flavour under prolonged cooking. It may also be used medicinally, it is a stimulant, and is also a known aphrodisiac.
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Vanilla planifolia

Dried vanilla pods (beans) are long and black, encasing hundreds of tiny black seeds.  Natural vanilla extract is distilled from vanilla pods and is a useful alternative to pods. Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla used today. When choosing pure vanilla, check to make sure the color is clear, it is pure, synthetic vanillin, and is also called crystal vanilla. A dark, murky color is also synthetic vanillin, probably ethyl vanillin derived from coal tar. The dark color may be due to a red dye that has been banned in the US or a caramel coloring. A true amber color is an indication of natural vanilla. Also check the alcohol content: Synthetic products have either no alcohol or up to 2% alcohol. Some vanilla-vanillin blends may have 25% alcohol. Price: Vanilla is extremely labor intensive to produce. If you paid $20.00 for a big bottle (even in Mexico), is not pure vanilla extract. How to store: Extracts can be stored indefinitely in a sealed airtight container kept in a cool dark place. Do not refrigerate vanilla extract. Goes well with apples, apricots, chocolate, custards, fish, fruit, ice cream, plums, shellfish.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Other Names: Yellow Ginger, Indian Saffron

Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Low cholesterol, Cancer and HIV
Arthritis
 
Turmeric: (spice)  Orange colored roots (rhizomes) of a member of the ginger family. Provides color for prepared mustards, curry powder, mayonnaise, sauces, pickles, relishes.
Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. 

Turmeric powder should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric rhizome should be kept in the refrigerator. If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying and then grinding it into a fine consistency. Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color. Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander. Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils. Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them

 

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme: (herb)  Grayish green leaves of a member of the mint family. 

 
The leaves are stems of a shrub grown in France and Spain.  Has a strong, distinctive flavor.  A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes. Both fresh and dried thyme is available in your local supermarket throughout the year. Fresh thyme should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Dried thyme should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months. Thyme, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. Add thyme to your favorite pasta sauce recipe. Fresh thyme adds a wonderful fragrance to omelets and scrambled eggs. Hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme. When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid. Season soups and stocks by adding fresh thyme.

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

Tarragon:  (herb)  Slender, dark green leaves of a member of the aster family.

 
This fragrant herb has a strong aniseed flavor and is most often paired with fish and chicken dishes. Tarragon is commonly known as a flavoring for vinegar and is used in pickles, relishes, prepared mustards, and sauces. Tarragon also goes well with fish, meat, soups and stews, and is often used in tomato and egg dishes. Tarragon adds distinctive flavor to sauces. Tarragon adds flavor to egg and cheese dishes, light soups and fresh fruits. To baste chicken, fish or seafood, blend Tarragon with butter, chives, and lemon.

 

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)

Other Names: Tamarindo, Indian Date

Medicinal Uses: Laxative, Digestive aid, Wounds, Sore throat, Ulcers, Liver disease
 
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) ‎, romanized tamar hind, “Indian date”) is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic (having only a single species).
 
The tamarind is a long-lived, medium-growth, bushy tree which attains a maximum crown height of 12.1 to 18.3 metres (40 to 60 feet). The crown has an irregular, vase-shaped outline of dense foliage. The tree grows well in full sun in clay, loam, sandy, and acidic soil types, with a high drought and aerosol salt (wind-borne salt as found in coastal area) resistance.
 
Leaves are evergreen, bright green in colour, elliptical ovular, arrangement is alternate, of the pinnately compound type, with pinnate venation and less than 5 cm (2 inches) in length. The branches droop from a single, central trunk as the tree matures and is often pruned in human agriculture to optimize tree density and ease of fruit harvest. At night, the leaflets close up.
The tamarind does flower, though inconspicuously, with red and yellow elongated flowers. Flowers are 2.5 cm wide (one inch), five-petalled, borne in small racemes, and yellow with orange or red streaks. Buds are pink as the four sepals are pink and are lost when the flower blooms.
 
The fruit is an indehiscent legume, sometimes called a pod, 12 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) in length, with a hard, brown shell. The fruit has a fleshy, juicy, acidulous pulp. It is mature when the flesh is coloured brown or reddish-brown. The tamarinds of Asia have longer pods containing six to 12 seeds, whereas African and West Indian varieties have short pods containing one to six seeds. The seeds are somewhat flattened, and glossy brown.
 
The fruit pulp is edible. The hard green pulp of a young fruit is considered by many to be too sour and acidic, but is often used as a component of savory dishes, as a pickling agent or as a means of making certain poisonous yams in Ghana safe for human consumption.
 
The ripened fruit is considered the more palatable, as it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic) as it matures. It is used in desserts as a jam, blended into juices or sweetened drinks, sorbets, ice creams and all manner of snacks. It is also consumed as a natural laxative.

 

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)

Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata is a plant native to central Europe. It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves with small white flowers produced in large umbels. The seeds are slender and broad.

Its leaves are used as a herb, with a rather strong taste reminiscent of anise; it is used mainly in Germany andScandinavia. Like its relatives anise, fennel, and caraway, it can also be used to flavor akvavit. Its essential oils are dominated by anethole.
Toss unripe seeds which have a sweet flavor and nutty texture into fruit salads. Chop into ice cream. Toss ripe seeds into cooked dishes such as apple pie or use crushed. The seeds are what are used to flavor chartreuse liqueur.
The leaves of sweet cicely can be chopped fine and stirred into salad dressings and omelettes.They can also be added to cream for a sweeter and less fatty taste. Leaves may also be added to soups and boiled cabbage.
The roots can be chopped and peeled and served raw with salad dressing. Or they may be cooked as a root vegetable and served with butter.

Sumac (Rhus coriara)

Other Names: Sumach, Sicilian Sumac, Tanner’s Sumach, Sumak

Medicinal Uses: Bowel conditions, Cold, flu and fever, Water retention, Headaches, Kidney anemia
 
Sumac  also spelled sumach  is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America.
 
Sumacs are shrubs and small trees that can reach a height of 1–10 metres (3.3–33 ft). The leaves are spirally arranged; they are usually pinnately compound, though some species have trifoliate or simple leaves. The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 centimetres (2.0–12 in) long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy purple spice.
 
Sumacs propagate both by seed (spread by birds and other animals through their droppings), and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.
The word sumac traces its etymology from Old French sumac (13th century), from Medieval Latin sumach, from Arabic summāq (سماق), from Syriac summāq – meaning “red.”
 
The fruits (drupes) of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. In Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and is added to salads in the Levant. In Iranian (Persian and Kurdish) cuisine, sumac is added to rice or kebab. In Turkish cuisine, it is added to salad-servings of kebabs and lahmacun. Rhus coriaria is used in the spice mixture za’atar.
In North America, the Smooth Sumac (R. glabra) and the Staghorn Sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed “sumac-ade,” “Indian lemonade” or “rhus juice”. This drink is made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth and sweetening it. Native Americans also used the leaves and drupes of the Smooth and Staghorn Sumacs combined with tobacco in traditional smoking mixtures.
 
The leaves of certain sumacs yield tannin (mostly pyrogallol-type), a substance used in vegetable tanning. Notable sources include the leaves of R. coriaria, Chinese gall on R. chinensis, and wood and roots of R. pentaphylla. Leather tanned with sumac is flexible, light in weight, and light in color. One type of leather made with sumac tannins is morocco leather.
 
Sumac was used as a treatment for half a dozen different ailments in medieval medicine, primarily in Islamic countries (where sumac was more readily available than in Europe). An 11th-century shipwreck off the coast of Rhodes, excavated by archeologists in the 1970s, contained commercial quantities of sumac drupes. These could have been intended for use as medicine, or as a culinary spice, or as a dye.

Star Anise (Illicium Verum)

Other Names: Chinese Anise, Anise Stars, Badain

Medicinal Uses: Diuretic, Colic, Flatulence, Rheumatism, Digestive aid
 
Star Anise:  (spice) Large, brown, star-shaped fruit of an evergreen tree. Each point contains a seed; whole fruit is used. Anise like flavor.  Old-time pickling favorite.
 
llicium verum, commonly called Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening.
 
Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient which gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano. It is also used in the production of sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. In India it is used as an ingredient of masala chai.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

Also known as sweet stevia. The US FDA once banned the sale of stevia products in 1991, but 3 years later approved their sale as dietary supplements. Stevia cannot be sold for use as a tabletop sweetener, which is considered a conventional food.

Stevia is an herb from a semitropical perennial shrub of the daisy family, native to the mountains of Brazil and Paraguay. This plant packs so much sweetness into its leaves that they can be used in place of sugar.
One dried leaf, ground, is 10 to 15 times sweeter than an equal amount of sugar, and powdered extracts made from the leaves are up to 300 times as sweet, without the calories (make that no calories!). Plus it is a very attractive plant that pots well.
Nonetheless, people can buy stevia powder and use it as a sugar replacement at home. One fresh stevia leaf is enough to sweeten a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of lemonade. The leaves can be added to barbecue sauce, salad dressings, soups, and stews.