Palm Sugar: A Healthier Sweet

Palm Sugar

Palm sugar is made from the saps of various palm trees. The species of palm used depends on the region in which the sugar is being made.

In the Canary Islands, syrup made from the sap of the palm tree was in use well before the arrival of Europeans. The islands’ inhabitants harvest the sap from the trees and reduce it in large pots over wood-fired stoves. It is during this process that palm sugar takes on its distinctive taste. It also acquires a dark brown coloration and a consistency similar to that of honey. It can be boiled further until it becomes hard and rock-like. This method of making palm sugar is similar to the production methods used in all regions where palm sugar made and consumed.

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Table Salt: A Fundamental Flavor With A Long History

table salt

Salt has been a popular condiment for most of human history, and for much of that time it has not been nearly as inexpensive and as easy to find as it is now.

Ancient Egyptians used salt as a part of their religious offerings and the Ancient Greeks used it as currency. In Ancient Greece, slaves could be purchased for salt. The practice gave rise to the expression “not worth his salt.” It held the same value as gold in Ancient Rome. In the Roman Republic’s early years, it was responsible for the city’s growth with roads being constructed to ease its transportation. Similarly, it has been an important commodity in China for more than 2,000 years; it was one of the factors in the growth of China’s ancient empires.

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Vanilla: A Flavor From Orchids

vanilla

Like chili peppers, vanilla comes from South and Central America, as well as from the Caribbean. It is one of the thousands of orchid species.

Historians believe that the first people to cultivate it were the early dwellers on the east coast of Mexico called the Totonacs. The Totonacs were conquered by the Aztecs, who got their vanilla before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century.

The Aztecs flavored their chocolate with vanilla and so did the Spaniards once they grew accustomed to the taste. As a result, Europeans considered vanilla to be nothing more than a flavoring for chocolate for decades. Only in the 17th century did the use of vanilla without chocolate become popular. In England, Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed sweetmeats flavored with vanilla. By the 18th century, the French were making ice cream flavored with vanilla.

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Horseradish Powder: A Central European Spice

Horseradish Powder

Horseradish powder is made with dried horseradish root that has been ground into powder.

Horseradish is believed to come from Central Europe. Its name in English is thought to refer to the large size of the root and its coarseness. Horseradish was used by the ancient Egyptians. Records indicate that they were using it as early as 1500 BC. The Greek Ancient Greeks knew about horseradish as well and used it for its medicinal benefits.

During the Renaissance, the popularity of horseradish spread north from Central Europe to the Scandinavian countries and west to England. In England, the spice was consumed only by the working classes and rural folk at first. It would eventually become popular among all classes of the English. In addition to being used as the standard spice for beef dishes, cordials made with it would become popular for their energizing benefits.

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Onion Salt: A Simple Savory Seasoning Blend

onion salt

Onions have been a part of the human diet for over four millennia. For much of that time, they have been preserved by drying. Onions are believed to have originated in Asia, but the earliest documentation of it came from Egypt where it shows up in the carvings on pyramid walls. Onions would make their way to Germany and the British Isles via the Roman army and would be a staple of European cuisine all through the middle ages. Onions were among the first plants brought to the Americas by European colonists.

Onion salt is a relatively new invention. It showed up in the early part of the 20th century. The Coffee and Tea Industries and the Flavor Field: Volume 37 published in 1914 refers to it as a “new seasoning.” Onion salt was first marketed as a way to provide all the seasoning power of onion without any negative effects on the consumer’s breath.

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Arrowroot: A Caribbean Starch

Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a name given to the Maranta arundinacea plant, but the term has been expanded to include cassava and other plants in recent years.

There is evidence of arrowroot cultivation going back 7,000 years. According to folklore, the name is said to have originated from Maranta arundinacea’s use as a treatment for the inflammation of wounds caused by poisoned arrows. It is also said to come from the Arawak Indians’ name for the plant, which was aru aru. Arrowroot was used by slicing it and applying the slices to the wounds.

It is believed that the arrowroot was brought to the Caribbean islands by Native Americans from South America at some point prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

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