Mustard Powder: Ancient And Versatile

Mustard Powder

Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used mustard to flavor meat and fish. They would mix crushed mustard grains in with their food to enhance its flavor. The early Romans also used mustard pastes that were similar to the prepared mustards that we use today. These pastes consisted of ground mustard mixed with wine. Mustard was also considered a medicine as well as a condiment. Sixth century scientist Pythagoras recommended mustard for treating scorpion stings. Charlemagne would encourage the spice’s cultivation throughout his realm. It would eventually spread to England and Spain as well as to India via Vasco de Gama’s ships.

Jeremiah Colman of Colman’s Mustard fame would perfect a technique for grinding mustard seeds in 1866. This technique allowed for the seeds to be ground without bringing out their volatile oil thus preserving their flavor.

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What’s A Good Bay Leaf Substitute?

Bay Leaf Substitute

Bay leaves are among the earliest spices and have been in use since ancient times. It is one of the most widely traded as well. They are a little different from the rest of the herbs in your spice cabinet. For starters, there is the way that you use them. Unlike other herbs, most recipes that require bay leaves call for you to place a bay leaf into the pot whole and take it out before serving.

Bay leaves are from the Mediterranean region but are popular all over the world. They are usually used in dishes that require long cooking such as soups, pasta sauces and stews.

Despite the fact that the flavor of bay leaves is distinctive, several herbs can do a good job of replacing it if you have none on hand.

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Black Cardamom Vs. Green: SPICEography Showdown

Black Cardamom Vs Green

Cardamom comes in three colors, with each color having its own unique characteristics. The two most common colors are the black and green varieties with the green being the one that most of us know from the spice aisle in the grocery store. The third cardamom variety is the white variety, which is just bleached green cardamom.

Green cardamom is grown extensively in southwest India as well as in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Tanzania. Black cardamom comes mainly from the Himalayas with Nepal, India and China being the main producers.

When faced with a recipe that calls for cardamom, you may wonder which of the two you should choose. You may also have questions such as: is one better than the other? Can you use one type of cardamom as a replacement for the other? Which one will provide the most flavor? In this edition of SPICEography Showdown, we will answer those questions and more.

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Pumpkin Pie Spice: The Taste of Fall

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice is a seasonal mix of spices that tends to show up in recipes and on menus around fall. In fact, it is intended to evoke the taste of fall. Pumpkin pie spice started with the pumpkin and the early European immigrants in America. The pumpkin was a New World crop and the first European Americans had little choice but to acquire a taste for it. Early methods involved cooking it with a selection of spices, apples and sugar.

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Ancho Powder: Made From the Sweetest Chiles

Ancho Powder

As you might expect, ancho powder is made from ground ancho chilies. The grinding of dried peppers to make powder is a practice that dates all the way back to the Aztecs, who cultivated poblano peppers used to make ancho chilies. The peppers were dried to preserve them and were used by the Aztecs to flavor various foods including chocolate drinks. Ancho chilies are made from poblano peppers that are allowed to ripen before being dried. Only after ripening and drying, are they considered ancho chiles.

As the name “poblano” indicates, these peppers originate from the Mexican state of Puebla.

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What’s A Good Cinnamon Substitute?

Cinnamon Substitute

The ground cinnamon most Americans are familiar with is actually the pulverized bark of the cassia tree. Stick cinnamon is simply bark that has not been pulverized. Even though the two forms of the spice are common and widely used, you may find yourself out of one or both. Alternatively, other circumstances may be forcing you to seek a substitute. For example, one of the reasons that you may need a cinnamon substitute is a cinnamon allergy. While cinnamon allergies are not common, they do occur. Whether you have run out and need an emergency alternative to cinnamon or someone in your household is allergic to it, consider our recommended substitutes below.

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Chili Powder: The Authentic Tex-Mex Spice

Chili Powder

Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet since 7500 BC with Christopher Columbus being the first European to encounter them. He was also the first to call them “peppers” because their taste was reminiscent of black pepper. Because of Columbus, South American chili peppers would spread around the world and become major elements in different cuisines.

The inventor of chili powder is disputed, what is clear is that it was invented in Texas. According to Chili historian Joe Cooper, the inventor was a German immigrant named William Gebhardt. In 1894, Gebhardt ran a café in New Braunfels, Texas. At this time, chili was a seasonal food since the peppers were only available after the summer harvest. Gebhardt solved the problem by importing chilies from Mexican farmers in bulk. This allowed him to serve chili throughout the year but the large amount of dried peppers he had to keep on hand posed a problem, so he started grinding them in a meat grinder. He would add oregano and cumin seeds to the chili peppers as well; he called the spice mix “Tampico Dust” at first but would later rebrand it to Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder; it is still sold under that brand today. In 1896, he opened a factory to make and sell his chili powder.

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Chives: An Ancient Herb With A Delicate Flavor


Chives are in the onion family and have been used in Europe and Asia for millennia. Historians disagree about the region of origin. Chives may have come from Siberia, Greece or China.

The herb was not actively cultivated in Europe until the middle ages. In medieval Europe, it was used to discourage insects and as a decorative plant. Lore surrounding chives include the tale that they were given to Alexander the Great in Siberia and that they are a powerful aphrodisiac.

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