Herb and Spice Blends

Herb and Spice Blends

Herb and spice blends are combinations of flavors that are commonly found in many dishes. Although they are pre-mixed and sold in stores, most can be mixed by the cook as needed. This is what I recommend, because your homemade blends will obviously improve with the freshness of the herbs and spices you use to make them.

As with many areas of gourmet cooking, this one involving blending herbs and spices is wide open to experimentation. Dig in, mix and match, have fun!

Chinese Five-Star Powder – This is an herb and spice blend of equal parts of finely ground Szechuan pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seeds. This blend is excellent with pork.

Curry Powder – The typical ingredients are black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, mace, and turmeric.

Masala – A garam masala is made with hot spices. A dry masala usually contains peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, turmeric, bay leaves and fennel seeds. It is added to foods at the end of cooking or sprinkled on before serving. A wet masala is made by adding coconut milk, oil or tamarind water to a dry garam masala. It is usually added at the start of cooking.

Herbes de Provence – This herb and spice blend includes thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, basil, fennel seeds, savory and lavender.

Italian Seasoning Blend – This herb and spice blend includes dried basil, oregano, sage, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, savory and other herbs associated with Italian cooking.

Pickling Spice – Most pickling spice blends are based on black red chiles and black peppercorns with the following added: allspice, cloves, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, bay leaves and dill. These blends are used in stews and useful in making vegetable or cucumber pickles.

Quatre-Epices (kah-tray-pees) – Quatre-epices means 4 spices. It is a mixture of black peppercorns with nutmeg, cloves and dried ginger. Sometimes allspice or cinnamon is included. It is usually used in long-simmered stews.

Ras el Hanout (rass al ha-noot) – Ras el hanout usually contains 20 or more spices. Turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, coriander, cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, dried chiles, dried flower petals, and supposedly an aphrodisiac or two. It flavors rice, stews, and game dishes.

Seasoned Salts – Seasoned salts contain salt and flavors such as spices, garlic or celery seeds.

I hope you find this brief list of some of the most common herbs and spice blends to be both enlightening and useful. I love experimenting with herbs and spices, blending them as the spirit moves me. You should do the same.

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About Chef Kathy

My name is Kathy Davault. I am an award winning chef and author, and have enjoyed cooking for over 30 years. I decided to go to culinary school to become a chef because I knew there was more to cooking than just following recipes.

I started my website http://www.how-to-cook-gourmet.com in 2006 to offer an abundance of information on many of the things I learned in culinary school. I have a real passion for cooking and want to share all of my tips and techniques with you.

If you are serious about cooking, and would like to be considered a real chef without going to culinary school, let me show you how. You will truly leave a lasting impression on your family and friends, and become the talk of the party with your fabulous dishes!


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