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National Herb and Spice Day

In ancient times, herbs and spices were used as currency in trade and for medicinal purposes. They are still used for the latter to some extent today, and they have some health benefits. They are used as food preservatives, and in the preparation of many products, such as salad dressings, sausages, sauces, mustards, cookies, and liqueurs. They are also added to food to enhance flavor, aroma, or spiciness. This may especially be the case today because it's National Herb and Spice Day!

Herbs and spices are both seasonings, but are from different parts of plants and are processed differently. Spices are made from aromatic seeds, roots of plants, flowers, and bark, and are usually dried and crushed, although some, like ginger, may be used fresh. They are usually stronger in flavor than herbs because they are made from parts of plants that are crushed and high in essential oils. Examples are cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. Herbs are leaves. Most, but not all, come from herbaceous plants, which lack woody stems. They can be chopped or whole, fresh or dried. Common examples are rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, rosemary, and marjoram. Herbaceous plants also produce spice seeds, which are "tiny aromatic fruits and oil-bearing seeds." Fennel, poppy, sesame, caraway, and cumin all produce spice seeds.

How to Observe National Herb and Spice Day

Celebrate the day by cooking with herbs and spices! While you could pick some up at a farmer's market or grocery store, this is also the perfect day to start growing your own herb and spice garden. Learning more about the different types of herbs and spices may help you decide what to cook and plant.

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