Tag Archive: Spice and Herb Bible

  1. SPICE TRAIL WITH IAN “Herbie” HEMPHILL: MARVELLOUS MIDDLE EAST

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    Julie’s Place is very excited to announce a wonderful long lunch with herb and spice guru, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill.

    Ian, author of “Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition”, among other respected books, will take you on a journey through the Middle East to learn about and experience their use of spices. And while he does, Julie Goodwin will cook for you the dishes that bring the stories to life. The lunch will consist of multiple delectable courses with wines.
    Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience a journey through the world of spice with a peerless expert. And a beautiful lunch as well!

     

  2. Spice Appreciation, Hill St Grocer, Devonport, TAS

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    Spice Appreciation Class

    Introducing an informative spice appreciation class with Ian “Herbie” & Liz Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices.
    Spices are quite literally on trend as never before. We see spices in the majority of restaurant and café menus, the amazing colours and textures of spices feature in food magazines, and even restaurants and boutique food outlets call themselves by spice names to reinforce their foodie credentials.Nonetheless, mystery has surrounded spices, their origins and uses for thousands of years. However, how much do you really know about these wonders of nature, and the best ways to buy, store and use them in everyday meals?In this Spice Appreciation class, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill, author of the award winning Spice & Herb Bible, will take you on a magical mystery tour of the world of spices, while Liz prepares delectable tastings. Herbie will navigate through the exotic waters of the history of the spice trade. You will learn about many different spices, their origins, and how they are processed and traded. Most importantly, Herbie will de-mystify their flavours so you will feel comfortable using them in everyday cooking.Your ticket includes entry into our lucky door prizes giveaways at the event.Date: Friday 2 August 2019

    Time: 5.30m to 7.30pm

    Cost: $35 per person

  3. Spices at The Cook’s Workshop, Dural

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    Spices at The Cook’s Workshop, Dural

    Introducing a unique spice appreciation and spice blending workshop with Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices.
    Spices are quite literally On Trend as never before. We see spices in the majority of restaurant and café menus, the amazing colours and textures of spices feature in food magazines, and even restaurants and boutique food outlets call themselves by spice names to reinforce their foodie credentials.
    Nonetheless, mystery has surrounded spices, their origins and uses for thousands of years. However, how much do you really know about these wonders of nature, and the best ways to buy, store and use them in everyday meals?In this workshop, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill, author of the award winning Spice & Herb Bible, will take you on a magical mystery tour of the world of spices. Workshop participants will learn just what spices and herbs really are, the different roles for using fresh or dried, and why most spices are dried to get their flavours.
    Importantly, spice blending will be explained, showing how 9 identical spices can be used to make four completely different spice blends. These blends will then be used hands-on when you collaborate to make four different recipes, featuring the flavours of Morocco, China, India and the Middle East. 
     
    Herbie has long been the nickname of Ian Hemphill, one of Australia’s foremost culinary herb and spice experts.

    Herbie spent his childhood surrounded by herbs and spices, when his parents, John and Rosemary Hemphill, were pioneering the herb and spice scene in the 1950s.
    Forty Five years of working in the industry, including face-to-face lectures to groups from the general public, industrial brokering, manufacturing and marketing, has made Herbie a well-respected and popular figure amongst his peers, in Australia and overseas. He now enjoys sharing his extensive experience and knowledge with his customers at Herbie’s Spices.

  4. Spice Appreciation Class in Canberra With Herbie & Liz

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    Introducing an informative spice appreciation class with Ian Herbie & Liz Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices.

    Spices are quite literally On Trend as never before. We see spices in the majority of restaurant and café menus, the amazing colours and textures of spices feature in food magazines, and even restaurants and boutique food outlets call themselves by spice names to reinforce their foodie credentials.

    Nonetheless, mystery has surrounded spices, their origins and uses for thousands of years. However, how much do you really know about these wonders of nature, and the best ways to buy, store and use them in everyday meals?

    In this Spice Appreciation class, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill, author of the award winning Spice & Herb Bible, will take you on a magical mystery tour of the world of spices, while Liz prepares delectable tastings. Herbie will navigate through the exotic waters of the history of the spice trade. You will learn about many different spices, their origins, and how they are processed and traded. Most importantly, Herbie will de-mystify their flavours so you will feel comfortable using them in everyday cooking.

  5. SPICE TRAIL WITH IAN HEMPHILL @ JULIE’S PLACE, GOSFORD

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    Julie’s Place is very excited to announce a wonderful long lunch with herb and spice guru, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill.
    Ian, author of “Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition”, among other respected books, will take you on a journey through the Indian sub-continent to learn about and experience their use of spices. And while he does, Julie Goodwin will cook for you the dishes that bring the stories to life. The lunch will consist of multiple delectable courses with wines.
    Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience a journey through the world of spice with a peerless expert. And a beautiful lunch as well!

  6. NEWSLETTER AUTUMN 2019

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    NEWSLETTER                                                  AUTUMN 2019

    Thank YouMoroccan Spice Kit

    As we wish you all the best for 2019, we want to thank you all most sincerely for giving us our busiest December in years.  It’s great to know that the spice kits are still working well as gifts for your family and friends, and that your kitchens are well stocked with the best spices you can find.

     

     

     

    Sydney Spice

    It’s many years now since we introduced the suburb-specific Balmain and Rozelle Spice mix.  Originally it was created at the request of Tourism NSW, when it was running a promotion for that Sydney area.  After all this time, we feel that the sunny, fresh and outdoorsy profile of this mix would be better described as Sydney Spice.  We have been running the same product under both names for nearly a year, and the time has come to let the old Balmain and Rozelle name slip away.  So, if you’re a fan, look for it under the new name, Sydney Spice, for the same great flavor.

    (Great with seafood, by the way, in case it’s new to you.) Try our Sydney Spiced Salmon Recipe

     

     

     

    Urfa Biber

    How often have you looked at your Turkish or Middle Eastern recipes and wondered about Urfa Biber (also called Isot or Pul Biber)? They are small Turkish chilli flakes, and we have finally found a supplier. Differing from most dried chilli flakes, the Urfa Biber flakes are mixed with a little vegetable oil and salt, giving them a salty tang similar to Sumac, with very pleasant rich yet not too hot chilli flavor. I’ve been putting Urfa Biber in our muhammara dip (see our website for the recipe), which is a staple in our house. We’ve also found a dusting of Urfa Biber is just the ticket on seared scallops. And because we love a little touch of chilli just about any time, we’ve mixed equal parts of Sumac and Urfa Biber, for a tangy, tasty, and slightly hot finishing touch, to sprinkle over our salads

     

    Autumn Box of Ideas

    The Autumn Box of Ideas has given us lots of fun as we’ve developed the recipes using some of our newest products. Rose Harissa is a star, as we can see from our sales that you’re loving it. Also in this season’s Box of Ideas are: Bill’s Steak Rub, Herbs de Provence, Tagine Spice Mix and Mustard Seed Ground. We’ve taken a mix’n’match approach this time, so you’ll find there are lots of variations and riffs to give you more options. It’s in an autumn-leaf russet-coloured box, and as usual, the price is $25.00 plus postage

     

     

     

    Rose Harissa

    Rose harissa is the most versatile of spice blends. Kate, who develops the recipes you see on our website, keeps a sauce on hand, simply made with Greek yoghurt, rose harissa and a little crème fraiche. It’s great as a dressing on a salad, or a drizzle over a grill. We love the dry mix sprinkled over slices of haloumi before we cook them in the pan … easy

     

     

     

    Escape from the City

    Did you happen to catch Escape From the City on ABC TV recently? Thanks to the few minutes shown where our old friend Simon Marnie visited the Herbie’s factory and had a nicely spiced meal with Herbie at home, lots of people have realized that we really are still in business … closing the shop in Rozelle did not mean that we ceased operations.

     

    Laksa Spice Mix

    Have you fallen into the habit of picking up a jar of curry or laksa paste when you’re at the supermarket? It’s so easy, isn’t it, whilst you’re there? Perhaps it’s time to remind you that pastes are mostly powdered spices mixed with onion, garlic, oil and water. (Read that label!) You have those extras at home, don’t you? Is it time you re-discovered our amazing Laksa Spice Mix? Most laksa pastes contain powdered shrimp, so if you’re vegetarian or vegan, ours is one of the few that will suit you. Many of our regular customers say they don’t bother to order laksa when they’re out any more, because they know they can make a terrific one at home, using their Herbie’s mix!

     

     

    Spice Tours of India

    It seems that our Spice Tours to India are back – we’re just having so much fun! Our forthcoming India – Food and Festivals later this year was filled from the list of those who had asked to kept informed as plans evolved. Plans are afoot for a tour in January 2020, focusing on Chillies (including the largest wholesale chilli market in the world) and those spices grown in the south of India, as well as some amazing not-so-well-known ancient historical sites. Plus a nice serving on the side of the kind of unbelievable luxury that India does so well for its visitors. If you’d like to know more about dates, costs etc, just let us know and we’ll put you on the email list and keep you updated as plans take shape.

     

     

     

    The Essential Ingredient

    The Essential Ingredient has moved from Rozelle, where it had become the quasi-Herbie’s, just up the road from where our shop used to be. With no renewal available on the Rozelle lease, they have found beautiful new premises in Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, where Sydney cooks can still find the complete Herbie’s Spices range, as well as all their other special kitchen needs. We wish all at Essential well in the new locality.

     

    Happy Spicing,

    Herbie & Liz

  7. Juniper, Gin and Ginspiration!

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    Making your own bespoke gin can be fun and satisfying if you have the right botanicals. Herbie’s Spices Ginspiration Spice Kit, combined with a vodka of your choosing, is a great way to commence your gin journey.

    Juniper Berries are the main ingredient that must be used to call a product Gin. However there are a number of other botanicals, which when used in the correct proportions, open an Aladdin’s cave of exotic bespoke tastes for the adventurous gin drinker.

     

    Botanicals included in the Herbie’s Spices Ginspiration Spice Kit are: Juniper Berries, Coriander Seeds, Rose Petals, Orange Peel Pieces, Orris Root GranulesGrains of ParadiseCubeb Peppercorns, Lavender Flowers, Schinus Pink Peppercorns and Sri Lankan Cinnamon.

     

     

     

    These spices are infused in vodka for just 3 days, you then strain the liquid off and bottle for your enjoyment, over ice or with your favourite tonic water.

     

     

     

     

    JUNIPER BERRIES (Juniperus communis)

    There are many different species of juniper, ranging from small shrubs 1.5 to 2 m high that provide us with the juniper berry of culinary use, to 12 m tall trees. Juniper bushes are compact with grey–green, ridged, sharp needle-like leaves that protrude at right angles, making the berries painful to harvest unless one is wearing strong gloves. The greenish-yellow flowers are indistinct and are followed by small, 7–10 mm diameter berries that take three years to mature. Initially hard and pale green, juniper berries ripen to blue–black, become fleshy and contain three sticky, hard brown seeds. When dried, the berries remain soft but if broken open, one will find the pith surrounding the seeds is quite friable. The aroma of juniper is immediately reminiscent of gin, with a woody, piney, resinous smell that is somewhat flowery and contains notes of turpentine. The flavour is equally pine-like, spicy, refreshing and savory, making it an excellent foil for rich, gamey or fatty foods. Although considered harmless to most, pregnant women and people with kidney problems are advised to avoid too much juniper.

    Origin and History

    Juniper trees are native to the Mediterranean, Arctic Norway, Russia, the north-west Himalayas and North America. Juniper has been regarded as a valuable item for medicinal purposes since the birth of Christ and has been considered throughout the ages as a magical plant. The Greek physicians Galen and Dioscorides wrote of juniper’s virtues around 100 AD and it is also mentioned in the Bible. Because of its air-cleansing piney fragrance, the foliage was used as a strewing herb to freshen stale air, and the Swiss burnt the berries with heating fuel in winter to sanitise stale classrooms. Juniper berries were sometimes utilised as a substitute for pepper, and they have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Gin, the alcoholic drink that derives its unique flavour from juniper berries, is named from an adaptation of the Dutch word for juniper, jenever.

    Processing

    Because juniper berries take three years to mature, a tree will bear both immature fruits and ready-to-be-harvested blue–black berries at the same time. The best-quality berries are picked by hand when ripe (usually in autumn) as any form of mechanical harvesting will crush these small pulpy spheres, allowing them to dry out and lose much of their flavour. We found picking juniper berries – nestled among their treacherous, needley foliage – so painful that we resorted to removing them with chopsticks. This was an inordinately slow task, which at least had the side-benefit of greatly improving our chopstick-handling skills.

    Buying and Storage

    Juniper berries are at their best when they are still moist and soft to the touch, squashing relatively easily between one’s fingers without crumbling from excessive dryness. It is not unusual for some berries to have a cloudy bloom on their indented, smooth blue–black skins, and although this is a harmless mould, berries that have not been properly dried may be excessively cloudy in appearance. Always wait to crush or grind juniper berries just before you use them, as the volatile component evaporates rapidly once exposed to the air. Store in a cool place in airtight packaging.

    Use

    Juniper berries perform a unique role by contributing as much to the character of food through their ‘freshening’ ability as they do by way of their specific taste profile. As well as flavouring a dish, juniper cuts the gaminess of game, reduces the fatty effect of duck and pork and removes a perception of stodginess from bread stuffing. For this reason juniper berries are included in recipes for all sorts of game, such as venison, including reindeer in Scandinavia and wild duck in Ireland. They are added to fish and lamb and blend well with other herbs and spices, especially thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, allspice and onions and garlic. One application I am particularly fond of is in a simple chicken casserole, moistened with plenty of rough red wine and spiced with all the above plus a few juniper berries.

     

    For information on hundreds of herbs, spices and spice blends, see The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill and published by Robert Rose Inc. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

     

  8. Christmas Caper at The Essential Ingredient Rozelle

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    This is The Essential Ingredient’s last Christmas Caper at their Rozelle store, which stocks the largest range of Herbie’s Spices in Australia. Essential Rozelle has invited the people behind some of their most loved brands, including Herbie’s Spices, so that you can experience first hand how better quality ingredients and kitchen tools can bring your festive season to life. This is a shopping event like no other with oodles of product tastings, cooking demonstrations throughout the night and their biggest ever door prize giveaways.

    Herbie’s Simply Delicious Dips
    Wondering what to do with your ever growing selection of Herbie’s Spice packs? Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill and Liz Hemphill will show you how with just a few ingredients and some Herbie’s spices and spice blends, you can create simple delicious dips and spreads that will take pride of place on those lazy summer day grazing platters.

     

     

    An Essential Dips Spice Kit will be on sale for $28 which includes 6 spices and blends and 5 delicious dip recipes that you’ll taste at the event.

     

    You’ll also have the opportunity to taste home made gin using Herbie’s Ginspiration Kit.

     

    Door Prize: A complete Herbie’s Pantry spice kit will go to one lucky winner as part of our door prize draw.

  9. Spice Essentials with Herbie & Kate in Rozelle

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    Herbie’s Spice Essentials

    DATE AND TIME:
    Sun. 28 October 2018
    10:30 am – 1:30 pm AEDT
    LOCATION:
    Cooking School at The Essential Ingredient
    731-735 Darling St
    Rozelle, NSW 2039

    Join Australia’s spice guru Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill and daughter Kate (authors of The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition) in this hands-on class to explore the colourful and vibrant world of spices. Learn how spices bring readily available ingredients to life, including the art of making your own spice blends.

    This will be the only hands-on Herbie’s course we will be running this year due to Kate’s schedule in the U.K so book early to avoid disappointment!

    The Menu

    • Muhamurra dip with za’atar flatbread (includes making flatbread)
    • Schichimi seared tuna with ponzu dressing
    • Chicken Bastilla
    • Lavender and Lemon Olive Oil Cakes

    Plus making your own spice blend to take home using Herbie’s original Spice Pyramid ©

    Herbie has long been the nickname of Ian Hemphill, one of Australia’s foremost culinary herb and spice experts. Herbie and wife Liz started Herbie’s Spices in 1997, and after Forty-Five years of working in the herb and spice industry, Herbie is a well-respected and popular figure amongst his peers, in Australia and overseas.

    Kate Hemphill, Ian & Liz’s eldest daughter, is an accomplished cook, a graduate of Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London, recipe contributor to The Spice & Herb Bible, and developer of most of the inspirational recipes you will find on www.herbies.com.au website.

    Booking Conditions:
    1. Cancellations are not refundable.
    2. The Essential Ingredient reserves the right to alter or cancel a class without notice. In the event of a change, you will be contacted on the daytime phone number provided to us at time of booking.
    3. Registration is from 30 minutes prior to the class start time.
    4. All classes and events require closed-in shoes.
    5. We cannot accommodate dietary requirements in all cases. Please contact us prior to booking on 02 9555 8300.

    Click here to view our full terms and conditions.

  10. Spice Appreciation in Conversation at Bondi Junction

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    SPICE APPRECIATION IN CONVERSATION
    AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF SPICES
    AT HEALTHY LIFE BONDI JUNCTION
    12th August from 12:00 noon to 2:00pm
    (With Ian “Herbie” Hemphill)

    This is your chance to talk about spices with Australian spice guru, Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices.

    Herbie is the author of the award winning Spice & Herb Bible, an authoritative herb and spice treatise sold in Canada, the USA, the UK and Australia. Copies will be available for sale and signing by Ian on the day.

    Some of the subjects you can discus with Ian are:

    • The history of the spice trade and the Hemphill family’s obsession with herbs and spices for over 50 years.
    • The difference between a herb and a spice.
    • Vanilla, how it is grown and processed.
    • Storage, how to store and what does shelf life actually mean?
    • Quality and Adulteration, what is quality, how to identify and why it is important?
    • Herbs and spices are key to healthy, sustainable diets.
    • Cinnamon and cassia, what’s the difference and why you need to know.
    • Pepper, once the world’s most traded spices.
    • Chilli and all its derivatives, unknown to India, China and Europe only 500 years ago.
    • Ras el Hanout the most exotic Moroccan inspired spice blend on Earth.
    • Fragrant Sweet Spice, is another exotic blend for everyday use.

    For more information and recipes refer to;

    The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill

    HEALTHY LIFE BONDI JUNCTION

    Shop 1025, Level 1 (In front of Coles)

    Westfield Shopping Centre

    Bondi Junction, NSW, 2022

    Tel: 02 9389 3266

  11. Mastic Update

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    We have recently noticed an increase in awareness of mastic as an ingredient, so have decided to share some previous information to help demystify this fascinating and useful spice.

    Mastic is the name given to the resinous gum that exudes from the scored bark of the Gum Mastic Tree. There are many varieties of mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus) in the Mediterranean and Middle East, yet most of the world’s production of gum mastic comes from the “Protected Designation of Origin” trees (P. lentiscus var. Chia) that grow on the Greek island of Chios. The name mastic derives from the Greek word mastichon which means to chew.

    Mastic has a slightly resinous, pine-like flavour and can be chewed just like chewing gum. Mastic is used in cooking for the consistency it gives to Greek slow-cooked lamb, it is used in ice cream and in The Spice & Herb Bible there is a recipe for an Asparagus and Mastic Summer Soup.

    Between June and September, Mastic farmers ‘hurt’ the trees by scoring the bark. The tears that ooze out in stalactite-like strands fall onto white kaolin clay that has been spread on the ground below the trees. This promotes drying and contributes to the clarity of the mastic that falls onto it.

    Mastic flowing from the scored bark of a Chios gum mastic tree

    Mastic flowing from the scored bark of a Chios gum mastic tree

    In this grove of gum mastic trees you can see the white kaolin clay that is spread around the base of the trees prior to scoring the bark.

    In this grove of gum mastic trees you can see the white kaolin clay that is spread around the base of the trees prior to scoring the bark.

    The gathered mastic is then stored in cellars to further solidify, and during winter, families in the mastic villages clean and grade the resin into different sized ‘tears’ ready for sale.

    Mastic stored in a cellar ready for cleaning and grading in winter.

    Mastic stored in a cellar ready for cleaning and grading in winter.

    Mastic 'tears'

    Mastic ‘tears’

    These are the mastic tears we sell at Herbie’s Spices.

    Extract from Spice Notes & Recipes by Ian Hemphill:

    The gum mastic tree, or schinos as the Chia variety is called in its native Greek island of Chios, is a slow-growing, hardy evergreen tree that averages 2–3 m in height, although some have been known to reach 5 m. The mastic tree has shiny dark-green leaves, resembling those of myrtle. The trunk is rough and gnarled and when tapped yields a clear resinous substance which when coagulated is called gum mastic. The valuable gum mastic flows when the grey bark has been cut, or ‘hurt’, to tap the supply. Full growth of these charming trees is achieved after 40–50 years, and some trees are known to be up to 200 years old. Mastic production commences when the trees are five to six years old, reaching maximum yield of up to 1 kg per tree when the tree is 15 years old. The end of a tree’s productive life comes at about 70 years of age.

    The sappy gum hardens after ‘hurting’ and is most often seen in either large (3–5 mm) or small (2–3 mm) pieces, referred to as ‘tears’. The texture of these tears is brittle and somewhat crystalline. When broken, mastic tears reveal a shiny surface resembling a piece of chipped quartz and release a faint pine-like aroma. The flavour is initially bitter and mineral-like, becoming more neutral after a few minutes chewing, when it takes on the consistency and opaque fawn colour of chewing gum. Even after 15–20 minutes chewing, a surprising degree of mouth-freshening flavour remains, unlike today’s highly flavoured chewing gums, which seem to expire in a matter of minutes. In cooking mastic does contribute to flavour although its main function is for texture and as a binding agent. A gum mastic oil is also produced by distillation of the leaves and branches of mastic trees, however, few cooks would be familiar with it as its primary use is in the manufacturing of sweets, liqueurs and medicines.

    Origin and History

    One legend, which I feel is particularly appropriate, has it that when Saint Issidoros was tortured to death by the Romans in AD 250, his body was dragged under the mastic tree. Upon seeing the saint’s mutilated form, the tree started to cry with real tears.

    There are many varieties of mastic trees in the Mediterranean and Middle East, yet most of the world’s production of gum mastic comes from the Greek island of Chios, where an unsurpassed passion and dedication to the gum mastic tree is evident, and there is even a Gum Mastic Grower’s Association. Mastic has a long history that dates back to classical times and is mentioned by erudite Greek authors such as Pliny, Dioscorides, Galenus and Theophrastus. Mastic was well known to the pharaohs, and was mentioned by Hippocrates (the ancient doctor known as ‘the father of medicine’) as a cure for all manner of ailments from baldness to intestinal and bladder problems, as a paste for toothache and to apply in cases of snakebite.

    From the tenth century on, Chios became famous for its masticha. The name derives from the Greek word mastichon, which means ‘to chew’ and is the root of the English word ‘masticate’, for it was as a chewing gum and mouth freshener that mastic was commonly used. By the 14th and 15th centuries, the production of mastic was highly organised and controlled by the ‘Scriba Masticis’, clerks whose job was the registration of the production of gum mastic. Such was the importance of mastic that during Turkish occupation, mastic-producing villages on Chios were given special privileges, such as their own management and permission to strike the church bells. In all there were 21 mastic villages, which paid their tithes with 26 tonnes of mastic and were thus made free from paying all other taxes. As with most valuable commodities, the penalties for stealing gum mastic were draconian to say the least, and the severity related directly to the quantity stolen. Receivers of stolen mastic also had the same punishment meted out to them. These punitive measures ranged from having one’s ears and/or nose cut off, to branding with red-hot steel on the forehead, or getting your eyes burnt out. The ultimate penalty was hanging, if one was caught with over 200 kilos. Thus Kyriakus Pitsiccoli of Angona, when on one of his many visits to Chios between 1435 and 1440, was heard to say, ‘If you wish to live in Chios, just keep the gum mastic and never steal it.’

    Today the Gum Mastic Grower’s Association lists 64 uses for mastic, extolling among other things, its anti-cancer properties, use in treatment of duodenal ulcers, benefits for oral hygiene and use in South Morocco and Mauritania as an aphrodisiac.

    Processing

    Production of gum mastic is still strictly controlled and occurs between June and September. This begins by first cleaning and levelling the ground around the base of the trees with white clay – called ‘currying’. The white clay contains limestone, which promotes drying and contributes to the clarity in mastic that falls onto it. The first cutting, or ‘hurt’, of 10–20 wounds is made on the trunk, typically in the morning, which is the best time for maximum sap flow. Up to 100 cuts are made over the season, however, too much ‘hurting’ of young trees will inhibit future yields. Over the next 10–20 days, coagulation takes place as gum mastic oozes out of the cuts. The tears are collected, first using a special tool called a ‘timitiri’ to remove them from the trunk. The rest of the mastic on the ground is collected, put into wooden crates and transferred to the houses where it is sorted, ready for cleaning by the village’s womenfolk during winter. After sieving to remove any adhering leaves and soil, the gum is washed in cold, soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and spread out on bags inside the houses to dry. After drying, a small knife is used to remove any remaining dirty particles. Much of the winter in the mastic villages is spent carefully cleaning the summer’s production by hand to prepare it for sale. Clean gum mastic is categorised into three main grades. ‘Pitta’ is the foam that occurs when many drops become one; this grade is the largest (pieces up to 7 cm in diameter) and has an oval shape. Next are large tears, which measure about 10–15 mm in length, and small tears that average 3–6 mm in diameter. Tiny pieces are classified as powder, and any uncleaned remains left over are usually distilled for use in perfumes and alcoholic drinks, such as ouzo and raki.

    Buying and Storage

    Gum mastic can be purchased from Greek and Middle Eastern food stores and specialty food retailers. The most common pack size is 1–5 g because it is relatively expensive and a recipe only requires a small amount to be used at a time. Tears should be quite clear and transparent with a slight golden tone. The best storage conditions are in a cool place, as exposure to extreme or prolonged heat will cause the tears to become cloudy and discolour, with a subsequent loss of flavour.

    Use

    Mastic appears to have myriad applications ranging from the medicinal to the functional, including use as a stabiliser in paints, and for making varnishes, especially for musical instruments. It has been used in the production of tyres, aromatic soaps, insecticides and electrical insulators. Frankincense is produced from gum mastic and rosin, and mastic has been used in the tanning, weaving and bee-keeping industries. Where mastic really shines of course is when it comes to culinary uses. Besides being used in toothpaste, chewing gum and confectionery, it is an ingredient in the making of liqueurs. Included in the best and most authentic Turkish delight, it is found in recipes for breads and pastries, ice-creams, sweet puddings and almond cake.

    Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition with over 120 new recipes by Herbie's daughter Kate.

    Source: The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill. Published by Robert Rose Inc. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    Herbie visits Chios, the home of Gum Mastic.

  12. Spice Appreciation with Ian (Herbie) & Liz Hemphill in WA

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    Spice Appreciation with Ian (Herbie) & Liz Hemphill in WA

    Ian & Liz Hemphill will be visiting Matters of Taste Cooking School in Western Australia on 2nd June 2018 to entertain and inform about the world of spices.

    Come to our Guest Presenter EVENT on Saturday 2nd June 2018

    Ian (Herbie) and Liz Hemphill are the gracious owners of the iconic Herbies Spices based in Sydney. If you want to know anything about spices, they are the perfect people to answer your questions. With seemingly infinite knowledge, they join us for Spice Mastery.

    Over forty five years of working in the industry, including face-to-face lectures to groups from the general public, industrial brokering, manufacturing and marketing, has made Herbie a well-respected and popular figure among his peers, in Australia and overseas. We use Herbies Spices in class to make our food taste exceptional.

    Ian and Liz will take you on a fascinating and mind-boggling journey into the mystical world of spice. From Ian’s childhood growing up with his spice pioneering parents in the 50’s, to travels around the globe in search of stunning produce, Ian and Liz have many stories to tell.

    Delight in this fabulous 3 hour class and leave with a greater knowledge of how to exquisitely spice up your cooking!

    Class: Spice Appreciation Saturday Afternoon EVENT June 2nd 2.30pm to 5.00pm – 40 participants, row seating, Demonstration Style, Tastings included $89.00.

    Book on this page.

    Included in this class….

    • Slow Roasted Sumac Tomatoes, Avocado, Leaves, Crostini
    • Ras el Hanout Chicken, Roasted Vegetables, Couscous
    • Chicken Chettinad, Steamed Rice
    • Fragrant Berries with Matters of Taste’s Housemade Yoghurt

    Dietary Information

    Whilst we endeavour to accommodate food preferences and allergen avoidance, some classes are not suitable for participants with life threatening reactions.

    You are welcome to contact us for any further clarification and to ask further questions regarding the suitability of this one-off class content.