Baharat, also known as Lebanese Seven Spice or Advieh, has become one of the many ‘go-to’ spice blends along with Ras el Hanout and Chermoula. Herbie, always up to date or ahead with spice trends, was asked to contribute this article to Australian Gourmet Traveller in 1999. Yes, 24 years ago! This is the article: Legendary spice merchant and blender, Ian (Herbie) Hemphill, has
Single Use Plastics
We’re all in accord about single-use plastics. Having seen huge drifts of plastic in the pristine seas off the Indonesian islands, we know just how important it is to get rid of those shopping bags, plastic wraps and sandwich bags. When one gets emotional about bad plastics, it’s easy to begin to demonize all plastics, and perhaps it’s timely to repeat this message from our Newsletter of some years ago:
We are proud of the exceptional storage qualities of our high-barrier laminate plastic bags, however from time to time we agonize over the eco-friendliness (or not) of our plastic packaging. We found it interesting that another food company has thoroughly researched the glass-versus-laminate question. Put briefly, the Life Cycle Assessment conducted at RMIT University found that their non-recyclable pouch uses less non-renewable energy and less water to produce, and emits less CO2 equivalents over its entire life cycle than a glass jar. They also pointed out that nearly half of Australia’s recyclable glass is not recycled in Australia, so the environmental effects of shipping the glass out of the country need to be taken into account as well.
We are doing our best to bring you the best quality product and not overburden our environment. Naturally, we cannot compromise on keeping your spices as fresh as possible. We are constantly watching for developments in packaging, and are hopeful that a recyclable or bio-degradable bag with equivalent barrier properties of our current packaging is not too far away.
Shortage of Cardamom Seeds
Further to our comments in the latest Newsletter about star anise being used in the making of Tamiflu, a contact in the know has let us know that Tamiflu’s effect is in doubt, so maybe our star anise supplies are safe! But it’s a case of “one door opens, another closes”, as we face drastic shortages of cardamom seeds. The importation of seeds of any kind has become more difficult due to new Australian bio-security regulations introduced recently. That combined with low harvests in India (our source) and Guatemala (another major producer) you may have to stock up on whole green cardamom pods, and peel the husk away to avail yourself of the seeds as you need them. That’s what we’ll be doing in order to continue to include ground cardamom in retail packs.
What’s New at Herbie’s?
Summer Box of Ideas
Lots of new kit ideas, that’s what! Our Summer Box of Ideas for this season contains Jamaican Jerk seasoning and Brazilian spice mix for your summer barbecues, plus our lovely Native Lemon Pepper for your seafood (pictured is the Salmon Salad Recipe that is enclosed in the kit), Mixed Herbs for your stuffings and hamburgers, and Sugar and Spice for your sweet treats. In our bright summer sky blue box, it’s $25.00 plus postage.
Risotto Blend and Black Garlic Powder
Also new for summer is our beautiful Risotto spice mix. It’s never been easier to have a deliciously tasty risotto with the simplest of ingredients. Just add a couple of teaspoons of Risotto spice mix to your stock, add some lovely seasonal vegetables, and stand by for the adulation from your diners! After the sad demise of our black garlic bulbs (see latest newsletter), we have now found some amazing black garlic powder, which is pure umami, and we’ve used it as an important ingredient in the new spice blend, along with porcini powder, thyme, parsley, pepper, coriander seed and paprika. A 20g pack, priced at $6.75, will make two batches of risotto.
During winter, we visited Tasmania to do some classes for Hill Street Grocer, in Hobart and Devonport. It’s impossible to fail to notice the plethora of boutique gin producers in Tasmania, most of them featuring the pepperberry which is native to that state. We encourage you to seek out some of these boutique gins, which are really excellent. Inspired, we played around with some Australian native spices in conjunction with our Ginspiration Kit, and were very pleased with the results. That put us in a tricky situation … do we change what is already in our Ginspiration Kit, or make another one? The solution, as we saw it, was to keep our excellent popular gin-making kit as it is, and have a little add-on box of spices for those who want to have more fun and experiment further with more than the traditional flavours. So, we are happy to introduce Ginspiration Plus, an enhanced two-box bundle for $85.00 … making your own gin has never been so much fun!
Japanese Spice Kit
Brand new in time for Christmas is the Japanese Spice Kit, packed with Furikake Seasoning, Sansho powder, Katsu curry, ground ginger and Shichimi Togarashi, with some excellent recipes to get you started on your Japanese adventure. Due to the sky-high cost of Sancho powder, this kit is a little more expensive than most, but still reasonable at $45.00. It’s in our purple box, in line with all the other cuisine-specific kits.
Watch this space – our consistently superior Kashmiri saffron is about to have a downward price adjustment. Now there’s an early Christmas gift for everyone!
Travel in India
We’re thoroughly Indian-infused, back from a wonderful trip to northern parts of India, with 19 of the best travelling companions, and we’re off again in January to the south. Just love those spices, the wonderful food, the amazing history and the delightful people that we meet along the way.
Peugeot Salt and Pepper Grinders
There’s great pleasure to be had in really good salt and pepper grinders that are easily adjustable and truly functional. We have sourced a beautiful pack of Peugeot salt and pepper grinders, which we are offering in time for Christmas with complimentary Herbie’s Peppermill Blend and Spiced Salt, to get you started. You’ll find all the details on the website.
Happy Holidays and Happy Spicing
Herbie and Liz