Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2020-2021

November 12, 2020 posted in General

Summer 2020-21


A world-wide annus horribilis is drawing to a close, and all we want for Christmas is a better year ahead.  For many, time spent in confinement has been a time for reflection, communicating with loved ones, and cooking up a storm.


For over twenty years, we’ve been unable to find a decent dried Epazote (pronounced eep-a-sot-tay) for our Mexican food-loving customers.  So you can imagine our delight to have finally found Epazote leaves that are of good enough for inclusion in the Herbie’s range!  This mint-like leafy herb has a strong, slightly disagreeable aroma, but after drying the aroma is appetising, with a mixed-herb pungency.  Favoured in the cooking of the Yucatan peninsula, you’ll find it listed in your Mexican cookbooks, and now – hurrah! – you’ll find it at Herbie’s Spices.


Umami … you may have heard of it, you may not know what it means.  Umami is a Japanese word which applies to a certain delicious tastiness, a moreishness, that cannot fit with any of the other flavour descriptors: sweet, sour, salty, or bitter.  Think if a fresh ripe tomato, warm from the sun, or Vegemite, or a mouth-wateringly delicious barbecued field mushroom.  Umami is naturally present in garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, and capsicums, so it seemed a good idea for us to create a Umami blend, using, among other ingredients, black garlic powder, porcini powder, tomato powder and paprika.  This is not a complete spice blend like a curry or a barbecue rub, where no other input is needed, but, just as you would add a squeeze of lemon, or a pinch of salt, so you would add a little Umami blend to whatever you are cooking.  For instance, in an Italian-style chicken fry-up (onion, garlic, bacon, chicken, capsicum, olives, tomatoes), we added a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (of course), then to go that extra bit further, we tossed in a teaspoon of Umami blend.  Yum! And another way to introduce it:


(Serves 2)

  • 100g barley
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon each butter and oil
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 field mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Umami Seasoning
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2-3 pieces lemon skin
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped dill


  1. In a deep pan, heat butter and oil, and sauté onion and garlic gently for two minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and mushrooms and stir to combine.
  3. Add barley, stock, Umami seasoning and dill, salt and pepper to taste. Stir, and bring to boiling point.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes, until barley grains are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

The Spice and Herb Bible – Third Edition

It’s not unusual for us to receive phone calls or emails with special requests.  Someone with a garlic intolerance might ask us to create, say, our Cajun blend without the garlic.  Or someone on a salt-free diet might ask if we can make their favourite barbecue blend without the salt.  We’d love to oblige, but it’s just not a feasible operation.  The people wanting their special blend wouldn’t really fancy paying the hourly rate involved in fulfilling their requests!  However, there’s a really easy solution.  In The Spice and Herb Bible – Third Edition, Herbie has given away lots of his secrets, with the actual recipes for many of our most popular blends.  So all you need to do, to have your own salt-chilli-garlic-free blend, is copy the recipe from the book and tailor it to your specific needs.  You still have time to let Santa know that you need The Spice and Herb Bible – Third Edition by Ian Hemphill! Having been in print continuously since 2000, (originally as Spice Notes and Spice Notes and Recipes), it is truly a best-seller.

Of course, there are many blends that don’t have salt, including our fabulous Zalt – It’s Not Salt, to add a lovely bright tastiness to your food without sodium.  You can find our salt-free blends on our website: Blends Without Salt

Herbie’s Shop

There’s a saying: if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.  That rather applies to us here at Herbie’s, as, amidst the busiest period we’ve ever experienced, we have disrupted our workplace in order to build a retail shop within our factory.  We look forward to welcoming more visitors, and providing them with a better, more complete shopping experience. Each product has a tester jar so that you may smell, compare, investigate, and learn. Those of you who remember our store at Rozelle will find our new venture is true to our original vision; we’re still doing our best to bring you “the ultimate spice experience.”  We’re open Monday to Friday, 9.00 to 4.00, and Saturdays, 9.30 to 2.00. We’re close to the Sydney-Newcastle expressway – pop our address, 25 Arizona Road, Charmhaven, NSW in your GPS, and come and visit us!

Happy Campers Spice Kit

Anyone who drives the highways this year can’t help but notice the number of camper-vans and caravans on the road, as we all take our domestic holidays.  There’s never been a more appropriate Christmas gift than our Happy Campers Spice Kit, a great way to ensure that your taste buds don’t get homesick in remote areas.  It’s packed in a sturdy, off-road box in a variety of colours.

What’s New At Herbie’s?

Raita Spice Blend

We love it when customers tell us what they’re looking for, like the man who wanted the spices to make a raita to go with his Indian curries.  Being very familiar with Indian cuisine, it was instinctive for Herbie to put the ingredients together into a convenient blend, and we’re just loving it!  One teaspoon of Raita Spice Blend to four tablespoons of plain yoghurt makes a delicious cooling condiment to serve with curries, cold cuts or grills.  Add some fresh cucumber to suit your taste – it’s truly that easy!

Box of Ideas – Summer 2020-21

Also new is our seasonal Box of Ideas … Summer 2020-21. Feeding friends and family during the summer months can be either a pleasure or a chore.  Although the consommé here is time consuming, there’s a kind of Zen satisfaction in letting it proceed at its own pace.  Cook-ahead winners like the sage shortbread mean more time to relax with those you love.  Fire up the barbecue, bring a gorgeous sorbet out of the freezer, and enjoy the holiday season! Contains five spices and spice blends with seven great recipes.

There have been many unwelcome COVID-related inconveniences during the year, and there are more to come. Spice shortages will occur, as rural workers in spice-producing countries have not planted and harvested in their usual way.  Also, much-needed imports are held up on Australian wharves, so we have to think on our feet to keep as much as possible available for you.

Ginspiration Kit

Grains of Paradise are temporarily out of stock, so their place in our ever-popular Ginspiration Kit has been taken by Australian native pepperberries, which give the resulting gin a lovely pink hue.  As pepperberries were originally in our Ginspiration Plus box, we’ve replaced them with wattleseed.  Happily, we’ve found that a gin that includes three Australian natives – pepperberry, wattleseed and lemon myrtle – has a delicious dark allure, with elusive hints of coffee.  It’s one to have over ice.

Ultimate Spice Lover’s Gift

When a group of male friends get together, the talk eventually comes around to barbecues, food, and who does it better.  Our son-in-law, in a rural NSW community, took up the challenge with his tennis mates to see who could cook the best ribs.  He came to us for a little inside knowledge, and we showed him our Rib Spice … well, what do you know?  His ribs won hands down!!  (Not so surprised, really.) Now all his friends want to know his secret, and we’re happy to share.

We have the ultimate gifts for any spice-lover … our gorgeous new wooden boxes with 12 jars in each.  The clear sliding lid lets you see what’s what, with labels on the jar lids as well as the traditional wrap-around labels.  A pepper freak will love the Pepperer’s Guild, twelve varieties of pepper to add bite in different ways; or make your own curries from scratch using twelve essential ingredients in Curry Essentials.  These are available from our new retail store, or online.

What’s Coming in 2021?

In early 2021 you’ll see some changes to our website that will make the Herbie’s on-line experience even more informative. We have simplified some elements based on feedback we have received for you over the last few years. A major improvement will be our search facility, so instead of just searching for blends with chilli or garlic, you’ll also be able to look for items with NO chilli or garlic. We always welcome your comments, as these help us to make your Ultimate Spice Experience with us even better.

We also love to see your cooking creations, so tag us in your foodie posts: @herbiesspices

Here’s hoping for a bright and positive new year! Happy spicing!

Herbie and Liz

Explore All

The Mystique of Baharat Spice Blend

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


Herbie’s Spices Newsletter Winter 2023

When we started our operations on the Central Coast of NSW, it was a sleepy area in many ways.  How things have changed in 20 years!  We are pleased to announce that we have joined the vibrant Central Coast Maker’s Trail. Whether you have a few hours or an entire weekend to explore the Central Coast, the Makers Trail is the perfect adventure. This

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter Summer 2022 – 2023

Isn’t it surprising how quickly the seasons revolve?  Our hearts go out to those who have suffered immensely from the floods and wild weather in so many states.  For those more fortunate, we continue to eat and enjoy each other’s company.  Whether we’re celebrating Christmas, or just being together with loved ones on any other day of summer, food is always an important part

Meal Ideas for Isolation

We thought that in these unprecedented times, it would be appropriate to share some handy meal ideas to ease the stress of isolation and potentially limited food sources. Having to self-isolate creates an opportunity to brush up your cooking skills and have some fun experimenting with some flavours you may not have tried before. Let’s face it, everyone can cook. Have you ever grilled

Spices and Spice Blends for Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking

In this short video, Ian "Herbie" Hemphill talks about how Herbie's Spices, herbs and spice blends are all suitable for vegetarian and vegan cooking. A great spice blend for vegan meals is Aloo Gobi Masala. All ingredients are listed on the labels, so you know exactly what you are getting. For a wealth of information on spices, herbs and making your own spice blends,

Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2019 – 2020

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.


Spices & More in South India Jan-Feb 2020

We invite you to join us, Herbie and Liz, as we return to our beloved India to take you to some places where many tourists don’t go! And some amazing places that you just can’t miss. This is designed as a holiday, not an endurance test, and we have made the itinerary a little more leisurely than some earlier tours, so that you arrive home refreshed and well. Be a part of our small group and join the fun!


Herbie’s Newsletter Spring 2019

What kind of meal do you think of when you hear the word “curry”?  The origin of our English word is Kari, meaning a spiced sauce.  The English took the idea back home from the colonies, and the classic Madras curry – well-balanced and flavoursome - became a staple in the English household.  The French, meanwhile, had colonized the Pondicherry area on the south-eastern

Newsletter Winter 2019

What is Single Origin? We see it emblazoned on tea, coffee, spices and other foodstuffs.  It’s pretty simple really.  If all your potatoes have been grown in the Hunter Valley, they are single origin from that region – they don’t all have to come from the same farm. If, say, a coffee blender buys beans from Africa and South America, and mixes them all

Easter Spice Essentials

With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to think about the spices you’ll need for your Easter recipes. For all those sweet recipes such as cakes, biscuits and hot cross buns, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cardamom are traditional, along with Mixed Spice. For extra fragrance and flavour, try using our Fragrant Sweet Spice Blend as an aromatic substitute. Easter is a great time

Herbie’s Kitchen July Recipes

It's that time of year when winter seems like it still has a way to go ... the evenings are still quite cold and mornings not quite light enough.  It's also when the immune system is put to the test with colds and Covid floating around. While we do not claim to be experts in medicinal spices, we do know that for thousands of

Is Chilli an Often Much Misunderstood Spice?

I awoke to the alarming news that the food regulator in Denmark has banned several varieties of a popular instant noodle brand due to it being too spicy! The regulator’s head of the Chemistry and Food Quality Division stated that the capsaicin levels were exposing consumers to chilli ‘poisoning’! Now, let’s think for a moment about what is going on here, and understand a

Herbie’s Kitchen June Recipes

With the much cooler weather we are enjoying curries even  more than usual (which is A LOT).  We have a huge range of Curry Blends, Spices, Recipes and Kits that span the large region of Asia and the wide varieties of curries you'll find.  From a coconut laden and fragrant Thai curry to a rich, deep and earthy North Indian curry, we have you covered.

Herbie’s Quarterly Newsletter

Welcome to Herbie's Quarterly Newsletter from the Spicery! We love our home-made pizza …. doesn’t everyone?  We usually mix up a paste using tomato powder and several of our other Herbie’s products in the pantry, and it’s so good that we think it should be available for everyone.  So, we’re happy to announce our new Pizza Sauce Mix.  Just mix half a pack with

Herbie’s Kitchen May Recipes

Welcome to the May Recipe Newsletter.  This month we are cooking with a host of new Italian Blends to the Herbie's range.  We now have a Garlic Bread Spice Mix, Bolognese Seasoning, Risotto Spice Blend and Pizza Sauce Mix.  This was enough to inspire us to create the ULTIMATE ITALIAN SPICE KIT, with these great blends, and Fennel Seeds and Chilli Flakes to round

Herbie’s Kitchen April Recipes

Welcome to the April Recipe Newsletter.  This month we are cooking with a wonderful selection of Australian Native Spices, Herbs & Blends.  It's great to see First Nations ingredients becoming part of the every day in Australian households and I hope you enjoy the recipes below. If you are new to cooking with Native Spices, try our TRUE BLUE kit, with 5 packs of

What is Mastic?

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

Herbie’s Kitchen April Recipes

LATEST RECIPES FROM KATE AT HERBIE'S KITCHEN   Welcome to the March recipe newsletter, with our favourite recipes for a spice-filled Easter.  For those off on a camping or self-catering adventure, check out our Happy Campers Spice Kit for some spicy shortcuts and holiday recipes and ideas.  You can see all the Easter category recipes HERE.     EASTER BREAKFAST PUDDING This take on

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter Autumn 2024

Isn’t it wonderful that our Australian eateries, even in country towns, offer a wide and diverse range of cuisines?  It’s taken for granted that we have a choice of Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and so many more, thanks to the migrants who have chosen to live here and share their fabulous food with us. Mexican is becoming popular, but seems to be

Herbie’s Kitchen Monthly Update February 2024

LATEST RECIPES FROM KATE AT HERBIE'S KITCHEN   We've been inspired by the recent Lunar New Year to revisit our favourite Chinese-inspired dishes. Spices are an essential part of Chinese cuisine.. the unmistakeable aroma of Star Anise, or the numbing effect of Sichuan Pepper and the bite of hot dried Chilli. We have a variety of blends to make your favourite dishes with ease.  For younger

Join the inner circle

Herbie’s Spices Inner Circle fills a need in the community of cooks and food lovers for early-access & upcoming events to all those hard-to-find herbs and spices.

Please enter valid email.