Herbie’s Spices Newsletter Summer 2022 – 2023

November 21, 2022 posted in General

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 of a gathering.

Spiced Chocolate Mince Pies

Ginspiration Spice Kit

Our Ginspiration Kit has been around for a few years now, with growing popularity as people realise what fun it is, and how quickly (in three days) they can have their very own creation ready to enjoy.  As we strained the whole spices from our most recent batch, it seemed such a shame to throw the gin-infused spices away that we tried creating a recipe using them.  Now we can tell you – don’t bother.  The spices have given their all to the wonderful flavour in the gin, and are no longer useful for anything else.

In the English language, the word “spicy” conjures ideas of chilli heat, and there is not a useful word that encompasses all the wonderful flavours of spices that are not hot.  If we accept that chillies, horseradish, wasabi, ginger and pepper are hot, we are left with all those other spices such as paprika, vanilla, saffron, mastic, allspice and cinnamon, that bring such delicious flavour to our food without any heat at all.  There is an entire family of seed spices – coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel, dill, nigella, sesame and many more – that add great flavour to food without adding any heat at all.  In addition to that, there all the herbs, and herb blends such as Herbs de Provence, mixed herbs, Italian herbs, without which our meals would be so much the poorer.

Middle Eastern Chick Pea Fries

Mustard Make Your Own Blend

When we think of spices that are hot, mustard stands out as a spice with its own characteristics.  Whole mustard seeds are often fried and added at the last moment to an Indian dish, where they give a lovely nutty crunch.  As for prepared mustard pastes, we all know that English mustard is hot while wholegrain mustard is mild, and there’s a reason for that.  The heat of mustard is activated by moisture – water gives a sharp, hot flavour; vinegar gives a mild, tangy taste; wine a pungent, spicy taste, and beer an extremely hot flavour.  Whatever liquid is used, once the desired heat level has been achieved, an acidic liquid such as verjuice, vinegar or white wine needs to be added to inhibit or stop the enzyme reaction and hold the mustard heat exactly where you want it.  If you want to do your own playing around with mustard, try a pack of our Make Your Own Mustard, which has a recipe on the back of the pack to get you started.

Bearing in mind that not all people love chilli and pepper heat, we have made sure that our new Single Recipe Kits have plenty of delicious, flavoursome, mild options.  For example, the Saffron Risotto with Chicken Cacciatore is delicious and mild enough for the most sensitive palate.  The Energy Ball spice kit blurs the line of “single recipe”, with four different ingredient options and a uniform method for all four options … we think we can get away with calling that a single recipe!

Mexican Barbacoa Beef

Mexican Barbacoa Beef
Mexican Barbacoa Beef

Handling Spices With Great Care

Sometimes people are bemused when they first use Herbie’s Spices, and they wonder why it tastes so much better than what they’ve previously used.  Surely, a spice is a spice?  It all comes down to quality. Spices are an agricultural product, just like apples, and similarly even at the farm gate there are variations in quality. If we bought cheaper spices, they may be older, poorly stored, just not as fresh so the flavour would be partly lost even before we packed it.  The longer spices wait around after they’ve been ground, the more flavour they lose.  So if we were to make a spice blend with spices that were ground a long time ago, and not stored particularly well, and if we were then to add some starches to pad them out, you could expect that the result would be different to what we are proud to sell at Herbie’s Spices. Our factory is air conditioned 24/7 so that the spices stay at their best until we are ready to pack them for you.   As we’ve always said, if we are not proud to put our name on a spice or a blend, we won’t sell it.

As mentioned above, spices are agricultural products, and any gardeners know only too well that plants thrive when the conditions are right.  Our cinnamon trees, native to Sri Lanka, are happiest with glorious sunny, warm conditions, and, with our third La Nina upon us, the cinnamon trees are not happy.  We prefer to only use our own leaves (called tejpat, or Indian bay leaves, used in Indian cooking) as the imported leaves are such poor quality.  Sadly, we are only able to harvest a small amount at present, and, although they are not at their sparkling best, they are still better than an imported alternative.

Cinnamon Tree with New Leaf Growth

Christmas Feast Spice Kit

With Christmas fast approaching, no doubt you’ll be cruising our range of Spice Kits to find the perfect gifts for friends and family.  We have just had our first post-Covid Christmas party, using several of the recipes in our Christmas Feast Kit, and it seemed a good opportunity to remind you all that this is NOT the kit to be unwrapped on Christmas morning!  This kit is full of fabulous, make-ahead food for your Christmas entertaining … handy any other time of year too!

Maybe the perfect kit for you might be our new Summer Box of IdeasIn our summer-sky blue box, the contents are: our tasty and mild Portuguese spice, ever-popular Rib Spice, summery Raita mix, family favourite Tandoori spice mix, and rose petals.  As always, we’ve had great fun and lots of pleasure in dreaming up the recipes, which we know you’ll enjoy sharing with friends and family.

Would you like to have access to even more recipes to brighten your family repertoire?  When you subscribed to this Newsletter, did you also opt to receive the monthly recipe update from Herbie’s Kitchen? Simply go to the bottom of the Homepage and enter your name and e-mail.

Have a happy, spicy, festive season!              Herbie, Liz & Kate

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