Three New Spices from Herbie’s Spices to Try in 2017

January 19, 2017 posted in Cooking

You may recall in a previous blog “Why Spices from Papua New Guinea?” I travelled to Port Moresby to visit chilli and ginger growers. Now, we are pleased to announce that we have three new and exciting spices sourced from farmers in Papua New Guinea.

The spices are:

So, why are they so special and how would you use them?

Chilli Powder, Hot Bird’s Eye

My journey began with a two hour drive from Port Moresby to the Rigo District to meet Daniel, a Bird’s Eye Chilli grower. I was particularly impressed with Daniel, and more importantly the heat, flavour and aroma of these chillies.

Did you know that the redder a chilli is, the milder the heat? Counter-intuitive as this is, there is a logical explanation as to why a bright red chilli powder (e.g. Kashmiri Chilli) is milder than a light orange-red chilli powder such as Bird’s Eye.

Chillies get their heat from a substance called capsaicin, which is in its highest concentration in the seeds and seed-bearing placenta inside the chilli. Small chillies are generally very hot, as the ratio of seeds and placenta to outer flesh is higher than it is in a larger chilli. In addition, the seeds and placenta are light in colour, almost a pale cream, so when these thin skinned small Bird’s Eye Chillies are ground, the powder will be comparatively light in colour.

Have a gentle sniff of the powder before using it (be careful not to inhale too deeply) and notice the tantalising, rich, almost caramel-like notes. This special chilli powder is about flavour as well as heat, that’s why a light sprinkle on my breakfast eggs sets me up for the day!

This chilli powder is excellent in both Indian and Asian curries, stir fries, chilli con carne, spiced pasta dishes and whenever a chilli lover wants a special hit.

Green Chilli Powder

Ever wanted that fresh-tasting heat you get from adding a green chilli to a recipe, but all you have on hand are ripe red chillies?

Despair no more, as this special Green Chilli Powder has been produced from fresh green chillies, de-seeded, sliced and carefully dehydrated to retain a Jalapeno-like freshness.

Green, unripe chilli is distinctly different from red chilli, in the same way that a red capsicum tastes different to a green one. During ripening from green to red (or in the case of some Mexican chillies from green to yellow or almost black), sugars form during ripening. Upon drying these sugars caramelise, giving dried red chilli a complex, robust flavour. Likewise sun-dried tomato tastes different to a fresh tomato, the sugars have developed full-bodied flavours during the drying process.

Use Green Chilli Powder in Mexican recipes. This green chilli also goes surprisingly well in Thai and other South East Asian dishes, such as stir-fries, green curries and hot and sour soups. It’s also great sprinkled into guacamole!

Sogeri Wild, Hot Ginger Powder

What makes Sogeri Ginger so different? Grown by cooperatives of small local farmers in the Sogeri District of Papua New Guinea, this wild variety of ginger has a unique pungent aroma and tastes very hot for a member of the Zingiberacea family.

All land preparation, tilling, planting and harvesting is undertaken with manual implements. Machinery is not used in these remote areas, which reinforces how much effort goes into the production of so many spices that we take for granted.

After “lifting” (the term used for harvesting ginger) these fresh rhizomes are washed, cleaned, sliced and dried then ground to a highly aromatic powder.

Sogeri Ginger is quite unique, so only use sparingly if substituting in a recipe that simply calls for ginger.

For cooks who like an extra frisson of heat, use Sogeri Ginger Powder in Asian dishes, Indian curries and beverages when a tingling, hot ginger taste is desired.

*Footnote

Why do these three new products have the allergen warning “May contain traces of peanuts due to agricultural practices”?

At Herbie’s Spices, we don’t take the easy way out of making a blanket statement like this on all our products. That may make life easier for us, however it precludes people with allergies from having access to many useful ingredients.

Having visited these growing regions in Papua New Guinea, and seeing that peanuts are grown and transported in the same vicinity, we believe that it is appropriate to include this allergen warning on some products.

Should consumers have any questions about our food safety policies, and declarations of allergens such as nuts and gluten, please click on this link to our website.

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For more information about spices, their history and much more including recipes, refer to The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill.

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