Aromatic Spices

Written by jenny harrington Google
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Aromatic Spices
Aromatic spices often have bold colours that further enliven a dish. (various spice bowls image by Martin Garnham from

Aromatic spices are prized as much for their strong scents as for their flavour. Unlike herbs which come from the leaves or flowers of plants, spices usually come from the bark or seeds of plants. Aromatic spices aren't just for seasoning foods, they also add fragrance to potpourris, decor items and personal care products.


Cloves have a strong flavour and aroma. They have a sweet pungent flavour that works well in sweet baked goods or on meats such as ham. This spice is made from the dried flower buds of the tropical Myrtaceae tree.


Cinnamon is most often used to add a distinctive flavour and aroma to baked confections such as breads and cookies. On its own, cinnamon is not sweet but it blends well with sugar and other sweet items. Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of the evergreen cinnamon tree. The bark is either rolled and sold as cinnamon sticks or ground and sold as a fragrant powder.


Anise has a distinct liquorice aroma and flavour. These small seeds grow on the Pimpinella anisum plant, a small herbaceous annual. The seeds come in star-shaped pods so this spice is often sold as star anise.


As its name implies, nutmeg comes from a nut. It grows on the Myristica tree, which is an evergreen native to Indonesia. The seeds are ground and used in a powdered form. Nutmeg's flavour and aroma add flavour to sweet baked goods and savoury sauces.


Turmeric is a key ingredient in most Indian curry spice blends. It comes from the dried root of the Zingiberaceae, which is in the ginger family. Turmeric powder is bright yellow and its strong aroma lends itself well to savoury dishes.


Dried ginger root has a spicy scent but it works well in sweet confections. It is often paired with nutmeg or cinnamon in cookies or cakes. When dried, powdered ginger is an aromatic spice preferred for sweets; fresh ginger root is primarily used in savoury dishes.

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