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A group of Indian spices and herbs in bowls.
A typical assortment of spices used in Indian cuisine
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, leaf, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavour, colour, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth.[1]
.Many of these substances are also used for other purposes, such as medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics, perfumery or eating as vegetables.^ This process is often used in labeling saccharides with fluorescent molecules or other tags such as biotin.
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

For example, turmeric is also used as a preservative; liquorice as a medicine; garlic as a vegetable. In some cases they are referred to by different terms.
In the kitchen, spices are distinguished from herbs, which are leafy, green plant parts used for flavouring purposes. .Herbs, such as basil or oregano, may be used fresh, and are commonly chopped into smaller pieces.^ HYGROSCOPIC. An antibacterial and antifungal agent commonly used in molecular biology applications, such as TBE (Tris Borate EDTA).
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

Spices, however, are dried and often ground or grated into a powder. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are used both whole and in powder form.


Classification and types

Spices can be grouped as:
.Herbs, such as bay, basil, and thyme are not, strictly speaking, spices, although they have similar uses in flavouring food.^ Moreover, it is a mild nonionic surfactant qualitatively similar to monoglyceride surfactants that are frequently used as food emulsifiers.
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

The same can be said of vegetables such as onions and garlic.

Early history

The earliest evidence of the use of spice by humans was around 50,000 B.C. The spice trade developed throughout the Middle East in around 2000 BC with cinnamon and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for embalming and their need for exotic herbs helped stimulate world trade. In fact, the word spice comes from the same root as species, meaning kinds of goods. By 1000 BC China and India had a medical system based upon herbs. .Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation.^ The active agent in a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat chronic myelocytic leukemia.
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

^ Bis-coclaurine alkaloid used for centuries in Chinese traditional medicine for cardiovascular diseases.
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

^ A naturally occuring furanocoumarin used to treat septic shock in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Chemicals 15 September 2009 5:17 UTC [Source type: Academic]

A recent archaeological discovery suggests that the clove, indigenous to the Indonesian island of Ternate in the Maluku Islands, could have been introduced to the Middle East very early on. Digs found a clove burnt onto the floor of a burned down kitchen in the Mesopotamian site of Terqa, in what is now modern-day Syria, dated to 1700 BC.[3]
In the story of Genesis, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers to spice merchants. In the biblical poem Song of Solomon, the male speaker compares his beloved to many forms of spices. Generally, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, and Mesopotamian sources do not refer to known spices.[citation needed]
In South Asia, nutmeg, which originates from the Banda Islands in the Molukas, has a Sanskrit name. Sanskrit is the ancient language of India, showing how old the usage of this spice is in this region. Historians believe that nutmeg was introduced to Europe in the 6th century BC.[4]
The ancient Indian epic of Ramayana mentions cloves. In any case, it is known that the Romans had cloves in the 1st century AD because Pliny the Elder spoke of them in his writings.[citation needed]
Indonesian merchants went around China, India, the Middle East and the east coast of Africa. Arab merchants facilitated the routes through the Middle East and India. This made the city of Alexandria in Egypt the main trading centre for spices because of its port. The most important discovery prior to the European spice trade were the monsoon winds (40 AD). Sailing from Eastern spice growers to Western European consumers gradually replaced the land-locked spice routes once facilitated by the Middle East Arab caravans.[2]

Middle Ages

"The Mullus" Harvesting pepper. Illustration from a French edition of The Travels of Marco Polo.
Spices were among the most luxurious products available in Europe in the Middle Ages, the most common being black pepper, cinnamon (and the cheaper alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. They were all imported from plantations in Asia and Africa, which made them extremely expensive. From the 8th until the 15th century, the Republic of Venice had the monopoly on spice trade with the Middle East, and along with it the neighboring Italian city-states. The trade made the region phenomenally rich. It has been estimated that around 1,000 tons of pepper and 1,000 tons of the other common spices were imported into Western Europe each year during the Late Middle Ages. The value of these goods was the equivalent of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people.[5] While pepper was the most common spice, the most exclusive was saffron, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor. Spices that have now fallen into some obscurity in European cuisine include grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom which almost entirely replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal and cubeb. A popular modern-day misconception is that medieval cooks used liberal amounts of spices, particularly black pepper, merely to disguise the taste of spoiled meat. However, a medieval feast was as much a culinary event as it was a display of the host's vast resources and generosity, and as most nobles had a wide selection of fresh or preserved meats, fish, or seafood to choose from, the use of ruinously expensive spices on cheap, rotting meat would have made little sense.[6]

Early modern period

The control of trade routes and the spice-producing regions were the main reasons that Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed to India in 1499. Spain and Portugal were not happy to pay the high price that Venice demanded for spices. At around the same time, Christopher Columbus returned from the New World, he described to investors the many new spices available there.[citation needed]
Afonso de Albuquerque (1453–1515) allowed the Portuguese to take control of the sea routes to India. In 1506, he took the island of Socotra in the mouth of the Red Sea and, in 1507, Ormuz in the Persian Gulf. Since becoming the viceroy of the Indies, he took Goa in India in 1510, and Malacca on the Malay peninsula in 1511. The Portuguese could now trade directly with Siam, China, and the Moluccas. The Silk Road complemented the Portuguese sea routes, and brought the treasures of the Orient to Europe via Lisbon, including many spices.[citation needed]
With the discovery of the New World came new spices, including allspice, bell and chili peppers, vanilla, and chocolate. This development kept the spice trade, with America as a late comer with its new seasonings, profitable well into the 19th century.[citation needed]
In the Caribbean, the island of Grenada is well known for growing and exporting a number of spices, including the nutmeg, which was introduced to Grenada by the settlers.[citation needed]

Handling spices

Spices can be available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or pre-ground dried. A whole dried spice, if available, has the longest shelf life so can be purchased and stored in larger amounts, making it cheaper on a per-serving basis. On the other hand, a fresh spice, such as ginger, is usually more flavorful, albeit more expensive, than its dried form. Others are rarely available fresh or whole, for example turmeric.[7]
The flavor of a spice is derived in part from compounds that oxidize or evaporate when exposed to air. Grinding a spice greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation.[8] Thus, flavor is preserved by storing a spice whole and grinding when needed. A microplane or fine grater can be used to grind small amounts; a coffee grinder[9] is useful for larger amounts. A frequently used spice such as black pepper may merit storage in its own hand grinder or mill.

Common spice mixtures

Spices and herbs at a grocery shop in Goa, India


Shop with spices in Morocco
The Gato Negro café and spice shop (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
A typical home's kitchen shelf of spices as would be seen in the United States or Canada.
Production in tonnes. Figures 2003-2004
Researched by FAOSTAT (FAO)
 India 1 600 000 86 %
 China 99 000 5 %
 Bangladesh 48 000 3 %
 Pakistan 45 300 2 %
 Nepal 15 500 1 %
Other countries 60 900 3 %
Total 1 868 700 100 %


ISO is has published a series of standards regarding the products of the topic and these standards are covered by ICS 67.220.[10]


The Indian Institute of Spices Research, located at Calicut (Kozhikode) in Kerala, India, is exclusively devoted to conduct research on all aspects of spice crops such as black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, garcinia and vanilla.


  1. ^ "Food Bacteria-Spice Survey Shows Why Some Cultures Like It Hot". ScienceDaily. March 5, 1998. 
  2. ^ a b A Busy Cook's Guide to Spices by Linda Murdock (p.14)
  3. ^ Buccellati et Buccellati (1983)
  4. ^ Burkill (1966)
  5. ^ Adamson, p. 65
  6. ^ Scully, pp. 84-86.
  7. ^ While "whole cinammon" is available, it is rarely true cinnamon but the inner bark from a similar tree. True cinnamon is almost always pre-ground.
  8. ^ Nutmeg, in particular, suffers from grinding.
  9. ^ Other types of coffee grinders, such as the burr mill, can also be used.
  10. ^ International Organization for Standardization (2009). "67.220: Spices and condiments. Food additives". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 

Further reading

  • Corn, Charles. Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade. New York: Kodansha, 1999.
  • Czarra, Fred (2009). Spices: A Global History. Reaktion Books. pp. 128. ISBN 9781861894267. [1]
  • Dalby, Andrew. Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Freedman, Paul. Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 2008.
  • Keay, John. The Spice Route: A History. Berkeley: U of California P, 2006.
  • Krondl, Michael. The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007.
  • Miller, J. Innes. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969.
  • Morton, Timothy. Poetics of Spice: Romantic Consumerism and the Exotic. Cambridge UP, 2000.
  • Turner, Jack (2004). Spice: The History of a Temptation. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40721-9. 


  • Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-32147-7. 
  • Scully, Terence (1995). The art of cookery in the Middle Ages. Ipswich: Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-611-8. 

See also

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

aromatic substances, of which several are named in Ex. 30. They were used in the sacred anointing oil (Ex 25:6; 35:8; 1Chr 9:29), and in embalming the dead (2Chr 16:14; Lk 23:56; 24:1; Jn 19:39, 40). Spices were stored by Hezekiah in his treasure-house (2Kg 20:13; Isa 39:2).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.
what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)
This article needs to be merged with SPICES (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 12, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Disease, which are similar to those in the above article.

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