The Difference between Herbs and Spices

Bogdan Oasa September 09, 2020

Whether they’re cooking at home or at a five-star restaurant, every chef uses herbs and spices. Both ingredients add flavor to dishes in unique ways. This article explains the difference between herbs and spices for people who want to know a bit more about what’s in their kitchen pantries.

Herbs

Both herbs and spices come from plants. However, herbs are taken from the fresh part of the plant (the leaves), and spices are usually procured from the plant’s roots. Herbs have a much subtler taste than spices, but that doesn’t mean cooking enthusiasts shouldn’t stock up on the ingredient. Basil, cilantro, and mint are all common examples of herbs that most chefs are familiar with. Although these items don’t carry much of a punch, they add a unique taste to every meal they’re a part of.

Another benefit of using herbs is that they make excellent garnishes. Home chefs who want to impress their friends at an elegant dinner party could consider adding basil on top of a glazed chicken. The garnish will help the dish look more sophisticated and provide a hint of freshness.

Spices

People who enjoy eating bolder meals full of flavor likely have full spice racks in their kitchens. Spices are taken from the dry part of plants, and they provide a stronger kick than their herb counterparts. Cinnamon is one of the most commonly used spices because it’s incredibly versatile, and it can be used in more robust meals or sweeter-tasting desserts. Surprisingly, vanilla is a spice derived from an orchid plant. SloFoodGroup has a wide variety of vanilla products, including ground vanilla bean powder, for people looking for an easier way to add the ingredient to a recipe.

Another distinguishable difference between herbs and spices is how they’re stored. Spices are usually stored in glass jars because they usually come in a ground format. Herbs, on the other hand, have to be refrigerated to stay fresh. Chefs should probably shy away from herbs if they aren’t planning on using them for a few weeks.

People often use the terms “herbs” and “spices” interchangeably. However, as this piece has shown, you’d be incorrect in doing so. Each flavoring agent comes from different parts of plants, which is ultimately what makes them so different.





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