The Spice and Herb Bible: A Cook's Guide

The Spice and Herb Bible: A Cook's Guide

by Ian Hemphill
     
 

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Cooks use spices and herbs to not only enhance food flavor, but to also create new taste combinations and sensations. From the vanilla bean used in creating ice cream to the cinnamon in fragrant cinnamon buns, it is virtually impossible to imagine a kitchen without spices.

The Spice and Herb Bible is a fascinating, authoritative history and reference

Overview

Cooks use spices and herbs to not only enhance food flavor, but to also create new taste combinations and sensations. From the vanilla bean used in creating ice cream to the cinnamon in fragrant cinnamon buns, it is virtually impossible to imagine a kitchen without spices.

The Spice and Herb Bible is a fascinating, authoritative history and reference source. Ian Hemphill describes a wide range of global herbs and spices which can be used in today's kitchen, either alone or in magical combinations. This book demystifies the art of combining herbs and spices, and introduces the home cook to worlds of tastes formerly to be had only at "exotic" restaurants. With delightful recipes and great tips for use and storage, The Spice and Herb Bible is truly an essential resource for any well-equipped kitchen.

- More than 100 spices and herbs listed alphabetically
- Quick, complete reference
- Storage and use details for each herb and spice
- Detailed color photographs of every herb and spice
- 29 spice blend recipes, including Garam Masala and Herbes de Provence
- For the novice and experienced cook

Author Biography: Ian Hemphill a native of Sydney, Australia grew up working in the family spice business. He managed a spice company overseas before returning to Sydney, where he opened a specialty shop bearing the nickname Ian has had since his school days: Herbie. Today, Herbie's Spices boasts the largest selection of herbs and spices for sale and export in the Southern Hemisphere.

Editorial Reviews

HortIdeas
Simply put, [Hemphill] knows his herbs and spices.
Rosemary Black
This book explains how to get the most mileage out of [spices and herbs].
New York Daily News
Publishers Weekly
Ian Hemphill grew up in a Australian family that pioneered in the spice business in the 1950s and it became his life's work. In The Spice and Herb Bible: A Cook's Guide he offers insight into the exotic scents and flavors of culinary herbs and spices. In this alphabetical guide, the author includes sidebars containing the botanical and common names of each subject, the family, flavor group and weight. Included are 32 pages of close-up color photographs of many of the 97 spices and herbs. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Can you imagine a world without spices or flavorings? Spices have been used from ancient times to enhance flavors, to mask unpleasant odors, and for medicinal purposes, among other uses. Historically, the acquisition of spices played a major role in the development of trade routes in addition to the survival of various societies. This title is a fascinating, authoritative history and thorough source of information about herbs and spices. Entries on each seasoning contain the following information: history, processing, buying and storage, use, common/botanical names, names in other languages, flavor group, weight per teaspoon, suggested quantity per pound, complements, "used in," and "combines with." Beautiful color photographs show what the spices and herbs look like in their original form. A special section about spice blending provides additional information that enhances our spice awareness. The author has spent his entire life involved in some aspect of the spice industry, from working in the family spice business to managing a spice company overseas to ultimately owning a specialty spice shop in Australia. Today his store, Herbies Spices, boasts the largest selection of spices in the southern hemisphere. Check out their Web site: www.herbies.com.au. This is a wonderful resource for both the novice and the experienced cook. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Firefly, Robert Rose, 498p. illus. index.,
— Shirley Reis
Library Journal
Australian-born Hemphill grew up on his family's herb farm, and he and his wife now run a specialty spice and herb market in a suburb of Sydney. His ambitious reference work covers more than 95 herbs and spices, ranging from ajowan to zedoary and including both the familiar and the exotic. The detailed entries (there are nine pages on vanilla alone) provide common and botanical names, origin and history, "flavor group," and tips on buying, storage, and use, along with a wealth of other information; most also include a recipe, and there are color photographs of the herbs and spices as well. In addition to the A-to-Z guide, there is a large section on combining spices and herbs, in blends such as Moroccan chermoula, Indian garam masala, and French quatre pices, among others. This invaluable reference is essential for most collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
New York Daily News
Spices and herbs lend flavor and fragrance to foods, and this book explains how to get the most mileage out of them.

— Rosemary Black

Books in Canada
A long overdue, essential kitchen tool for any serious home-cook. Here, finally, an easy to navigate encyclopedia of the flavors, scents, and perfumes of the world's cuisines, an aromatic gem of a book, as useful as it is weighty at almost 500 pages... This is an indispensable addition to any kitchen library, and one you'll find reason to consult alongside everyone of your cookbooks.

— Byron Ayanoglu

Rocky Mountain News
A terrific book.

— Marty Meitus

Healthy Cooking
Comprehensive information about all these natural ingredients that add flavor to food.
New York Daily News - Rosemary Black
Spices and herbs lend flavor and fragrance to foods, and this book explains how to get the most mileage out of them.
Books in Canada - Byron Ayanoglu
A long overdue, essential kitchen tool for any serious home-cook. Here, finally, an easy to navigate encyclopedia of the flavors, scents, and perfumes of the world's cuisines, an aromatic gem of a book, as useful as it is weighty at almost 500 pages... This is an indispensable addition to any kitchen library, and one you'll find reason to consult alongside everyone of your cookbooks.
Rocky Mountain News - Marty Meitus
A terrific book.
El Nuevo Herald, Miami, FL - Cristina Juri Arencibia
[About Second Edition] Un excelente libro... Pero lo más interesante de este libro es cómo ha sido recopilado, y que está escrito en un lenguaje comprehensible para la majoría de los lectores, además de ser muy infomativo. [An excellent book... But most interesting about this book is how it has been compiled, and that it is written in a language comprehensible for the majority of readers, in addition to being very informative.]
Darien Times (Darien, CT) - Susan Miller
Casual cook or culinary adventurer, everyone will enjoy parts or all of this guide.... The authors provide a multitude of details, all of which are fascinating.... Most recipes are appealing and easy.... Detailed, thorough but never pedantic, and especially well-illustrated.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778800477
Publisher:
Rose, Robert Incorporated
Publication date:
03/02/2002
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.25(d)

Read an Excerpt

VANILLA

Other Common Names

  • vanilla bean
  • vanilla pod
  • vanilla extract
  • vanilla essence

Botanical Names

  • vanilla (Vanilla planifolia, V. fragrans)
  • West Indian vanilla (V. pompona)
  • Tahitian vanilla (V. tahitensis)

Family

  • Orchidaceæ

Other side bar information

  • Names in Other Languages
  • Flavor Group
  • Weight per Teaspoon (5 ML)
  • Suggested Quantity per Pound (500 G)
  • Complements
  • Used In
  • Combines with

follows at the end of the main entry

Vanilla is a member of the orchid genus, which is the largest family of flowering plants in the world, encompassing some 20,000 species. Vanilla, of which there are about 100 varieties, is the only species of Orchidaceæ of any culinary significance. The most important variety, V. planifolia, is a tropical climbing orchid, its succulent 1/3 - 1/4 in. (1-2 cm) diameter stems reach 33 - 49 ft. (10-15 in) high by clinging to host trees with long aerial roots. The leaves are flat, fleshy and large, ranging from 31/4-10 in. (8-25 cm) long and 3/4 - 3 1/4 in. (2-8 cm) wide. They are rounded at the base and taper abruptly to a 'cow-lick' pointed tip. The slightly fragrant, pale-greenish flower is yellow-lipped and averages 3 1/4 - 4 in. (8-10 cm) in diameter. The almost cylindrical, angled 4-10 in. (10-25 cm) long capsules that follow, hang in clusters and are referred to as pods or beans. When fresh they have no aroma or taste, it is the cured vanilla beans that are the source of true vanilla flavor.

There are two other varieties of vanilla, however their flavor is inferior when compared to V. planifolia. West Indian vanilla resembles V. planifolia but has larger leaves and flowers and shorter, thicker pods. Tahitian vanilla is native to Tahiti and cultivated in Hawaii, it has slender stems, narrow leaves and small pods that taper at either end.

A cured vanilla bean is dark brown to black in color, averages 7 - 8 in. (18-20 cm) long, has a shriveled appearance with many longitudinal ridges and indentations and is as flexible as a strip of well-oiled bridle leather. A dusting of white, sugary powder known as givre sometimes appears on the surface; this is vanillin (the active ingredient responsible for vanilla's flavor) which has crystallized. When split lengthwise, a black sticky mass of millions of minute seeds is revealed, each one being no larger than a speck of ground black pepper. The aroma of a vanilla bean is fragrant, floral, sweet and highly agreeable. Similarly, its taste is rich, smooth and appealing, although the flavor can only be fully appreciated in tandem with its seductive smell.

Origin and History

Vanilla is indigenous to the south-east of Mexico and parts of Central America where it grows in well-drained soils that are high in humus from the surrounding tropical vegetation. Although it is not known when the Aztecs started using vanilla, its production had reached some degree of sophistication by the time the Spanish were introduced to it in a drink of chocolate and vanilla sweetened with honey, that was given to Cortés by the Aztec emperor Montezuma in 1520. So impressed were the Spanish with this discovery that they imported vanilla beans and established factories in Spain to manufacture chocolate flavored with vanilla. The flavor of vanilla was not its only attribute as it had apparently earned a reputation as a nerve stimulant, an aphrodisiac and was also used to scent tobacco. Although plants were taken to England as early as 1733, and were re-introduced at the beginning of the nineteenth century, all serious attempts to have them produce pods outside their natural habitat had failed. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that the reason for this barrenness, due to the absence of natural pollinators, was discovered and thus a satisfactory method of hand pollination developed. By the early twentieth century, vanilla was cultivated in Reunion, Tahiti, and parts of Africa and Madagascar.

Sadly the invention of artificial vanilla from the waste sulphite liqueur of paper nulls, coal tar extracts or eugenol (the oil from cloves)
nearly ruined the natural vanilla industry. Imitation vanilla was about one-tenth of the price of real vanilla and although inferior in flavor profile, accounted for the lion's share of vanilla flavoring used in the burgeoning global market for ice-cream, confectionery and beverages. By the end of the twentieth century, consumer demand for natural flavors and an appreciation for the superior nuances in the flavor of real vanilla, has seen some resurgence in the Mexican industry as well as creating opportunities for new producers such as India and Indonesia.

Processing

The production of vanilla is an extraordinarily labor intensive process, beginning with fertilizing the flowers, which has to be done by hand to ensure a good crop. This is because the flowers are pollinated in their natural habitat by little bees of the genus Melapona. There are either not enough of these bees around to pollinate the vanilla flowers or the vines may be growing in regions where these bees do not exist. To complicate things further, there is a small membrane in the vanilla flower that prevents the stigma and stamen from touching and pollinating. Therefore the painstaking process of bending the two filaments to touch (generally done with a small implement like a toothpick) has to be done to every flower in the plantation to ensure it produces a vanilla bean.

The successfully fertilized flowers produce pods in about six weeks, and six to nine months after pollination the green pods begin to turn yellow at the bottom tip, indicating they are ready for harvest. We were intrigued when visiting a vanilla plantation in Papantla in south-eastern Mexico, to learn that owing to the high value of vanilla beans, they were often stolen by bandits just before the harvest. The farmers we saw said this had been a big problem for them in the past, however the bandits were often caught because of the practice of literally branding each vanilla bean! Difficult to imagine as it is, they did brand each green bean, using a cork with some pins in it forming a pattern. This pattern was 'branded' onto every bean and it stayed there and even remained after curing.

You will have noticed that most vanilla beans are uniform in length and look quite straight. On the plantation we visited, the farmer removes any curved pods, leaving only the good straight ones to mature. As the vanilla pods don't all mature at the same time the harvest can take place over a period of about three months. The pods are picked and then taken into town where they are cured. The harvested green, tasteless beans are laid in boxes and put into a wood-fired kiln to start the drying and curing process in which enzymes naturally occurring in vanilla create vanillin. After about 24 hours in the kiln the vanilla beans are spread out in the sun to absorb heat, becoming so hot you would almost burn your fingers if you picked one up. At the end of the day the pods are gathered up and wrapped in blankets or straw mats and laid out to sweat on multi-tiered racks in a large shed that is protected from the weather. The vanilla beans go through this process on a rotational basis and are then stored for up to six months until they have turned a very dark brown or black and the head curer is satisfied that the curing process is complete. During this time a vanilla bean may have been handled 100 times or more, and what commenced as five kilos of green, uncured beans becomes one kilo of properly cured vanilla beans. The beans are then graded according to quality and strung together in tight bundles of 60-100 pods ready for export. Although one may think no job could be more pleasant than working with vanilla all day long, vanilla workers hav

Meet the Author

Ian Hemphill a native of Sydney, Australia grew up working in the family spice business. He managed a spice company overseas before returning to Sydney, where he opened a specialty shop bearing the nickname Ian has had since his school days: Herbie. Today, Herbie's Spices boasts the largest selection of herbs and spices for sale and export in the Southern Hemisphere.

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