How-To Spice Up The Holidays
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about the holidays are the tastes and scents of the season; memories that are connected to those smells can be brought up in an instant with the lighting of a scented candle, a warm cup of cocoa, and a savory or sweet holiday dish. Here is a list of herbs and spices (along with a list of holiday recipes) that are commonly associated with the holidays.
- Allspice, also known as Jamaica pepper, is the dried unripe berry of the Pimenta tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America. Contrary to the name, it really is just one spice! While allspice is a staple ingredient in Caribbean cuisine (e.g., Jamaican jerk seasoning), in the United States we mostly use allspice in cookies, cakes, and breads as the flavor is similar to a that of a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
- Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum and commonly associated with the winter holidays. It’s used mainly as an aromatic condiment and flavoring additive in a wide variety of cuisines as well as holiday décor.
- Clove is an ancient spice native to Indonesia and are the aromatic flower buds of a tropical evergreen tree of the family Myrtaceae. It has a warm, sweet and slightly bitter taste, and it’s hugely versatile. It can flavor meats and stews, rich sauces and plenty of desserts like pies. Clove is traditionally ground to enhance the taste of gingerbread and fruitcake over the holidays.
- Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. It has a warm and woody flavor that enhances gingerbread cookies and cakes.
- Nutmeg is the spice made by grinding the seed of the fragrant nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) tree into powder. The spice has a distinctive pungent fragrance and a warm slightly sweet taste; it is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog.
- Peppermint is a strongly aromatic perennial herb of the mint family Lamiaceae. It has a strong sweetish odor and a warm pungent taste with a cooling aftertaste. The leaves are typically used fresh as a culinary herb, and the flowers are dried and used to flavor candy, desserts, beverages, salads, and other foods.
- Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean and is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. The leaves have a pungent, slightly bitter taste and are generally used, dried or fresh, to season foods, particularly lamb, duck, chicken, sausages, seafood, stuffings, stews, soups, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, other vegetables, and beverages.
- Star Anise are the dry fruits of the star anise tree (llicium verum) and native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. The spice resembles anise in flavor and the highly fragrant oil is used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams.
Holiday Recipes with Herbs & Spices
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