10 Cool Facts About Herbs and Spices
Do you know the real difference between herbs and spices? Those two terms are often used side-by-side or interchangeably, but according to dictionaries everywhere herbs are plant leaves (fresh or dry) while spices are every other part of the plant including roots, stems, flowers, seeds and berries (most commonly dry). This means that plants with edible leaves and seeds (like dill) are both herbs and spices.
Allspice isn’t all the spices. Lots of people are surprised to learn that allspice isn’t a combination of multiple spices. It’s a dry berry from parts of Northern Latin America and the Caribbean. English explorers named it allspice because its aroma has suggestive notes of cinnamon, cloves, and other recognisable spices.
Ants become confused by peppermint. Not that peppermint is particularly cryptic – but it is highly aromatic. Ants communicate by leaving chemical trails for their buddies following close behind. If you sprinkle some chopped, crushed peppermint (or essential oil) near an ant trail, you can break the chemical trail and disband the army.
Catnip isn’t just for cats. To felines, catnip delivers a blissful high or laid back mellow aroma. Consumed by humans as tea, catnip provides relief for headaches, anxiety and insomnia.
Many people miss out on the best part of garlic! Everyone thinks the main event is underground. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to pop off some garlic scapes and get cooking. Before your garlic is even ready to harvest, you can snap off their curly, pointy flower stems for concentrated garlic flavour. Pick them young while they’re still tender and enjoy!
Pesky insects hate beautiful herbal bouquets. There’s no bigger turn-off than spraying pungent, toxic chemicals near an outdoor dinner table. Who wants to eat when opening your mouth lets in that repellent flavour? Luckily you can make a nice herbal bouquet from hibiscus, catnip, basil, lemongrass, peppermint, and/or lavender to grace your table, please your guests, and repel décor-hating flies and mosquitos.
Basil has ritual uses. No, pizza-making is not exactly a ritual. I’m talking about soul-cleansing, home-purifying rituals that were meant to rid a person or place of bad energy. It has long been thought to ward off bad spirits. Is it just a coincidence that a delicious basil-loaded pizza is never accompanied by bad energy?
Marjoram can fight off the devil himself. Yes, the devil along with all his cohort: witches, vampires, ghosts and trolls.
Oregano is a powerful substance in folklore from all over the world. It’s been said to do many things: sleeping with oregano on your head was once thought to trigger psychic dreams; Ancient Greeks asserted that it’s an antidote to man poisons; Shakespeare’s peers believed it could stop a drug overdose in its tracks. I believe it has the power to make a fragrant, mouth-watering plate of pasta.
Rosemary has long been used for memory and energy. Ever since the days of ancient Greek scholars, rosemary has had a reputation for this effect. These old-school academics would wear rosemary garlands, braid it into their hair, or dab its oil on their heads to improve mental capabilities while studying.