Spice Terms

Spice Terms

Benjamin Favier

ASTA: American Spice Trade Association

ASTA Color: A rating based on the official ASTA method for determining extractable color; generally applied to paprika.

Aril: An accessory appendage of certain seeds (example: mace around the nutmeg seed)

Bite: The heat factor in a spice. Bite is experienced by the tongue, flavor through the nose.

Bulbiet: A small bulb or bulblike body usually borne on a stem (example: garlic).

Bulk Index: Cubic centimeters occupied by 100 grams of spice or seasoning.

Capsule: A dry fruit that splits open at maturity (example: sesame).

Condiment: A substance used to give relish to food; a seasoning.

Custom Blend: A unique blend produced to a food manufacturer’s formula or needs.

Decorticated: To remove the outer husk (example: cardamom).

Dehydrated: Process by which fresh produce is dried and converted to various forms for ease of handling and final use.

Distillation: A purification process in which a liquid is converted to vapor by the external application of heat and the vapor is condensed to the purified liquid by some means of cooling.

Dry Solubles: Spice extractives plated on a dry soluble carrier.

Encapsulated Seasonings: Extractives blended with a solubilized gum which is spray-dried. As the spray dries, the gum forms a protective film around the flavor particles.

Essential Oils: The volatile oils of a spice, which produce most of its flavor.

Extractives: Volatile and non-volatile components which produce a spice’s total flavor.

Extractable Color: A measure of the color a spice will impart to a liquid medium.

Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938:This act and its subsequent revisions set up the standards of identity and quality for edible spices in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration enforces these regulations.

Freeze Drying: A drying technique that produces an end product, which is dry, not frozen. The term comes from the material to be dried being frozen and remaining that way during the complete drying process.

Herb: The leafy products of culinary flavoring plants of the temperate zone.

Hull: The outer covering/husk of some fruits or seeds.

Indigenous: Native to a given place.

Oleoresins: Viscous, resinous materials extracted from spices, containing both volatile and nonvolatile portions.

Pigment: Any of various coloring matters found in the cells and tissues of plants and animals.

Piperine: A colorless, crystalline alkaloid found in black and white peppers.

Pungency: A slightly sharp sensation registered by the tongue and olfactory senses.

Rhizome: A creeping, underground rootlike, often fleshy stem (example: ginger).

Scoville: A method of testing and rating the heat level of capsicums.

Seed: The ripened or matured ovule, consisting of two coats, an embryo, and reserve food.

Spice: Any dried plant product used for culinary purposes to enhance the flavor and appearance of food. Historically, “spices” meant the tropical items, such as pepper, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.

Surface Color: The color visible to the eye which can be measured by reflectance (ex: paprika).

Vanillin: A colorless, crystalline compound which is the fragrant constituent of vanilla. It can also be produced synthetically.

Volatile Oils: Naturally occurring oils that are found in various plants, especially in the flowers and leaves, which give spices their characteristic flavor and odor.