A description of many spices commonly used in baking and cooking. Learn what they are and find out how to use them here. Around the world for centuries people have been enhancing the flavor of their cooking and baking with everything from commonly used cinnamon and pepper to cardamon and cumin. Indeed, their very aroma sets our imaginations flying to exotic lands.

Learning just what each spice is and how to best use it will open up a new world of cooking for you. From soups and steaks to sauces and cookies, your choices will be many.

From now on, when you ask for pepper you might want to be a little more specific.

Fennel Seed

Subtle anise-like flavour and the seed head looks like dill when growing.

Can substitute for anise but use a smaller amount.

Widely used in Italian sausages, baked goods, and sweet pickles.

Seeds: Add to hearty fish soup.

Stir into yeast dough and sprinkle on baked goods before baking.

Nibble on lightly roasted seeds for a breath refresher.

Ground: Add to meat mixture for meat balls with spaghetti sauce.

Used in curries.

Used as an ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder.

Rub on pork before roasting.

Sprinkle lightly on pepperoni pizza.


A most versatile spice with a hot, spicy, sweet flavour.

Ground ginger and fresh ginger have separate uses.

Ground: Stir into sweetened whipped cream for a cake frosting or topping.

Add when cooking glazed carrots.

Use in baking especially gingerbread.

Mix with sugar and sprinkle on cookie dough before baking.

Stir into lemonade or iced tea.

Mix into fresh fruit salads.

Sprinkle with sugar on grapefruit halves, before broiling.

Fresh: use in Asian cooking. Combine with garlic. Add to stir-fries.

Crystalized: Used as a snack, and in baking and cooking.

Mustard has long been used in cooking. Mustard is more widely used than even pepper.

Yellow seeds (also called white) are most common, but seeds grow brown and black, too.

Black and brown seeds are used in curries.

Brown seeds are also used in Dijon mustard.

White and yellow are used in pickling, salad dressings and , of course, in commercial mustard.

Yellow and brown seeds are usually used to make dry mustard powder.


Add to pickling brine.

Add to simmering New England Dinner ( corned beef, cabbage and potatoes)

Dry roast seeds in a skillet until they pop. Stir into hot green beans.

Powder: To prevent clumping, mix to a paste with cold liquid before adding to any other food.

Add to white or cheese sauces.

Mace and Nutmeg

Both spices come from the same fruit of the same tree and can be used interchangeably. Mace is the lacy outer covering or skin of the nutmeg seed. Store in the refrigerator.

Whole mace: use in sauces, marinades, and soups. Add whole and remove before serving.

Ground mace: often combined with other spices. Strong flavour, use in small quantities, in spice mixtures, pickling, poutry, pies. Use smaller amounts if substituting for nutmeg.

Freshly grated nutmeg (using a nutmeg grater or the fine holes of a metal grater) gives a more intense flavour. Grate only as needed.

Stir into winter squash, root vegetables dishes, and mashed sweet potatoes, glazed carrots or parsnips.

Great in cream sauces, quich, custards, pastries, pasta and creamed spinach.

Stir into softened ice cream: serve on warm gingerbread or apple pie.

Used in hot cider, mulled wine and eggnog.


Made from dried sweet red pappers, paprika comes hot, mild (half-sweet) or sweet, which isn't hot at all. It should be bright red and adds colour and flavour.

The finest paprika is Hungarian.

Ground: Sprinkle as a garnish on any light coloured food.

Add to flour for dredging meat, chicken or fish before frying.

Stir with minced onion into cream cheese for a sandwich spread.

Rub on poultry before roasting or baking.


One of the most popular spices in the world.

Black is most common, but add a few white, pink or green peppercorns to your mill to spice up your grind.

Black peppercorns picked before ripe and allowed to dry. They have a stronger flavour.

Whie peppercorns are whole and ripe with the outer covering removed. Often used in light coloured dishes, like cream sauces.

Green peppercorns are not dried and are usually frozen or packed in vinegar and canned. They have a pungent flavour. Rinse before using and use quickly. refrigerate once the tin is opened, discard any blackened peppercorns. Often mashed with softened or melted butter and served with grilled steak.

Pink, or Szechuan, peppercorns are not pepper at all. Use in Szechuan dishes and curries.

Cracked or coarsely ground: Press into burgers or steaks before grilling or pan frying.

Freshly ground: add to spice cookie dough or gingerbread.

Grind on melon chunks.

Sprinkle sliced tomatoes with pepper and balsamic vinegar.

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