History of Spices

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					Ancient, Mysterious, & Exotic
 What are your favorite foods?
 What flavors make them special?
 What would your favorite foods
 taste like without spices,
 seasonings, or herbs?
 Spices and herbs have played a dramatic role in the
  development of Western Civilization as we will learn.
 Today, spices and herbs are used mostly as flavorings
  for foods and occasionally as medicines.
 In ancient and medieval times, spices and herbs were
  rare and precious products, used for medicine,
  perfume, incense, flavorings, beauty treatments, and
 For centuries, Arabs controlled the
    trading of spices from the Far East.
   The earliest recorded use of a spice
    (sesame) was noted in an Assyrian
   The first real evidence of spice use
    came from the writings and artwork of
    early civilizations
   Hieroglyphs in the Great Pyramid at
    Giza, Egypt show workers eating garlic
    and onions for strength.
   In 1453 BC, the first Greek Olympians
    wore garlands of bay leaves and
   In 400 BC Hippocrates listed more
    than 400 herbs and spices for medical
    use, half of which are still used today
 During this period, the
  Romans controlled the Spice
 At the time, it was a great and
  dangerous 2 year voyage on
  the sea to sail from Egypt to
  India to gather pepper,
  cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves,
  and ginger.
 Until, a Greek merchant
  sailor, Hippalus, noticed that
  the changing winds could be
  used to shorten the voyage to
  less than a year
 Europeans explore passages to the
    East Indies
   Late 13th century, Marco Polo’s
    exploration of Asia establishes
    Venice as the most important trade
    port in the world
   By 1498 the Portuguese & Spanish
    began searching for their own spice
    producing lands
   Shortly after , Vasco de Gama
    (Port.) sailed around the Cape of
    Good Hope, Africa to reach
    Calcutta, India, returning with
    pepper, cinnamon, jewels, and trade
    deals with Indian princes.
   In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean
    blue and brought back allspice,
    vanilla, and red peppers from the
    West Indies for Spain.
 WAR! Spain, Portugal, England, &
  Holland fight for control of the spice
 In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan (Spain)
  sails west around the world. One of
  his ships returns with enough
  pepper and spices to deem it a
  financial success despite the loss of
  4 ships & crews and the death of
 By 1608, the Dutch had gained
  control of the cinnamon spice trade,
  and by 1663 they established
  exclusive trading rights fro pepper
  with Western India
 Around 1600, the English
  began to take control of
  the trade routes to India
 In 1780, the Dutch and
  English go to war over
  the spice trade routes.
  England is victorious and
  destroys the Dutch hold
  on the spice trade.
 By 1799, the Dutch had
  lost all of their spice
  trading centers
 By 1672, Americans enter
  the spice trade.
 Boston born, Elihu Yale
  begins his own spice
  trading business, making a
  fortune, and starts a
  university, Yale.
 In 1835, Texan settlers
  develop chili powder
 In 1889, food researchers in
  Watsonville, CA developed
  the techniques for
  dehydrating onions and
 Spices are the various strong flavored
 or aromatic substances of vegetable
 origin, commonly used as condiments
 or employed for other purposes on
 account of their fragrance and
 preservation qualities
 Spices have 2 main components:
 1- Volatile Oils (essential oils) which are responsible
  for the characteristic aroma of spices
 2- Oleoresins (non-volatile extracts) which are
  responsible for the typical taste and flavor of spices
 Colors should be vibrant
 Aroma should be pleasant
 Purchase small amounts at a time to ensure freshness
 Cut or powdered spices have more surface area exposed to
  air, so they lose their flavor more rapidly
 Store spices and herbs in cool, dry places away from
  exposure to light, heat, moisture, and oxygen
 Avoid storage that is too close to cooking ranges, ovens,
  dishwasher, or refrigerator.
 Store herbs and spices in airtight containers to help protect
  them from moisture and preserve the oils that give them
  their flavor and aroma
Leaves & Flowers

Whole    1 year

Ground 6 months

 Seeds and Bark

Whole    2 years

Ground 6 months


Whole     2 years

Ground    6 months
 LIGHT: color pigments
 are photosensitive and
 oxidize in light

 HUMIDITY: dry spices
 tend to attract water and

 OXYGEN: essential oils
 oxidize, especially at high
 1. What spices were shown on the hieroglyphs in the
    Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt?
   2. Which famous American university was funded
    from the financial success of the spice trade?
   3. What state was chili powder developed in?
   4. What was the preservation technique for onions
    and garlic that was developed in Watsonville, CA?
   5. What are the 3 factors that affect the quality of
    stored spices?
   1. Garlic & Onions
   2. Yale
   3. Texas
   4. Dehydration
   5. Light, humidity, and oxygen

Scoring :
5 : Caliente! Your Hot, Spice
3-4: Medium spicy
1-2: Mild spice. Add a little bit
   more BAM! Don’t be afraid to
   “Kick it up a notch!”

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