In this article, we reveal five surprising facts about spices that we use almost every day.
White, green and black pepper comes from the same plant: Piper nigrum
All three types of pepper come from only one plant! Whether the peppercorns are white, green or black depend on what time they are harvested and which part of the plant is used. Green peppercorns are harvested when they're immature and are processed to retain their colour. They have a lighter, fresher flavour than black peppercorns. Black peppercorns are harvested when they are nearly ripe and are then dried in the sun, which turns them black. White pepper, on the other hand, is the inner seed of the peppercorn. To release the seeds, the peppercorns are soaked in water for a few days. The black shell can then be peeled off.
What you know as cinnamon may not be cinnamon at all!
The cinnamon usually found in the supermarket is made using the bark of trees from the Cassia family. It looks a bit like small, hard sticks. Cassia family trees are related to real cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum, which is also called Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is both brittle and delicate and has a finer flavour than Cassia bark. Ceylon cinnamon is usually more expensive than cassia cinnamon because it is less common.
Celery seeds contain a lot of sodium
Each teaspoon of celery seeds contains around ten milligrams of sodium. This means that using the seeds while cooking reduces the amount of salt you need. In addition, celery seeds are also rich in calcium, potassium and iron.
In their native Mexico, vanilla orchids are pollinated by a strain of stingless bees. For this reason, vanilla cannot be grown outside of Mexico. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a man living on the island of Réunion, discovered that it is possible to pollinate vanilla by hand. The flower must be pollinated on the day the flower blooms. If you follow this procedure, the plant can be grown in other countries. The labour-intensive manual pollination procedure is still used today, which is another reason why vanilla is still one of the world's most expensive spices.
Adding a little spiciness to your meal stimulates the taste buds. Food tastes sweeter and more flavourful than it would without the chilli, which means you don't need to add as much sugar to your dish. Instead of using chillies, you can also use Sichuan pepper to season your meals.