Top Ten organic spices!

May 24, 2019 6:19 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Why buy spices from us? Because they’re better than those you’ll get anywhere else, that’s why! We stock organic spices, as fresh as can be. Most of them arrive with us in 1kg bags and we break them down for our customers as required. We also stock ready-packed organic spices from Crazy Jack. Our organic spices are nothing like the little jars of powdery nonsense you might have languishing on a dusty spice-rack in a corner of your kitchen. These are the big, bold and beautiful cousins of those sad supermarket spices. They’re organic spices, bursting with flavour, with zing and with colour!

What's on our list of top ten organic spices?

Spices bring flavour to your meals, of course – in the case of our organic spices, they lift your meals from ‘hmm, really quite nice’ to ‘wow!’ But they’re also renowned for their health benefits, having been used medicinally since records began. Upset stomach? Try black pepper. Sore tooth? Chew on a clove. Warding off a cold? Turmeric’s your man. Flatulence?! Thought of cardamom?

With anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, the active ingredients of our spices mean that even as they jazz up your meal, they’re pepping you up too – and not just in the short term. A bowl of soup improved with a pinch of ginger may help to blast your cold today; in the long term, it might also improve your circulation and help to combat joint pain. Turmeric doesn’t just add a pleasing warmth to your curry as you eat it: it’s also believed to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in certain cancers and to have positive effects on cholesterol.

Whether you’re looking for spices for flavour or for health, we’d like to showcase our own personal Top Ten. (Of course, we sell significantly more than ten types at Naturally Good Food – you can see them all here.)

Our top ten organic spices

  • Cardamom (green) – one of the most expensive of spices by weight, it’s lucky that you’ll never need much cardamom at a time! But it’s a spice that’s well worth the outlay. You’ll find cardamon sold in the pod: once the seeds are exposed or ground, they start to lose their flavour. In the UK, we’re most familiar with cardamom in curries, but in Nordic cooking, it’s often used in baking. Healthwise, it’s thought to be effective in dealing with all kinds of intestinal complaints, easing and soothing everything from flatulence (as mentioned above!) to nausea and heartburn. It brings a particularly floral, slightly sweet warmth to cooking, both sweet and savoury.
  • Cinnamon – at Naturally Good Food we stock cinnamon bark, as well as ground cinnamon. Both bring the scent of Christmas into your home (and the scent of Scandinavia, where cinnamon is so popular that there are vigorous protests over rulings designed to reduce the levels of the spice in some recipes). Taken in the appropriate quantities, cinnamon is good for your heart and for blood sugar levels: some studies have shown that it has the ability to reduce blood glucose levels in those with Type 2 diabetes, while it also appears to be able to lower the level of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood, reduce LDL (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and prevent urinary tract infections. And, of course, it makes you feel festive!
  • Cloves – the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree native to eastern Indonesia, cloves don’t look much like other spices. You’ll find them in recipes for mulled wine and other drinks, as an ingredient to infuse flavour into stews and casseroles, and as a wonderful added extra to bread sauce or to ‘spike’ an onion. They’re absolutely delicious in apple pie! Cloves contain an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol, which it seems, can slow the damage caused by arthritis. Internally, they’re taken to help with upset stomachs – and they’ve long been a favoured natural remedy for toothache and other pains; applied topically, they numb and can fight bacteria.
  • Coriandercoriander seeds aren’t coriander leaf, but just like the latter, they work brilliantly in curries. The best plan is to toast them in a dry frying pan and then grind them in a pestle and mortar, to release their amazing flavour. You’ll find many claims for their health properties – perhaps the simplest thing to say is that they’re rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C, and are therefore great for combating colds. Ground coriander, meanwhile, brings a less intense, but slightly sweeter flavour, and the same health benefits.
  • Cumin – we love cumin for its warm flavour and pungent, but not overpowering, aroma. We sell whole cumin seeds, which are great roasted in a pan, adding a subtle spiciness to curries, as well as ground cumin, which has a much mellower warmth. Ground cumin works well in baking as well as in wintry soups and stews. It’s often what brings that ‘certain elusive something’ to a particularly impressive recipe. Cumin is high in antioxidants and is a natural antiseptic. It’s also thought to increase mobility in the intestinal tract by boosting enzyme secretions.
  • Cayenne pepper: this is a slightly underrated spice, but is one of my particular favourites, especially when sprinkled over the top of macaroni cheese or a bean bake. It’s a type of moderately hot chilli pepper, which brings a sweet warmth to these dishes. It has well-established health benefits: its oily compound (capsaicin) is actually the active ingredient in many medical creams. Cayenne is great for promoting circulation and metabolism and it works as a painkiller too, used in ‘patches’ to treat muscle, arthritis and nerve pain. When eaten, it can ease menstrual cramps. It’s an anti-inflammatory as well, shrinking the blood vessels in a blocked-up nose or sore throat, relieving congestion and inflammation.
  • Ginger: best known for its ability to control nausea, including travel sickness and morning sickness, ginger keeps our tummies happy! This spice helps us absorb and digest our food, cutting down on flatulence and bloating. It also stimulates the circulation, so is great for cold hands and feet, and combats inflammation. And of course, it’s one of the most warming, cheering of spices, equally at home in a curry as in a ginger cake.
  • Nutmeg –  home-made rice pudding, cooked slowly with lots of grated nutmeg on the top, is a sure-fire winter winner of a dish! With its warm, spicy aroma and flavour, nutmeg is used to flavour a host of cakes, puddings and custards, and is an important component of the classic bechamel sauce. It’s best to buy your nutmeg whole and grate it as it’s needed: a peculiarly pleasing activity!
  • Pepper – no kitchen would be complete without black pepper – we sell ground black pepper and whole black peppercorns. The latter are wonderfully fragrant, fruity little black bullets, so vibrant they actually make your fingers tingle as you handle them. Black pepper is thought to promote good digestion and soothe an upset stomach. It also helps clear a blocked-up nose. It has near-miraculous properties at stopping bleeding from minor wounds: it’s naturally anti-bacterial and helps blood coagulate.
  • Turmeric – turmeric might be the last spice on our list, but it’s pretty much the first spice in the world of medicine. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and is a strong antioxidant. Turmeric is thought to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in certain cancers, to have positive effects on cholesterol, to help with indigestion and to help fight colds and flu. Some research points to positive benefits in limiting the effects of dementia – and, most recently, scientific experiments have indicated a likely role in preventing the cell transformations associated with cancer, asthma and eczema. Read our blog: Turmeric to avoid cancer – a real link? for a discussion of one of those experiments. But of course, most of us use it to improve flavour, rather than health, in the first instance. Bright yellow in colour, turmeric brings a similar brightness, along with a peppery aroma and a musky taste, to curries, dhals, pilafs, chutneys, pickles, meat and vegetable dishes.

Want to know more about our spices? Read about them here:

Nature’s Medicine Chest: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and other spices

Warming winter spices: for the cockles of your heart

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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