The Difference Between Spices & Herbs

Update: 3/29/19

A great reminder to utilize herbs and spices to flavor your foods with out added fat, sugar and sodium!

Herbs and Spices: These words are often used together, but what is the difference between them?  While both are seasonings, spices generally are stronger tasting and smelling.  Spices typically are derived from the bark, berries, buds, fruit, seeds, roots, or stems of plants and trees, while herbs are the more gently fragrant leaves of plants. Spices include cinnamon, clove and nutmeg while herbs include mint, parsley and cilantro.

When Do You Add Herbs?

When you add herbs and spices to your dish depends on the kind of seasoning you are dealing with along with the cooking time. Mild flavors like basil and parsley work best added at the end while bolder flavored herbs like bay leaves and sage can be added from the beginning.

Comparing whole spices to ground spices, the flavoring of ground spices is more concentrated and will infuse food with flavor faster than whole spices. Ground spices can be added in the beginning if you have a short cooking time while whole spices can take their time releasing flavor in recipes that require longer simmer times.

Before adding any leafy herb to a dish, rub them with your fingertips gently in the palm of your hand to release flavors and aromas. Toasting some spices like cumin in a dry skillet can also enhance flavors as well.