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Chemistry LibreTexts

9: Spices

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    • 9.1: Elements of Taste
      Essentially there are a handful of elements that compose all of the taste profiles found in the foods we eat. Western definitions of taste conventionally define four major elements of taste: Salty Sweet Sour Bitter Asian cultures have added the following to the list: Umami (literally “pleasant savory taste”) Spiciness Astringency
    • 9.2: Introduction to Salt
      Salt can be found deposited in Earth’s layers in rock salt deposits. These deposits formed when the water in the oceans that covered Earth many millions of years ago evaporated. The salt was then covered by various types of rocks. Common salt (sodium chloride) is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. An average adult consumes about 7 kg (15 lb.) per year.
    • 9.3: Origins of Salt
    • 9.4: Functions of Salt in Baking
      Salt has three major functions in baking. It affects: (1) Fermentation, (2) Dough, and (3) conditioning Flavor
    • 9.5: Using Salt in Fermented Doughs
    • 9.6: Storing Salt
      Salt is very stable and does not spoil under ordinary conditions. However, it may have a slight tendency to absorb moisture and become somewhat lumpy and hard. Therefore, it is advisable to store it in a clean, cool, and dry place. Inasmuch as salt can absorb odors, the storage room should be free from any odor that might be taken up and carried by the salt.
    • 9.7: Introduction to Spices and Other Flavorings
      Food touches all of the senses. We taste, we smell, we see color and shape, we feel texture and temperature, and we hear sounds as we eat. All of these elements together create a palette with an infinite number of combinations, but the underlying principles that make food taste good are unchanged.
    • 9.8: Seasoning and Flavoring
      Many ingredients are used to enhance the taste of foods. These ingredients can be used to provide both seasoning and flavoring.
    • 9.9: Herbs
      Herbs tend to be the leaves of fragrant plants that do not have a woody stem. Herbs are available fresh or dried, with fresh herbs having a more subtle flavor than dried. You need to add a larger quantity of fresh herbs (up to 50% more) than dry herbs to get the same desired flavor. Conversely, if a recipe calls for a certain amount of fresh herb, you would use about one-half of that amount of dry herb.
    • 9.10: Spices
      Spices are aromatic substances obtained from the dried parts of plants such as the roots, shoots, fruits, bark, and leaves. They are sold as seeds, blends of spices, whole or ground spices, and seasonings. The aromatic substances that give a spice its particular aroma and flavor are the essential oils. The flavor of the essential oil or flavoring compound will vary depending on the quality and freshness of the spice.
    • 9.11: Flavorings in Baking
      Flavors cannot be considered a truly basic ingredient in bakery products but are important in producing the most desirable products.

    Thumbnail: Spices and herbs at a shop in Goa, India. (CC BY 2.0; judepics).

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez (American University). Chemistry of Cooking by Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted