Poppy Seed Spice Profile


Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 4/10/18

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What are Poppy Seeds?

Poppy seeds have been used for over 5,000 years for culinary and medicinal purposes from Greece to India to Denmark. Today, the plants grow to a height of up to 3 feet in many countries of the world producing beautiful flowers in varying shades of red. Seeds are released only when the plant’s fruit or seed pods open releasing up to 30,000 seeds each. The tiny seeds are kid¬ney-shaped, bluish gray and less than 1 mm in diameter. Estimates show that there are close to 1 million seeds in 1 pound of spice.

The poppy plant has been used throughout history as a sedative as its botanical name somniferum implies. This is due to the legendary narcotic opium which is produced in unripe poppy capsules. However, the plant’s seed forms only when the capsules reach full maturity, at which point they have lost all opium potential. Therefore, poppy seeds do not contain narcotic properties.

What is it used for today?

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Poppy seeds, with their pleasant, nut-like aroma and taste, are used almost exclusively as a whole spice in baking. Though not as common, they are also used in some salad dressing and bakery seasoning blends. Examples include sauces, breads, pies, strudels or other confections.

To learn more about the spices and seasonings that Fuchs has to offer, click here. 


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Paprika Spice Profile


Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 2/20/18

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What is Paprika?

Paprika is produced from dried fruit pods of several varieties of the Capsicum family, which also produces red pepper and chili. The appearance of paprika plants is similar to that of red pepper, although paprika is grown and harvested primarily in Spain, Hungary, Mexico and the Americas. As paprika pods ripen, they turn in color from green to yellow to a mature bright red which is ready for harvest. However, the pods ripen at different times, and so harvesting must take place by hand, and may occur up to 6 times during a harvest season to obtain the maximum plant yield. After picking, the pods are cleaned, dried, and packed for shipment to the consuming country for further
processing.

Paprika is the most mild of the Capsicum family, and is used in America primarily for its color rather than its pungency. Not surprisingly, the brighter the color of paprika, the more costly it is. Paprika is typically classified by its ASTA level, which measures the extractable color, or color which comes from the spice upon addition to water or a food product. This measurement may be different than a surface color measurement, which is reported in L.a.b. numbers.

What is it used for today?

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As mentioned above, paprika is used in America primarily for its eye appeal in numerous blends. It may be found in soup, sauce, meat, topical snack or other seasonings. It is often included to add red-orange color or to enhance an existing color level.

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Thyme Spice Profile


Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 1/30/18

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What is Thyme?

 There are as many as 100 varieties of thyme found worldwide. Their flavors and fragrances range from mint to lemon, pine, licorice and even nutmeg. Many of the above mentioned types are small creeping varieties grown in rock gardens for their visual beauty and fragrant blooms. It is interesting to note that in the Middle Ages this delicate and fragrant plant was actually known as a symbol of courage. Ancient Roman soldiers bathed in thyme water to gain courage and strength, and knights of the Middle Ages often carried scarves that contained a sprig of thyme embroidered into the fabric.

The type of thyme which is primarily used in the spice trade is the sweet or garden variety. It is a member of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. The tiny leaves and flowers of the plant are harvested in bloom and dried to become the spice known as whole thyme. The leaves are about 1/4 inch in length and are grayish green in color. Thyme’s purple blossoms grow in clusters on its stem ends which may be upright or prostrate, depending on the variety.

What is it used for today?

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Thyme has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity in the United States and is used in various herb blends for meats, soups, prepared stuffings and croutons. It is a common ingredient in clam chowders and Creole seafood dishes and is one of the herbs used in the classic French Bouquet Garni.

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Basil Spice Profile


Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 1/23/18

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What is Basil?

Basil is a low-growing annual of the mint family. It is also known as sweet basil and is characterized by small flowers, depending on the variety, in varying shades of white. The plant grows to a height of up to 24 inches with oval-shaped bright green leaves up to 1.5 inches in length. It is this leaf that is used for its color and its sweet, aromatic clove-like flavor and aroma. Basil is typically harvested before flower buds open to ensure premium quality and flavor of the leaves. Though native to India and Asia Minor, many varieties of basil are now grown in the United States throughout the world.

Symbolically, basil has been associated with both good and evil. It has been considered sacred in India, but literature and other sources link the herb with death. Poet John Keats writes of Isabella, who kept the head of her murdered lover in a pot of basil to preserve it. It was also used as an embalming herb in ancient Egypt. In the Middle Ages, scorpions were believed to magically breed under a pot of basil.

What is it used for today?

AdobeStock 83212850Basil is often paired with oregano and has been a common complement to tomato-based products such as canned spaghetti or pizza sauces for years. It has also enjoyed popularity in the baking and snack markets as a component of specialty flavored breads or “Italian style” topical snack seasonings such as Sun Dried Tomato Basil and Pesto.

To learn more about the spices and seasonings that Fuchs has to offer, click here. 


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Caraway Spice Profile


Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 12/4/17

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What is Caraway?

Caraway seed is the fruit of a biennial herb which is similar to the carrot plant. As with all biennials, the caraway plant does not bear fruit (i.e., seeds) until its second year and is therefore often planted simultaneously with another crop which can be harvested in the first year. Two months before its harvest, round clusters of white flowers appear at the ends of smooth erect stems on the plant which reaches a height of 3 feet. When mature, these flowers give way to small fruits which contain
two crescent-shaped seeds commonly known as caraway.

AdobeStock 53739421Caraway is, by some accounts, the oldest known spice. It is grown today in The Netherlands and other parts of Europe, but Switzerland appears to be a primary early source. The seeds have been found in the remains of primitive lake inhabitants in Switzerland from over 5,000 years ago. Throughout history, it was used as a breath freshener and for numerous medicinal purposes. A Greek physician of the first century even prescribed caraway as a treatment for “pale-faced” girls.

What is it used for today?

The most common seasoning use for caraway seeds in the whole form is in rye bread. It may also be used in sauerkraut or other cabbage dishes. Though less prevalent, caraway is also used in its ground form in a number of sausage or other meat seasonings, especially deli-style meats.

To learn more about the spices and seasonings that Fuchs has to offer, click here. 


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