Spices add dimension to many dishes, but when whole spices are ground just before being added to dishes, even more flavour is released. Much like there is a big difference between fine, pre-ground black pepper and pepper that is freshly ground directly onto food, many spices can be used in your grinder or in a pestle and mortar.
Some of the spices that are best used in their whole form include the following:
- Cinnamon sticks
- Green cardamom pods
- Star anise
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Vanilla beans
Why Use Whole Spices When Cooking?
Looking to enhance the flavours and aromas of your deliciously spiced dishes? Buying spices in their whole form ensures that their health benefits remain intact, allowing you the full benefit of improved digestion, boosted metabolism and plenty of other advantages too. Here are some more reasons to buy your spices whole instead of ground…
- Spice up your rice. Make aromatic rice by adding whole cardamom, whole cloves and whole cinnamon while the rice is still cooking on the stove. Serve with your favourite curry, roast chicken, veggies or even fresh avocado to add extra flavour to any dish.
- Keep spices fresher, for longer. Using fresh spices and grinding yourself as and when needed helps to keep spices fresher for much longer. On average, spices that are whole last about two months longer than pre-ground spices.
- Give hot beverages a kick. Spicy chai tea tastes good, and offers some surprisingly good health benefits too. Add whole cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and vanilla to a pot of Rooibos tea cooked on the stove for a delicious spicy tea.
- Add a greater depth of flavour. For delicate yet fragrant curries, using fresh spices allows you to create a complex range of flavours that are often oh-so subtle, while providing more depth to flavour notes at the same time. This is because the grinding process releases the spice’s natural oils that evaporate after the spice is ground.
- Sweeten up desserts. Using whole vanilla rather than store-brought vanilla essence adds a world of flavour, making these beans perfect for a variety of sweet dishes. Split down the middle, scoop out the fine black vanilla seeds, and use in home-made custard, baked goods, ice cream and puddings.
In case you were wondering whether your finely ground spices were redundant; don’t worry – finely ground spice is good for smooth sauces, curries and other uses, and can be used alongside the suggested list of whole spices above to ensure that you get the benefit of convenience and flavour.