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Food flavoring / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In the culinary arts, a spice is any seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance in a form primarily used for flavoring or coloring food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Spices are sometimes used in medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics, or perfume production. For example, vanilla is commonly used as an ingredient in fragrance manufacturing.[1] Plant-based sweeteners such as sugar are not considered spices.

Spices at a central market in Agadir, Morocco
A group of Indian herbs and spices in bowls
Spices of Saúde flea market, São Paulo, Brazil

Spices may be used fresh and whole, after drying, grating, chopping, crushing, or grinding, or by extraction into a tincture. Such processing may happen before a spice is offered for sale, while preparing a dish in a kitchen, or after a dish has been presented for consumption (e.g., as peppercorns ground at the table). Some spices such as turmeric are not always available either fresh or whole and so must be purchased in ground form. Small seeds such as fennel or mustard may be used either whole or in powdered form.

A whole dried spice has the longest shelf life, so it can be purchased and stored in larger amounts, making it cheaper on a per-serving basis. A fresh spice, such as ginger, is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life.

There is not enough clinical evidence to indicate that consuming spices affects human health.[2]

India contributes to 75% of global spice production. This is reflected culturally through its cuisine. Historically, the spice trade developed throughout the Indian subcontinent as well as in East Asia and the Middle East. Europe's demand for spices was among the economic and cultural factors that encouraged exploration in the early modern period.