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Excursus - The difference between spice, spice preparation and spice mixture

Spices in the broadest sense are flowers, buds, fruits, seeds, barks, roots, rhizomes, bulbs or parts thereof, usually in dried form. Herbs are fresh or dried leaves, flowers, shoots or parts thereof.

Table 1: Classification of the main spices and herbs

Spice typeExamples

Fruit spices

Bell pepper, vanilla, allspice, paprika, chili, black mustard, juniper, anise, star anise, cumin, coriander, sesame, sumac, dill

Seed spice

Nutmeg, fenugreek, cardamom, mustard

Flower spices

Cloves, saffron, capers, mace

Root and rhizome spices

Ginger, turmeric, galangal, horseradish

Bark spices


Leaf spices

Basil, leaf parsley, savory, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, bay leaf, lemon balm, mint

Onion spices

Garlic, onions

In the case of mixtures of herbs and spices, a distinction is essentially made between spice mixtures and spice preparations.

  • Spice blends are mixtures consisting exclusively of spices.
  • Spice preparations are mixtures of one or more spices and other ingredients added for their flavor or technological effect. 

In spice preparations, salt, sugar, oil, glutamate, yeast extract and starch derivatives are added for their flavor or technological effect. They often have a particularly intense flavor portfolio. Nevertheless, spice preparations contain at least 60 percent spices, but they may also contain spice flavors. When they are supplied to processing companies - for example, meat processing companies or food manufacturers - they are also referred to as spice preparations. These are available, for example, for the production of meat sausage variants with authentic taste. 

Table 2: The most popular spice blends and their composition

Spice blend

... is a mixture of ...

Baharat (Orient)

Bell pepper, paprika, coriander, clove, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon

Chili powder (TexMex)

Cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano

Madras curry (India)

Turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, ginger, chili, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves

Five spice powder (China)

Star anise, Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel, cloves

Garam Masala (India)

Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, fenugreek, cumin

Herbs of Provence (France)

Rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, fennel, lavender, chervil, lovage

Ras el Hanut (North Africa)

turmeric, coriander, pepper, chili, bay leaf, ginger, cloves, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, galangal, fenugreek, cumin


Table 3: Some of the most famous spice preparations

Spice preparation

... consists of ...

Chinese spice

Turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, galangal, pepper, mace, cardamom, allspice, table salt, sugar

Mulled wine spice

Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger, star anise, dried orange peel, sugar

Gyros spice

salt, sweet paprika, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cane sugar, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, cumin, coriander, chili, allspice

Gingerbread spice

Cinnamon, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, star anise, coriander, cloves, pepper, fennel, nutmeg, mace

Magic Dust (Barbecue Rub)

Sweet paprika, salt, cane sugar, mustard flour, garlic, pepper, cumin, smokedjalapeño, smoked paprika, cayenne bell pepper

Soup spice

Carrots, parsnip, leek, parsley, celery, onions, tomatoes

Tandoori Masala (India)

Cumin, coriander, pepper, chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet paprika, garlic, salt

Zaatar (Orient)

Fennel, salt


Many of the blends are traditionally established, but their ingredients can still vary. By taking salt out of the recipe, a spice preparation can also quickly become a spice blend again.

Factors for a functioning powder humidification in the mixing process

Why spices are healthy

The sensory experience of enjoying a well-seasoned meal is also closely linked to the health benefits of spices. Just the sight or smell of delicious food triggers pleasure and well-being in our bodies. The water literally runs in our mouths. Many spices even have an antibacterial effect and can inhibit the growth of pathogenic germs. The antibacterial property is related to the content of essential oils. Health-promoting can be anise, basil, chili, dill, fennel, cardamom, garlic, coriander, cumin, bay leaves, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, cloves, oregano, paprika, parsley, bell pepper, peppermint, allspice, rosemary, sage, celery seed, star anise, thyme, cinnamon and onion. Antioxidants are considered particularly beneficial to health and can minimize free radicals. They can also extend the shelf life of food by delaying chemical and enzymatic spoilage. Natural antioxidants are found in rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, cloves, pepper, allspice and mace.

Scent, taste and effect - why spices are fascinating

The fascination of spices lies in the combination of essential oils, aromas, antioxidants, colorants, vitamins and minerals. They make the pleasure a sensual experience. Some spices are believed to have health-promoting properties. Other spices have a preservative effect.

The sensual experience that spices prepare,

arises from the interaction of the senses of smell, taste and touch. Experts speak of "flavor". Through taste, we perceive only the five basic flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Only the sense of smell reveals to us the diverse aromas of the various spices. The highly volatile aromatic substances are contained in the essential oils of the spices. The sense of touch perceives the sharpness of some spices. Bell pepper, paprika, ginger, garlic and horseradish, for example, trigger heat and pain stimuli. Especially the capsaicin contained in chili, peppers and hot peppers makes us feel a kind of pain pleasure. Since the pungents stimulate blood flow to the taste buds, they also act as flavor enhancers for the basic flavors. They stimulate the appetite and improve digestion.

The journey from the producer to the consumer is long and a good "flavor" is quickly lost. Therefore, the methods of transporting, sterilizing, grinding, sieving, mixing, conveying, and filling are adapted specifically to spices.

Mixing tests in the amixon® Technical Center in Paderborn            

Read more interesting articles about "spices"

Excursus Part 1 Trends in the growth market for spices

Excursus part 3 sustainability, import and purification of spices


Please make use of the possibilities to carry out experiments in the technical center of amixon GmbH. We assure you a high gain of knowledge in advance.

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