The good taste is the result of the combination of essential oils, flavors, antioxidants, colorants, vitamins and minerals. Sometimes spice flavors are added.

The good taste is the result of the combination of essential oils, flavors, antioxidants, colorants, vitamins and minerals. Sometimes spice flavors are added.

What differentiates spice, spice preparation and spice blend?

Spices in the widest sense are blossoms, buds, fruits, seeds, barks, roots, rootstocks, bulbs or parts thereof, mostly in dried form. Herbs are fresh or dried leaves, blossoms, sprouts or parts thereof.

Table 1: Classification of the most important spices and herbs

Type of spice
Fruit spices
Pepper, vanilla, Jamaica pepper, chili, black mustard, juniper, anise, star anise, caraway, cumin, coriander, sesame, sumac, dill
Seed spices
Nutmeg, fenugreek, cardamom, mustard
Blossom spices
Cloves, saffron, capers, mace
Root and rootstock spices
Ginger, turmeric, galangal, horseradish
Bark spices
Leaf spices
Basil, parsley, savory, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, bay leaf, balm, mint
Bulb spicesGarlic, onions

When it comes to mixtures of herbs and spices, a distinction is made in the west between spice blends and spice preparations.

  • Spice blends are mixtures made up only of spices.
  • Spice preparations are mixtures of one or more spices AND other ingredients, which are added because of their taste or technological effect.

In the case of spice preparations, salt, sugar, oil, glutamate, yeast extract and starch derivatives are added because of their taste or technological effect. They often have a particularly intense portfolio of flavours. Spice preparations nevertheless contain at least 60 per cent spices, but they may also include spice flavours. When they are supplied to processing plants – for example meat processing plants or food manufacturers – they are also called spice products. For example, there are spice products for the manufacture of types of meat sausage with an authentic taste.

Table 2: The best known spice blends and their composition

Spice mix
... is a mixture of ...
Baharat (orient)
Pepper, paprika, coriander, clove, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon
Chili powder (TexMex)
Cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano
Madras curry (India)
Turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, caraway, ginger, chili, Jamaica pepper, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves
Five-spice powder (China)
Star anise, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel, cloves
Garam masala (India)
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, fenugreek, cumin
Herbs de Provence (France)Rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, fennel, lavender, chervil, lovage
Ras el Hanout (North Africa)
Turmeric, coriander, pepper, chili, bay leaf, ginger, cloves, aniseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, galangal, fenugreek, cumin


Table 3: Some of the best know spice preparations

Spice preparation
... consisting of ...
Chinese spice
Turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, galangal, pepper, mace, cardamom, allspice, table salt, sugar
Mulled wine spice
Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger, dried orange peel, sugar
Doner kebab spice
Salt, sweet paprika, pepper, onion, garlic, cane sugar, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, cumin, coriander, chili, allspice
Lebkuchen 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 powder, garlic, pepper, cumin, smoke jalapeño, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper
Soup mix
Carrots, parsnip, leek, parsley, celeriac, onions, tomatoes
Tandoori masala (India)
Cumin, coriander, pepper, chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet paprika, garlic, salt
Za’atar (Orient )
Thyme, sesame, sumac, coriander, aniseed, fennel, salt

Many of the mixtures are traditionally established, yet their ingredients can still vary. By eliminating salt from the recipe, a spice preparation can also quickly turn back into a spice blend.

Factors for a functioning powder moistening in the mixing process

Scent, taste and effect – why spices are fascinating

The fascination surrounding spices comes from the combination of essential oils, aromas, antioxidants, colourings, vitamins and minerals. These turn consumption into a sensory experience. Certain spices are attributed health-promoting properties. Other spices have a preserving effect.

The sensory experience provided by spices arises from the interaction of senses of smell, taste and touch. The experts talk about flavour. Using our taste, we can only recognise five basic types of flavour: “sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami”. It is only the sense of smell that opens up the wide number of differentiated aromas to us associated with the different spices. The volatile aromatic substances are contained in the spices’ essential oils. The sense of touch perceives the pungent substances in some spices. Pepper, paprika, ginger, garlic and horseradish thus trigger heat and pain stimuli. The capsaicin contained in chilis, paprika and red pepper in particular induces a type of painful pleasure. Because they stimulate the flow of blood in the taste buds, spicy substances also act as a flavour enhancer for basic tastes. They stimulate the appetite and ensure better digestion.

The route from the producer to the consumer is long and a good flavour can soon be lost. That is why methods of transportation, sterilisation, grinding, sieving, mixing, enhancing and filling have been specifically adapted to spices.

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Why spices are healthy

The sensory experience when enjoying a well-spiced dish is also closely linked with the health effect of the spice. Just the sight or smell of tasty food triggers as sense of passion and well-being in our body. Our mouth literally starts to water. Many spices even have an anti-bacterial effect, being able to inhibit the growth of disease-causing germs. The anti-bacterial property is connected to the content of essential oils. In this respect, the following can promote health: Aniseed, basil, chili, dill, fennel, cardamom, garlic, coriander, caraway, bay leaves, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, cloves, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, peppermint, allspice, rosemary, sage, celery seeds, star anis, thyme, cinnamon and onions. Antioxidants are seen as particularly healthy and can minimise free radicals. They can also extend the shelf life of foods by delaying their chemical and enzymatic decay. Natural anti-oxidants are found in rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, cloves, pepper, allspice and mace.

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