Warming spices can make any dish feel more seasonal simply with the shake or grind of the spice jar. Nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and (of course) cinnamon are all spices we can thank for some of the most familiar fall flavors, like those in pumpkin spice and chai tea.
Although these spices have become commonplace in our kitchens, many of them originate from all across the globe and have been used in different cuisines for hundreds of years.
Nutmeg is one of two spices grown on the evergreen tree. It’s native to Indonesia but is now used worldwide. In natural medicine, nutmeg has been studied for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, but it is important to note that these properties are currently in an ongoing area of research, and nutmeg’s full effect on the human body is unknown at this time.
Allspice, a commonly used spice in Mexico and Central America, grows on the pimento evergreen tropical shrub. The antioxidant eugenol is one of the many compounds in allspice, which is being studied for its anti-tumor and cell cycle disrupting effects. As always, further research is required to show this benefit in human subjects.
Cloves are the spice derived from the unopened flower buds of an evergreen clove tree. Cloves aren’t just popular as a spice- their oil has been studied for use in dentistry because of its anesthetic properties. When used in food, cloves produce a sweet and spicy flavor which is the perfect addition to our Apple Pie recipe.
One of the most popular spices is cinnamon which can be used in a variety of food and drink recipes. Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of trees in the cinnamon family, mainly the cassia. In 2000 BC, Egyptians used to import it from China because it was believed to be a sacred spice. Cinnamon has a long history of use in complementary and alternative medicine in addition to its culinary uses. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, cinnamon can add the perfect flavor to your dish.
While all of these spices are currently being studied for their antioxidant properties, their true effects on humans is not yet known.
Spices never actually go bad and spoil, however they do lose their potency. If you notice your spices have been sitting on the shelf for over a year, it’s probably time to restock. Try purchasing whole spices and grinding them as needed, as they stay fresher for a longer period of time. The best way to store your spices is in an airtight, cool, dark place. The limited exposure to heat and light will maintain your spices’ potency and flavor. Don’t forget to measure your spices. All of these warming spices pack a punch so remember: You can always add more but it’s much harder to take away.