A World of Seasonal Spices

comments (0) December 22nd, 2012

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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Familiar spices, like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, ginger and peppers came to us from around the world.Click To Enlarge

Familiar spices, like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, ginger and peppers came to us from around the world.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

While you were mixing the ingredients for that batch of gingerbread cookies, you probably weren't wondering how the ginger and cinnamon found their way to your kitchen.

But so many of the baking spices we rely on for our holiday sweets and other recipes came to us from around the globe. 

The crusaders returned home from their travels in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and brought with them the spices we still use today. Our holiday baking wouldn't be the same without the nutmeg, allspice or cloves they brought home.

Here are some of the most common Christmas spices used in holiday treats and where they originated:

  • Ginger...Southeast Asia
  • Cardamom…India
  • Star anise…China
  • Cinnamon sticks…Ceylon
  • Coriander….Mediterranean 
  • Clove and nutmeg…Indonesia
  • Chili pepper….Central and South America
  • Cumin…Mediterranean
  • Vanilla…Mexico

A traditional German hot spiced wine called Gluhwein (Glow Wine) features some of these old-world spices and is served as part of family Christmas celebrations and at Christmas markets both here and abroad.

Holiday Spiced Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
  • ½ cup water or black tea
  • ÂĽ cup sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Zest of half a lemon or lemon slices

Instructions

  1. Mix together sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon and water in a large pan and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and steep mixture 30 minutes or more.
  3. Add the wine; reheat until the mixture is steaming (not boiling).
  4. Strain the wine until mugs and serve hot.

posted in: Recipes, spices, winter

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