Frigid fall and wicked winter setting in? Get toasty with these Warming Spices!

Warming spices fight those cooler days!
Warming spices fight those cooler days!

It's getting colder (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least ). I thought we could look in more detail at those Warming Spices I mentioned in my Herbal Tea series. (This started out as a take on cloves, but soon expanded to several spices.)

So, which ARE the Warming Spices?

Allspice, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg and star anise.
Allspice, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg and star anise.

Allspice, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg, star anise are generally considered the basic warming spices. They coordinate well with orange, berry, chocolate and even some "hot" spices when creating a flavor profile in your winter foods such as stews, chilies, and of course, mulled cider- regular or "hard". They are all somewhat interchangeable for each in cooking, but there ARE some subtle differences. As usual, when I mention any possible health benefits of these spices, this is NOT a medical recommendation and I urge you to see your doctor before making ANY dietary changes.

ALLSPICE

Allspice - whole berries and ground.
Allspice - whole berries and ground.

Allspice got its name by those who thought it had the combined smell and flavor of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. (who would have thought!?) That being said, it is NOT a combination of ANY of these spices. And THAT Being said, it IS in the same botanical myrtle family as cloves! Allspice berries are dried in the sun, and then ground to release their unique aroma. Allspice is reputed to have a number of health benefits, mostly relating to digestive problems. Allspice is also a decent culinary substitute for cloves. Mace, which I did not separately list, is really the outer red covering of the nutmeg seed. Add it near the end of cooking since it can become bitter if overheated.

CARDAMON

Cardamon- a spicy-citrus flavor.
Cardamon- a spicy-citrus flavor.

Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of plants in the ginger family. The pods hold several small, black seeds: the whole pod can also be used, whole or ground.

The spicy-citrus flavor of cardamom is spicier and not as sweet as cloves. Combine it with cinnamon to achieve a flavor profile similar to cloves. Reported health benefits of cardamon include help with immune and digestive issues, including IBS.

CINNAMON

Cinnamon - raw, peeled bark, seeds and ground.
Cinnamon - raw, peeled bark, seeds and ground.

Cinnamon is actually the ground bark of the cassia tree! Cinnamon is best known as a spice, sprinkled on French toast and lattes. Bark extracts, however, have also been used in traditional medicine around the world. Cinnamon "shows promise" as an antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory, but there aren’t enough studies to make any claims for now. Just enjoy the tasty cinnamon buns with sugary icing (and forget about the health stuff, right?) Some cooks use cinnamon with a small amount of vanilla as a substitute for cloves. Remember that cinnamon will NOT dissolve directly in water the way that salt or sugar do, so add it to your recipes once the emulsion of other ingredients has been formed.

CLOVES

Cloves- dried buds that add so much to your foods.
Cloves- dried buds that add so much to your foods.

Tiny but flavorful, these aromatic dried flower buds of the clove tree- a type of myrtle- provide a warm, spicy, edge to stews, soups, sauces, meat marinades, rice dishes, and beverages, and a decorative touch to Easter hams and studded orange pomanders.

Ham studded with cloves.
Ham studded with cloves.

Cloves are a perfect combination of pungent, sweet, strong, bitter and warm, mostly created from the terpene eugenol.

Clove-studded oranges- decorative aromatic for the holidays!
Clove-studded oranges- decorative aromatic for the holidays!

That major terpene- eugenol, as mentioned in my prior Take- is also a potent anesthetic, widely used in the dental profession.

Eugenol- a major ingredient of clove oil- is used in dentistry for pain relief.
Eugenol- a major ingredient of clove oil- is used in dentistry for pain relief.

NUTMEG

Nutmeg- whole seeds and ground.
Nutmeg- whole seeds and ground.

Nutmeg is dried the seed of the nutmeg tree. It is usually pre-ground or grated fresh from the seed in cooking. Nutmeg has a flavor and smell similar to both cloves and cinnamon, and is a decent substitute for either in your recipes.

STAR ANISE

Star anise- distinctive pods and seeds.
Star anise- distinctive pods and seeds.

As do cloves, Star anise also contains eugenol: this is why star anise can also be a substitute for cloves. However, star anise has a flavor that is slightly more bitter with a licorice edge to it. Both star anise and cloves also contain anethole, a proven antiseptic. Enjoy it for it's eye-catching eight-point-star aesthetic and licorice aroma when decorating for the fall holidays!

Hopefully, these similar, complementary Warming Spices will give you a nice, toasty feeling this fall and winter. If not - - -

- - - turn up the heat with the capsicum in cayenne or serrano peppers!
- - - turn up the heat with the capsicum in cayenne or serrano peppers!
Frigid fall and wicked winter setting in? Get toasty with these Warming Spices!
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Most Helpful Guys

  • Great take and photos... appears you are quite the culinary expert!

    I started making smoothies out of most of the above... add pumpkin and few other things. Quite good and energizing! Also... they work in protein balls!
    Is this still revelant?
    • Massageman

      Thanks for reading. Adding a little more detail on spices from the Herbal Tea Takes that are appropriate for fall and winter.

  • Cinnamon or tea or hot chocolate
    Is this still revelant?
    • Massageman

      Have your hot chocolate ala Incan or Aztec version by putting the cinnamon INTO it! Thanks for reading.

Most Helpful Girl

  • Moonchild714
    Nice, thank you for taking the time to put this together.
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • VeggiePizzaDude
    When the mercury starts to bow to father winter I have my own economic way of keeping warm. I merely think of spicy things like to tobacco sauce and tomatoes or hot women which keeps my core temp. at a comfortable level. The heat of my thoughts is so powerful that it can radiate out of my very body and give hypothermia to my neighbors. It's amazin'!
  • mateynine
    I was 28f at night in Texas a few days ago.

The only opinion from girls was selected the Most Helpful Opinion, but you can still contribute by sharing an opinion!

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