9 Essential Herbs & Spices for the Home Cook

Herbs and spices are an essential element of your store cupboard. They are a fast and effortless way to add a punch of flavour to your cooking – and the good news is that you don’t need a whole host of exotic spices or herbs to start your collection. What’s more, being a store cupboard ingredient, they can always be there, ready at hand for when you want to add an extra hit to whatever you’re cooking.

If you’re overwhelmed by the choice of herbs and spices on the supermarket shelves, then read on to discover our guide to the main herbs and spices every kitchen store cupboard should have.

1. Black Peppercorns

black-peppercorns

 

No chef worth their salt would be without a large stock of freshly ground black peppercorns. It’s often referred to as the ‘King of spices’ and it’s a well-deserved title. Black pepper adds flavour to everything from soups and stews to strawberries (it’s true, the pepper perfectly balances the sweetness!). Give it a try – you can thank us later.

The staple of seasoning, black peppercorns are ideal because they can be freshly ground, adding the piquant edge you’re looking for.

2. Smoked Paprika

paprika

 

Smoked paprika originates in Spain and is created by grinding pimento – a Spanish pepper – to provide a rich, smoky kick to food. Smoked paprika is popular with barbecued foods, and tastes best when it’s heated to unlock the full flavour.

Try smoked paprika in Hungarian recipes – we love a hearty vegetarian Hungarian goulash, packed with butter beans and veggies for an easy midweek supper. Paprika will also be the spice you reach for when cooking Mexican food too.

3. Oregano

oregano

 

You’ve probably tasted oregano on top of your favourite pizza or pasta dishes. Comprising the leaves of the oregano plant, the herb can be used fresh or dried and has an earthy, fairly bitter taste.

Oregano can be used to make an alternative vegan green pesto when blended with hazelnuts, and served spooned over gnocchi, grilled veggies or stirred through pasta ribbons. It’s delightfully simple but deliciously amazing.

4. Ground Coriander

ground-coriander

 

Ground coriander is derived from the cilantro plant and has a mild, slightly floral aroma and lemony flavour that works particularly well in the base sauce for many Indian dishes. It’s one of the most flexible herbs, pairing well with lentils, beans, cauliflower and couscous.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy coriander is to make a batch of carrot and coriander soup. It’s packed with nutrients and makes a warming weekend lunch to return home to after a winter’s walk. Or pop some into a fresh salad for a more fragrant taste.

5. Thyme

thyme

 

Thyme is a versatile herb that adds a woody, smoky taste to foods. The longer thyme is cooked, the more intense the flavour will be. The stems are fibrous so if you’re using thyme stems in your dish, discard them before serving.

Most of us use thyme in savoury dishes, and it should definitely feature in many classic English dishes. But it also lends itself well to desserts, and even cocktails too. Try baking an indulgent lemon and thyme shortbread or adding a sprig of the herb to an ice-cold gin and tonic – delicious!

6. Turmeric

turmeric

 

With its characteristic warm yellow hue, turmeric is known for its antioxidant properties, and studies have shown that it can play a part in protecting against heart disease. It’s a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. This mighty spice is the main ingredient in curry powder and is commonly used in Indian cuisine and curries.

It can also be used as a healthy and warming alternative to coffee. Try a spicy turmeric latte, using a pinch of turmeric mixed into warm almond milk and sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s very much a hug in a mug!

7. Chilli Powder

chilli-powder

 

Spice things up with a pinch of chilli and make your recipes as hot as you dare! This fiery spice is made from dried chillies starting with the mild pimento pepper, through to the lava-hot Carolina Reaper.

Chillies are measured using the Scoville Scale, with milder versions reaching 100 heat units and the most pungent hitting a whopping 3,000,000 heat units. Phew!

8. Ground Cinnamon

cinnamon

 

Cinnamon is a popular spice made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree and is usually sold in powdered form or rolled into small sticks.

It’s mainly used in desserts and goes especially well with apple crumble or baked apples – or when stirred into a vegan rice pudding. It also features heavily in spiced drinks, such as mulled wine or hot cider. Or in savoury dishes including chickpea tagine, or sprinkled over roasted butternut squash for a delicious side dish. Add a sprinkle to your hot chocolate on a cold day and you’ll be in heaven.

9. Basil

basil

 

With a beautiful green hue and a fresh aroma, basil is most commonly associated with Italian cookery – although the herb is also used in many Thai and Vietnamese dishes too. Basil is part of the mint family and has a peppery, slightly minty taste.

It can be used in salads by simply tearing up the leaves to release the flavour, or with tomato-based dishes to minimise some of the acidity of tomatoes. A quirky way to use fresh basil is to infuse the stalks and leaves in olive oil to make a light, aromatic salad dressing. Of course, popping some on top of your homemade pizza when it comes out of the oven will make you stand out from the hosting crowd!

Stock Your Cupboards The Greener Way

If we’ve inspired you to reinvent your spice rack with our pick of the essential herbs and spices for the kitchen, then you can stock up at our Wearth Shop.

All our spices are delivered in sustainable hemp bags, which can be returned to us after use so we can reuse them as part of our circular, zero-waste policy.

If you’ve created a delicious dish using our herbs and spices, we’d love to see it – tag us on Instagram and show us how you’ve spiced up your life!