Difference Between Herbs and Spices (With Table)

Food devoid of the right flavor is just a mélange of ingredients served in a pot; it fills your stomach but fails to satiate your heart. And what is a dish that doesn’t leave a lingering taste in your mouth or implore you to salivate the moment you think about it? It is the addition of herbs and spices that turns mundane food items into a magical potion that one savors with every indulgence.

Herbs vs Spices

The difference between Herbs and Spices is that while the former is dried or fresh leaves of a certain plant used to add flavor to a dish, the latter consists of the parts of a plant apart from its leaves, such as its bark or seeds, to prepare a food item. Both of these don’t only make the cooked dish more piquant but also give the dish an inviting aroma.

Herbs, as the name indicates, comprise of leaves of a plant that are either in their fresh form or dried. Adding it to a food item adds a mild flavor to the item, and it generally pairs very well with an otherwise bland dish. The climatic conditions required to grow this is preferably in a temperate region.

On the other hand, the term Spice also speaks for itself. Should add only a small amount of spices to the food to avoid making it extra hot or prevent them from falling in your mouth with every bite as that can feel quite irksome. Therefore, sometimes it’s good to be a little stingy with the use of spices.

Comparison Table Between Herbs and Spices

Parameters of ComparisonHerbsSpices
Parts of the PlantGenerally, the leaves, whether in a fresh or dried stateIt comprises the bark and/or seeds
Climatic RequirementsThis requires it to be a temperate region to grow itThis requires that the region where it is grown is tropical
NatureIt can either be in its fresh form or dried formIt is always dried
FlavorThis only adds a mild flavor to an otherwise plain dishThis adds a very strong taste to the item in which it is used
Degree of ProcessingSince it is also supplied in its fresh form, the degree of processing is limited.This requires a lot of processing as it is always sold in a dried form.

What are Herbs?

As the name indicates, it comprises the leaves of a plant that are either in their fresh form or dried. It is pertinent to know that it only comprises the leaves of a plant and not its other parts. We are all familiar with one or the other type of herb, whether we realize it or not.

To Indians, it is no surprise that this part of the plant was always used to make medicines that possess immense medicinal value. All ayurvedic substances have a generous quotient of herbs in them.

Not just that, these are used in the preparation of food items as well. They can either be in their fresh form or their dried form. For instance, we are quite familiar with a Margherita pizza topped with basil leaves, which happens to be an herb. Also, if we wish to add that extra flavor to our Mac and Cheese, pairing it with some thyme and rosemary would be blissful!

 A temperate climate is best suited for growing it, and, therefore, it is found in abundance in Europe. Since it is also supplied in its fresh form, the degree of processing is limited. This isn’t cooked with the dish for long. Often they are just used as toppings that add a mild taste to your food.

What are Spices?

It comprises the bark and/or seeds. One should add only a small amount of spices to the food to avoid making it extra hot or prevent them from falling in your mouth with every bite, as that can feel quite irksome.

What is generally done is that the spices are boiled before they are strained, and only the liquid is poured out and consumed. Some other usages are when the spices are fried in a bit of oil so that it releases their flavor and it makes way for the other food items to be added.

However, it is always smart to use only a regulated quantity of spices as a lot of it can make your food spicy. It has a strong taste and aroma and can make any plain dish extremely yummy.

One major advantage of spices is that since its already dry, they can be stored for a long time. Once you purchase it, you can be assured that they are going to last for a good long time.

The tropical climate is best-suited for growing it. Since it is also supplied in its dried form, the degree of processing is pretty damn high.

Main Differences Between Herbs and Spices

  1. While as the name indicates, herbs comprise of leaves, spices comprise of any part of a plant apart from the part aforementioned.
  2. Herbs are best suited to be grown in regions with a relatively cooler temperature. On the other hand, Spice, as well all know, thrives in higher temperatures.
  3. As we have tasted in a lot of dishes before, herbs are key in instilling an additional flavor to the dish cooked by simply sprinkling a small amount of it on the item cooked as a topping. In contrast, the trick of using spice serves a different purpose- it makes the food piquant.
  4. Herbs are either made available in their fresh form or processed slightly. Whereas the spices are always the dried version of a plant’s part.
  5. By virtue of being made available in their fresh form, herbs are barely or significantly less processed. On the other hand, spices, by virtue of their being dry, are heavily processed. 

Conclusion

We don’t just need food to survive. It serves a far greater purpose. Some might say that good food is the way we feel alive. We don’t only enjoy it with our taste buds, but if you think about it, it engages all our senses. So, don’t you think that something as important as the food that has the potential to engage all five senses should be respected by cooking it deliciously? Herbs and spices make the job much easier- while the former is dried or fresh leaves of a certain plant used to add flavor to a dish, the latter consists of the parts of a plant apart from its leaves, such as its bark or seeds, to prepare a food item. Both of these don’t only make the cooked dish more piquant but also give the dish an inviting aroma. Not only that, even the temperature required to grow the two differ vastly.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713510000459
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/8/2757
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