Herbs vs Spices
Herbs vs Spices

In cooking, the terms “herbs” and “spices” are commonly used interchangeably.

But, is there a difference? If so, what makes an herb an herb, and a spice a spice?

Special Note: Salt is not an herb or a spice, it is a mineral.

Part of Plant Examples
  • Leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried)
  • They are mostly from the leaves of plants and used for providing flavour in cooking
  • thyme
  • lavender
  • cilantro (Note: seeds from this plant can be used as spices and are called coriander)
  • mint
  • parsley
  • basil
  • A product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits
  • They can be used to add colour, and flavour to food
  • fruits and seed (coriander, fennel, mustard)
  • bark (cinnamon, mace)
  • dried buds (clove)
  • stigma (saffron)
  • roots and rhizomes (ginger)
  • and resin (asafoetida)

Blends and Rubs

Many herb and spice blends originate in certain parts of the world:

  • herbs de provence (basil, fennel, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme) is commonly used in Southern France
  • Moroccan Blend (cumin, ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice and cloves)
  • Garam Masala (peppercorn, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds) is used in India
  • Jerk Spice (mainly uses allspice and scotch bonnet peppers, but can include other spices) is commonly used in Jamaica
  • Barbecue Rub (pepper, salt, oregano, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne) is used worldwide


  • Dried herbs and spices should be kept in a cool and dry location. Exposure to heat, light or high humidity destroys their flavour
  • Dried herbs and spices can last up to six months. After that they loose flavour quite quickly
  • Fresh herbs should be kept in a glass with a small amount of water.  They can also be wrapped in a damp towel or paper towel and stored in the refrigerator
  • Exception! Basil hates the cold. Store fresh basil at room temperature in a glass with water in the base
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