Basil

Basil is a very fragrant plant with bitter taste. Its scent is similar to the scent of carnation or nutmeg. We use fresh or dried leaves of basil. Recently basil has become very popular in Latvia.

Basil contains 1,5% of essential oils, 6% of tannin, glycosides, and saponines. The essential oils of basil are known to have a bactericide effect. In folk-medicine basil is used to cure meteorism, inflammation of urinal bladder or to rinse wounds. It can be added to herbal bathes.

This spice has a very wide range of use. It can be added to vegetable dishes, fresh salads, pastas, soups, sauces, pizzas, egg dishes, and to cucumber and marrow marinades. Fresh leaves are used as garnish or vinegar flavouring. Basil is extensively used in Italian cuisine.

Basil is a basic spice in the cuisines of Southern Europe, India and the United States.

Koriandrs

Coriander is one of the oldest spices.

Its fresh leaves contain lots of vitamins. Coriander contains 0,4-0,6% of essential oils, pectins, tannins and vitamin C.

In cooking we use both leaves and seeds and add them to salads, rice, sweet drink made from dried fruits, fish dishes, confectionary, bread, marzipan, beans, peas, cabbage, beets and carrots.

Mint

Mint is a spice which contains up to 2,5% of essential oils (such as menthol, pinene and menthofurane), tannin, flavonoides, etc.

The plant is used as disinfectant. In folk-medicine mint tea is used to cure heart failure, cough, to disinfect oral cavity, to reduce stress and as a diaphoretic remedy.

In cooking we use either fresh or dried new leaves of wild or cultured mint plants. Mint is used in cocktails, kvas, teas; it can be added to salads, vegetable, meat, fish dishes and desserts. If added to black pudding and sauces, the dish develops a very special flavour.

Mint can be used as garnish.

Mint tea has been very popular in Latvia since olden times.

Thyme

Thyme is an annual medicative herb and a spice.

Thyme contains 2% of essential oils, ferments, tannins, saponines, etc. The main component of the essential oil is thymol (20-40%).

Thyme is known for its bactericide disinfectant qualities. In folk-medicine, it is extensively used to cure pertussis and bronchitis as it liquefies mucus. It is used in such remedies as pertussin, Hartman’s solution, etc.

Thyme has pleasant, but strong scent and strong, a bit bitter taste. In the pharmaceutical industry it is used to make syrups, essences and herbal teas. Its essential oils are added to mouthwashes, toothpastes, and soaps.

Because of its strong taste, in cooking thyme should be used carefully and in small quantities. It can be used with fat meat, potato dishes and soups. Thyme is often used when we smoke products, besides; it can be added to mushrooms, game, fish, bean and pea soups and potato salad.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a spice with needle-shaped leaves. Rosemary leaves and blooming branches are used to make essential oil called rosemary oil. Rosemary has strong camphor like aroma and slightly bitter taste which resembles the taste of pine needles. Rosemary’s essential oils stimulate an appetite. Fresh and dried rosemary can be added to salads, fish and poultry dishes.

Because of its intense aroma, rosemary can be used in small quantities- approximately 1 teaspoon of rosemary per 1 kg of food; besides it must be added to food at the end of cooking. This spice enriches fish, vegetable, game dishes, fast food and dough.

Rosemary is used together with parsley but never with bay-leaves. Dried rosemary leaves are good additives to teas and lemonades.