Spice Advice

This section is provided for Colleen and others of the seasonally challenged.

Italian spices (herbs): use for tomato sauces. Omit oregano and use for stews and chicken. Omit basil, too, and use for pork and beef.

Oregano: overpowering. Use 1 T. for 4 servings of tomato sauce; otherwise 1/2 t. is plenty for 4 servings. A pinch goes well in a one-serving omelette.

Basil: strong. An oxymoron: too much basil. Use up to 1 T. for 4 servings of tomato sauce or 4 servings of pesto sauce; otherwise 1/4-1/2 t. is plenty for 4 servings.

Bay leaves: one or two for 4 servings of tomato sauce, otherwise one. Remove before serving.

Marjoram, sage, thyme: 1/2 t. each in tomato sauce for 4. Sage in particular is good on pork and in stuffings.

Rosemary: crush before using unless cooking for an hour or more. Particularly good on chicken. Use a 1/2 t. for 4 servings in combination with other spices, up to 1 T. alone.

Parsley: buy fresh and freeze, chopped or whole, to use in place of that dried stuff that is alleged to be parsley.

Sweet spices:

Cloves: quite strong. Whole, use two or three in a cup of mulled cider. Ground, use as nutmeg.

Cinnamon: a generous dash in a cup of hot chocolate or mulled cider, up to a T. in fruit pies and coffee cakes, a medium-sized dash on a pork chop or a piece of chicken, especially when cooking with fruit, too.

Allspice: use in cakes and cookies in amounts somewhere between cinnamon and nutmeg.

Nutmeg: quite strong. Use a small dash in hot chocolate, a large dash to a 1/2 t. in fruit pies and coffee cakes, a very small dash on meat, a small to medium-sized dash in white sauces.

Coriander, ground: use as allspice in cookies? Particularly good on chicken: use up to a t. for 4 servings, or even 2 t. if there is plenty of sauce.

Sharp spices:

Ginger: quite strong. Dry, use in Chinese food (1/2 t. for 4 servings if you're shy, 1 to 1 1/2 t. for plenty of zing, more for zapitude) and, sparingly, in spice cookies. Fresh, mince finely and use half as much as dried.

Dry mustard: use along with ginger, 1/2 t. for 4 servings.

Inedible spices:

Dill: okay if used in tiny amounts, especially if fresh. Use on fish or chicken.

Cumin: this is the major ingredient of most curries.


Black pepper: a dash if you're shy, a 1/2 t. for 4 servings for zing, 1 t. or more for zap.

Paprika: mild. Use 1/2 to 2 t. for 4 servings of chicken, somewhat less for pork or beef, up to 1 T. for stews. Put a large dash in an omelette for one. Most often used for color.

Red, hot, and jalapeño peppers: inedible.


Poppy seeds: use 1 to 2 T. on a pot of buttered noodles, somewhat less in tuna salad. Try on or in breads and seedcakes.

Caraway: tastes a little like licorice in large amounts so use sparingly. Put in breads and tuna salad.

Sesame: Seeds: toast before using if you can spare the time (ha, ha). Put a T. or more in Chinese food. Oil: very flavorful. Use 1/2 t. to 1 T. in Chinese food. Be careful -- they sell both plain and hot sesame oil, and also plain oils merely flavored with sesame oil.

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Last modified Aug 6, 1998, Sue Felshin