Using seasonal ingredients is not only practical but it’s an economical way to cook, especially for those on a budget. Seasonal ingredients also include spices. Take advantage of seasonal spices and really make your winter cooking amazing!

 

When you think of winter spices you probably think of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. But there are some other wonderful spices that are great to include in your winter cooking, either for sweet or savoury dishes. So, which ones are they? Let’s discuss the ones I mentioned above, and the not so well-known winter spices:

 

 

Allspice

 

This spice is the dried berry of the Jamaican pepper tree, and can sometimes be mistaken for peppercorn. The allspice berry is best when dried before it reaches its full maturity, because this is when it has the most flavour. Allspice is used in many Caribbean and Latin dishes and it’s great in both sweet and savoury dishes. It makes great tomato and barbeque sauces as well as great desserts such as applesauce, fruit compotes, and oatmeal biscuits. It’s also a great match with cloves and cinnamon for a delicious spice cake.

 

 

Cinnamon

 

Who doesn’t love cinnamon? With its sweet, slightly ‘hot’ and woody taste, cinnamon is the perfect addition to desserts and many hot winter drinks. You could even add cinnamon to your tea with a little lemon juice and honey to possibly help during cold and flu season.

Cinnamon can be used in spice blends for curry, and is a great match with apples. My favourite is making apple stew with cinnamon; not only is it delicious, but the aroma of cinnamon in the home is divine!

 

 

Ginger

 

Ginger is such a versatile Asian spice. It’s obviously one of the main ingredients in gingerbread. Ginger is great for settling an upset stomach too – just steep fresh ginger in hot water. You can use ginger in desserts, to season roasted vegetables and meats, and for seafood and stir fries. It’s the perfect complement in soups like carrot or sweet potato soups. Fresh ginger matches perfectly with pears – I love stewing pears and slices of fresh ginger together (remove the ginger pieces before serving).

 

 

Nutmeg

 

Nutmeg has a very strong, sweet taste, while also being quite pungent. It’s great sprinkled sparingly over vegetables, especially pumpkin. You can use it to spice both red and white meats, fish, desserts, and white sauces. Just remember that a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly!

 

 

Cardamom

 

Cardamom comes from India, and has a smoky in flavour. Cardamom matches well with citrus flavours, and is great in sweet as well as savoury dishes like curries and rice. Ground cardamom can be used in soups, pates, stews, and purees. Add a few seeds of cardamom to rice pudding or custard. Cardamom can also be used to treat indigestion and it’s a natural diuretic.

 

 

Cloves

 

Cloves are dry flower buds of a tree native to Indonesia. Cloves are great in roasted meats, baked beans, split pea or bean soup, desserts like apple pie, stewed and baked fruits, and pickles. Add cloves to broccoli or cabbage to aid in the digestion of these vegetables. Use cloves to flavour soups and barbeque sauces. Cloves are also popular added to curries and other spicy dishes.

 

Cloves can have a slightly numbing effect on the mouth, so use it sparingly.

 

 

Coriander

 

Coriander comes from the cilantro plant. The seeds of coriander have a flavour similar to lemon peel. It’s perfect for tempering other spices that are too pungent or that you have over-spiced – it’s great at balancing things out.

 

Coriander works particularly well with cumin, and is great in Latin American cuisine like enchiladas or even in a pot of beans. It can also be found in many curry dishes. It’s perfect for spice rubs for chicken and fish, and it also adds a nice flavour to homemade pickles. Toasting them lightly really brings out the flavour. You could also use them untoasted in sweet dishes.

 

 

Star Anise

 

Star anise is a beautiful spice that has a strong licorice taste, and is used in many Asian dishes. Try it in fresh and pickled fruits, soups, stews, braising broths, curries, stir-fries, and with pork. It adds a sweet licorice pepper flavor to savoury dishes. As it’s quite strong, use it sparingly.

 

 

Winter is about warm and hearty foods and these spices all work really well in all kinds of winter cooking. That’s what makes them all great ingredients to add that extra flavour to your dishes. So, experiment with all of these great winter spices and really embrace each and every one of them!