Mar. 10th, 2011

Herb & Spice Studies- Akudjera


(Photo courtesy of AidanBrooksSpices)


By no means is any post I do under this heading meant to be complete, gospel, etc. It is merely information I have gleaned from various books I own and am sharing.


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Akudjera( Solanum Centrale, Solancae) is more commonly known as Bush Tomato. Other names include Kutjera, Kamparapa and Akutjura.

It is a hardy perennial with woody stems, bearing long 2-3 1/4" 'spikes', grey green leaves with a soft texture and violet flowers, similar to Deadly Nightshade, which makes sense as it is in the same family.

The berries ('tomatoes') are 3/4" in size, purple-green when young, turning pale yellow when fully ripe. When dried, they are 1/3-1/2" in size and darken to a chocolate brown color with a chewy, raisin like texture.

They have a distinct aroma similar to caramel mixed with sundried tomatoes and has baked background notes. The initial taste is caramel like, with a bitter aftertaste that lingers, leaving you with a refreshed feeling.

Bust Tomato is native to western and central Australia, and is widely used in what is termed 'bush foods', as well as by the Aboriginal peoples. It is one of the oldest spices known to mankind. Has a tendency to thrive after a bush fire. It is dried on the plant itself, then gathered and ground with water to form a thick paste. It is rich in vitamin C.

The natural drying process reduces the presence of alkaloids and concentrates the natural flavors of the fruit. It is best kept stored in airtight containers out of direct sun, away from heat and humidity.

Commonly used in slow cooked dishes, soups, casseroles, apple crumbles, risottos, white and red meats as a rub, grilled meats and veggies, BBQ, stir-fry and even cookies. It combines very well with salt, pepper, ground coriander, wattleseed, lemon myrtle, mustard and thyme.

Available online here- http://bushfoodshop.com/category1_1.htm
and
http://www.oxfamshop.org.au/pages/3123546 (Please note, that while I do have Ground Wattleseed from this site, I have not tried anything else, nor have I personally ordered from them. The Ground Wattleseed was a gift from a friend in Australia.}:) )



Bibliography entry here.

Feb. 24th, 2011

Herb & Spice Studies- Ajowan


(Photo courtesy of Super Stock)


Disclaimer- By no means is any post I do under this heading meant to be complete or gospel, etc. It is merely information I have gleaned from various books I own and am sharing. This information is for personal use only.

Ajowan

Also known as Carum/Carom, Bishops Weed, Ajwain, Omum or Ajwan
Latin- Trachyspermum ammi
Family- Umbelliferae

Is a close relative of Parsley, and Cilantro. Seeds are small, tear shaped, and light brown in color. Looks very similar to celery seed, but is a bit larger in size. Is also related to Caraway and Cumin. Grows 1-2ft in height, with feathery leaves and red flowers.

The taste is said to be similar to that of Thyme. Tends to contain high levels of the volatile oil Thymol which is commonly used as a germicide or antiseptic. After taste is sharp, peppery with warm notes. In the 19th Cent, Ajowan was the world source for Thymol oil which was then used in mouthwash, toothpastes, cough syrups and herbal medicines.

Ajowan is native to the Indian subcontinent, is grown in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and India generally. Almost all export of Thymol oil from Ajowan was to Germany prior to WWI.

It's harvested in midsummer, seeds separated, dried and stored in airtight containers out of direct sun, heat and moisture. The seeds are either used ground into a fine powder, or lightly bruised prior to adding to a dish.

Modern uses include savory biscuits, pastry for meat dishes, steamed cabbage, grilled or bbq'd meats, fishes, curries, pickles and chutneys. Is still used in folk medicine to control flatulence, indigestion, colic, diarrhea, and other bowel disorders, as well as asthma.

Some Indian recipes refer to Ajowan as Lovage as the leaves appear to taste very similar.

Online source for whole Ajowan seeds. I have not purchased from here yet, so cannot say how good their products are at this time.

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Bibliography entry has been updated to include several more books.

Feb. 7th, 2011

Back to Basics

Getting back to what I once was doing, years ago, and stopped for whatever reason- studying herbs & spices, their origins, uses in both culinary & medicine- folklore & modern, etc.

I have a notebook I'm writing out key things in, in long hand- I find I retain knowledge better that way. Then I'll be retyping it into a blogpost. They will be tagged 'herb/spice studies' if you want to follow along.

First up is my (by no means whatsoever complete) Bibliography, which will be added to as I add to my collection of various books. Some are 'questionable', I know, but well, they tend to contain a small amount of useful information, so they are included as well. If they are still in print, a link will be included as well.

I hope to do this at least once a week, maybe twice.

In no particular order- (Title, Author, Publisher, Copyright date, ISBN#)

The Spice and Herb Bible Ian Hemphill Robert Rose Pub. 2006 ISBN- 13-978-0-7788-0146-7

The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices Clevely, Richmond, Morris, Mackley Hermes House Pub. 1997 ISBN- 1-901289-06-0

The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices Bremness, Norman Viking Studio Books Pub. 1995 ISBN- 0-670-78029-4

Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices Simon & Schuster Pub 1990 ISBN- 0-671-73489-X

Herbs Lesley Bremness Reader's Digest pub. 1990 ISBN- 0-89577-355-4

Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal David Hoffman Barnes&Noble Books Pub. 1996 ISBN- 0-76070-155-5

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal Reader's Digest pub. 1997 ISBN- 0-89577-912-9

Herbs for the home Jekka McVicar Viking Studio Books pub. 1995 ISBN- 0-670-86352-1

The Holistic Herbal Directory Penelope Ody Chartwell Books Inc pub. 20001 ISBN- 0-7858-1351-9

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs Scott Cunningham Llewellyn Publications 1994 ISBN- 0-87542-122-9

Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs Rodale pub. 1987 ISBN- 0-87857-699-1

A Merry Christmas Herbal Adelma Grenier Simmons Quill publishing 1968 ISBN 0-688-07080-9

Herbally Yours Penny C. Royal Sound Nutrition publishing 1982 ISBN 0-9609226-1-X

Traditional Home Remedies, Old Farmer's Almanac Martha White Time Life Books publishing 1997 ISBN 0-7835-4868-0

Tussie Mussies Geraldine Adamich Laufer Workman publishing 1993 ISBN 1-56305-106-0

Language of flowers Kate Greenaway Dover publishing 1992 ISBN# 0-486-27372-5

Taylor's Pocket Guide to Herbs and edible flowers Chanticleer Press publishing 1990 ISBN# 0-395-52246-3

The Herb Tea Book Susan Clotfelter Interweave Press publishing 1998 ISBN# 1-883010-60-8



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