Spices and Condiments

 
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food.
 
Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish.Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling.A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable. A spice may be available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or pre-ground dried. Generally, spices are dried. A whole dried spice has the longest shelf life,so it can be purchased and stored in larger amounts, making it cheaper
on a per-serving basis. Some spices are not always available either fresh or whole, for example turmeric, and often must be purchased in ground form. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are often used both whole and in powder form. The flavor of a spice is derived in part from compounds (volatile oils) that oxidize or evaporate when exposed to air. Grinding a spice greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation. Thus, flavor is maximized by storing a spice whole and grinding when needed. The shelf life of a whole dry spice is roughly two years; of a ground spice roughly six months. The “flavor life” of a ground spice can be much shorter.
Ground spices are better stored away from light. To grind a whole spice, the classic tool is mortar and pestle. Less labor-intensive tools are more common now: a microplane or fine grater can be used to grind small amounts; a coffee grinder is useful for larger amounts. A frequently used spice such as black pepper may merit storage in its own hand grinder or mill. Some flavor elements in spices are soluble in water; many are soluble in oil or fat. As a general rule, the flavors from a spice take time to infuse into the food so spices are added early in preparation.

 

Nutrition:

Because they tend to have strong flavors and are used in small quantities, spices tend to add few calories to food, even though many spices, especially those made from seeds, contain high portions of fat, protein, and carbohydrate by weight. When used in larger quantity, spices can also contribute a substantial amount of minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, and many others, to the diet.

Most herbs and spices have substantial antioxidant activity, owing primarily to phenolic compounds, especially flavonoids, which influence nutrition through many pathways, including affecting the absorption of other nutrients. One study found cumin and fresh ginger to be highest in antioxidant activity.These antioxidants can also act as natural preservatives, preventing or slowing the spoilage of food, leading to a higher nutritional content in stored food.

The spice testing services and condiments checks on pesticide contamination, true nutritional content and heavy metals present in spices. These are stringently tested in compliance to maximum residue levels (MRLs). The Spice and Condiment Testing includes testings of masala, garlic, ginger paste, coriander power, curry leaves, cardamom, clove, cummin seed, spices.

 
Testing Parameters considered for Spices and Condiments

  • Moisture
  • Non volatile Ether extract
  • Cadmium
  • Coal tar dyes
  • Total ash
  • Extraneous matter
  • Acid insoluble ash
  • Scoville Index
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Crude fiber
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