Spices are added to contribute flavor to the bulk foods, which are generally insipid, to increase their acceptability and intake. Flavor is usually used to mean a combination of taste and aroma, but a comprehensive definition is the total effect provided in the mouth when a prepared food is eaten. This includes besides aroma and taste, other perceptions such as pungency, astringency, warmth, and cold. It is essentially these sensations that produce the physiological reactions leading to humeral, hormonal secretions, which in turn give the cues to acceptance or rejection reactions.
Apart from salt (sodium chloride), spices are the most important taste and flavor enhancers. Spices are often used in association with the term condiments; both are used indiscriminately and interchangeably. However, for the chef, food technologist, and connoisseur of food, spices and condiments mean different things. Spices are fragrant, aromatic or pungent edible plant products, which contribute flavor and relish or piquancy to foods or beverages. Condiments, on the other hand, are prepared food compounds containing one or more spices or spice extractives, which when added to a food, after it has been served, enhances the flavor of the food (Farrell, 1985). So condiments are compound food additives and they are added after the food has been served. Seasoning is another term that is related to both spices and condiments. Seasonings are compound preparations containing one or more spices or spice extractives, which when added to a food, either during its manufacture or in its preparation, before it is served, enhances the natural flavor of the food and thereby increases its acceptance by the consumer (Farrell, 1985). Seasonings are added before or during the preparation of a food, whereas condiments are added after the preparation of the food or after it has been served.
Spices have various effects: they do impart flavor, pungency, and color, and they also have antioxidant, antimicrobial, nutritional, and medicinal functions. In addition to these direct effects, spices have complex or secondary effects when used in cooking, such as salt reduction and improvement of texture of certain foods.
Ginger is more or less a universal spice, although its use is more predominant in certain countries such as China. Ginger is used in cooking in various forms (Figure 15.1): immature ginger, mature fresh ginger, dry ginger, ginger oil, ginger oleoresin, dry soluble ginger, ginger paste, and ginger emulsion. Essential oil, oleoresin, and other extractives are standardized by the manufacturers to yield the same aromatic and flavorant characteristics of the specific spice. Manufacturers usually determine the ground spice equivalency of the extract before marketing. Spice equivalency of extract is defined as the number of pounds of oleoresin required to equal 100 lb of freshly ground spice in aromatic and
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Table 15.1 Spice extractive equivalencies of ginger
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