Herbs and spices are among the most versatile and widely used ingredients in food processing. As well as their traditional role in flavouring and colouring foods, they have increasingly been used as natural preservatives and for their potential health-promoting properties. The Handbook of Herbs and Spices Volume 2 provides an essential reference for manufacturers wishing to make the most of these important ingredients. The main body of the handbook consists of 15 chapters covering key spices and herbs. Chapters cover key issues from definition and classification to chemical structure, cultivation, uses in food processing, functional properties and quality issues.
The history of herbs and spices is as long as the history of mankind. People have used these
plants since earliest times. No other commodity has played a more pivotal role in the
development of modern civilization as spices. The lives of people and plants are more
entwined than is often realized. Some herbs have the power to change our physiological
functioning, they have revolutionized medicine, created fortunes for those who grow,
process and treat them, and in many cases have assumed social and religious significance.
Herbs have changed the course of history and in economic terms have greater importance as
ingredients in food and medicine, perfumery, cosmetics and garden plants. The knowledge
of herbs has been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years
(Brown, 1995). Wars have been fought and lands conquered for the sake of these plants.
Even today we continue to depend on herbs and spices for many of our newest medicines,
chemicals and flavours and they are used in culinary preparations, perfumery and cosmetics.
Many medicinal herbs are also food, oil and fibre plants and have always been grown for a
range of purposes (Parry, 1969; Rosengarten, 1973; Andi et al., 1997).