Smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, smashed candy pieces and sea salt – all part of a great spice rack. Yes, I keep my candies, sprinkles, and colored sugars with my spices – it all adds to the art and flavor of food creation, right?
That’s really what spices and seasonings are: paints on our food canvas. Happy little Bob Ross trees of color, heat, and flavor.
So, let’s take a look at some of the spice-y trends and the reasoning behind the seasonings’ popularity.
Ethnic & Exotic Come Home
Have you heard of dukkah? This Egyptian spice blend features a myriad of spices and nuts. And I have a feeling you’re going to start seeing more of it in the coming months. It’s smoky, salty, and very complex, and can be put on a variety of dishes. To make dukkah, blend any of the following: sesame seeds, almonds, sea salt, black pepper, fennel seeds, sugar, coriander seeds, hazelnuts, cumin seeds, pistachios, cashews, mint – really the list goes on and on.
When asked to define ethnic, most consumers spoke of seasoning blends:
Different cultures use different spices for unique flavors.
Foods that use seasonings specific to a certain country or culture.
47% of consumers try ethnic foods because they’re “looking for something different”. It’s the number one reason why consumers try ethnic foods (Mintel). I automatically think of spices like African peri peri, Japanese togarashi, and Indian garam masala as some popular spices that are now very consumer friendly. These are ancient spices that have been revived in Western culture. Proof that ancient methods and recipes are coming back – strong.
Turmeric, turmeric, turmeric. It’s been in tons of beverages and milks, cookies, sauces, and even rices. Often considered a superfood for overall wellness and gut health, this spice is leading the way for functional seasonings. Ashwaganda, matcha, ginger, ginkgo, and lavender are often linked to functional properties and can be added to various seasonings sometimes as a flavor profile enabler, sometimes not.
Functional seasonings like turmeric, mushrooms, and matcha can even bolster your clean label efforts. Talk about functional, it’s not only healthy functional but label functional! 😉
Hot and Spicy
It’s no secret that Americans love them something spicy! And the main way we get that is through peppers. Did you know that there are 200+ varieties of chili peppers? Their taste and degree of heat can change thanks to the growing region, the soil conditions, and even the weather. So we have lots to choose from. But luckily for product developers, you don’t need to know them all! A select few do the seasoning job.
Mexican peppers and flavors are enjoyed by many consumers; peppers like jalapeno, poblano, and guajillo are popular. Scotch bonnet peppers have become trending lately as the rise of Jamaican food soars. As have serrano peppers which are used in the harissa paste. And ghost peppers will always be ghost peppers, but holy moly, I don’t see why anyone would want to kill their tastebuds.
Quite frankly, my standby is always cayenne pepper. It’s perfect for anything really – adding the heat to a main entree, or adding the punch I need to my ACV morning refreshment, or even – and this is my favorite – adding it to a chocolate ice cream. MMMmmm, I LOVE spicy chocolate.
A new way to add a flavor component that’s a little outside the box, is a flavored salt. Last year, I found some Pinot Noir Salt at Sur la Table for a family member’s stocking stuffer. I also purchased some for myself because I couldn’t help it. Mark Bitterman’s wine-infused salt added a nuanced flavor to the dishes. I even once sprinkled it on a vanilla bean ice cream.
But wine-infused salts aren’t the only way to get your hands on a flavoring play. You’ve heard of Himalayan pink salt right? Well, Cyprus salts and Bali salts aren’t far behind. Just as the varietals of vanilla are popular, so too, will varietals of salt do the same.
So don’t be afraid of your spice rack! Contact Givaudan if you’re in the lab and need some suggestions or tools to help boost your flavor profile. Our expert blenders and seasoning teams are part of the Givaudan knowledge network!