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Tiny Seeds Add Big Flavor To Springtime Foods


Spring is a perfect time to discover a little ingredient that adds big flavor to a variety of foods:  the seed spice.  Like the season itself, seeds are a symbol of rebirth and rejuvenation.  They offer endless possibilities for adding color, texture and flavor to numerous dishes.  While many people are accustomed to cooking with ground spices, they may not be as familiar with how to use whole seeds.  McCormick®, the flavor expert, shares the inside scoop on these tiny treasures.

Seeds come from the dried, ripe fruit of plants, usually grown in temperate climates.  Chefs have long prized seeds for their fresh flavor and aroma, which are released right at the moment the seed is ground or crushed.  When stored in a cool, dry place away from heat and moisture, seeds last about three to four years.

Here’s another seed secret:  toasting seeds before adding to a recipe intensifies their taste and provides another dimension of flavor.  Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite seeds, along with a quick guide to toasting:

Flavor/Aroma: Licorice-like, with piney undertones
Appearance: Pale brown, crescent shaped
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Beets, carrots, fish/shellfish, melon, oranges, pork
Flavor/Aroma: Nutty, slightly sweet and somewhat sharp
Appearance: Dark brown, crescent shaped; approximately ¼-inch long
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: New potatoes, pork, salmon
Flavor/Aroma: Slightly sweet, citrus-like
Appearance: Light tan to medium brown; spherical and ribbed
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Carrots, chicken, fish, ham/pork, lamb, peas, shrimp
Flavor/Aroma: Pungent, earthy, slightly bitter and warming
Appearance: Pale to medium brown; similar in appearance to caraway
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Asparagus, carrots, chicken, grains, green beans, fish, lamb, peas, pork, potatoes, spinach


Flavor/Aroma: Sweet flavor, with notes of anise and aroma similar to caraway; green and minty
Appearance: Pale brown with fine lighter colored ribs; oval
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Beets, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish/shellfish, lamb, potatoes, salmon, scallops, veal
Flavor/Aroma: Sweet and aromatic; aroma is minty with a green, anise freshness
Appearance: Yellowish-green; approximately ¼-inch long
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Eggs, fish, green beans, pork, veal
Flavor/Aroma: Sharp, pungent flavor and aroma
Appearance: Golden, round
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Beef, beets, chicken, crab, eggs, fish, green beans, lamb, pork, salmon, vinaigrettes

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet aroma and nutty flavor
Appearance: Possibly the tiniest of the seeds; round and blue-gray in color
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Baked goods, citrus, salads and salad dressings, stir-fries
Flavor/Aroma: Nutty, sweet aroma with a milk-like, buttery taste
Appearance: Flat and tear-shaped
Pairs Well With Spring Foods Like: Asparagus, chicken, fish/shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, orange

Three Steps to Toasted Seeds

1. Place a dry skillet over medium heat

2. Once pan is hot, pour in desired amount of seeds

3. Using a spatula, stir the seeds in the pan until they become fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes

About McCormick
McCormick was founded in 1889 in Baltimore, Md. Today it is the largest spice company in the world.  McCormick sources only the finest ingredients from around the globe to bring the highest quality flavors to consumers.  For more information, visit McCormick online at, or call 1-800-MEAL-TIP (1-800-632-5847).



  HERBS & SPICES   |   Paprika   |   A Hot Little Farm in New Jersey   |   Allspice Field Report   |   Amchur or Amchoor   |   Anise Field Report   |   Antioxidant Rich Spices   |   Back to the Grind   |   Basil, Egyptian Basil   |   Basil   |   Basil: Saint or Sinner?   |   Black Pepper Report: Indonesia   |   Capers   |   Cardamom   |   Cardamom Report, India   |   Chinese 5 Spice Powder: High 5   |   Cilantro   |   Cinnamon Trail   |   Cinnamon 2   |   Clove Field Report   |   Cumin Field Report  |   Fennel, Food Facts   |   Fennel, Buying & Using   |   Fennel: The Spice of Angels   |   Fenugreek   |   File (File Gumbo)   |   Galangal   |   Ginger   |   Ginger Field Report, India   |   Herbal Essentials   |   Horseradish   |   MSG 'Truthiness'   |   Mustard: Cutting the Mustard   |   Nutmeg   |   Oregano Field Report   |   Parsley: The Devil's Seeds   |   Pepper, Nothing to Sneeze At   |   Red Pepper Field Report   |   Rosemary   |   Rosemary: Remember Rosemary   |   Saffron   |   Saffron Field Report, Spain   |   Sage Field Report: Albania   |   Sage: The  Savior   |   Salt of the Earth Part 1   |   Salt of the Earth Part 2   |   Sassafras   |   Sassafras 2   |   Seed Spices   |   Sesame: Open Sesame   |   Spice Up Your Life   |   Tarragon, The Dragon Herb   |   Thyme, In the Nick of Thyme   |   Turmeric   |   Turmeric and Dill Pickles   |   Unjha Seed Field Report   |   Vanilla   |   Vanilla Field Report, Madagascar  

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