What’s the Difference Between an Herb and a Spice?

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© Paul Knott/Fotolia

What’s the Difference Between an Herb and a Spice?

The useِ ofِ herbs andِ spices canِ beِ found asِ far backِ asِ prehistoric times, oftenِ asِ valuable forms ofِ currency inِ trade.
The seasonings haveِ alsoِ been usedِ forِ medicinal properties andِ as preservatives inِ food storage.
The terms herb andِ spice areِ often usedِ interchangeably, butِ they areِ in fact twoِ distinct types ofِ seasonings, madeِ fromِ differentِ sections ofِ plants andِ processed inِ differentِ ways.

Let’s useِ cinnamon andِ oregano asِ examples.
Cinnamon isِ a powdered spice thatِ canِ beِ made fromِ the bark ofِ a fewِ differentِ trees thatِ fall underِ theِ genus Cinnamomum.
Spices likeِ cinnamon areِ made fromِ the aromatic seeds, bark, flowers, andِ roots ofِ plants thatِ haveِ beenِ dried andِ crushed.

Spices tend toِ beِ stronger inِ flavor thanِ herbs, becauseِ they areِ made fromِ crushed portions ofِ plants thatِ areِ especially rich inِ essential oils.
Herbs canِ beِ found eitherِ fresh orِ dried, chopped orِ whole.