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Seasoning

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The substances added to other foods to enhance their flavor and smell, such as salt, pepper, herbs, spices, oils, and vinegars to name a few. Although the term "seasoning" and "flavoring" are most often considered to be the same, to some they are separate terms. However, it is generally felt that any substance that can be added to a recipe to provide the desired flavor, such as sweet, spicy, intensely hot, sour, tangy, or earthy, is added as a seasoning.

Similar to seasonings and flavorings, spices and herbs can be used interchangeably, since a spice can be a herb and vice versa. However, in addition to the common seasonings there are others that may be considered as more of a flavoring. Therefore, some food items often classified as either a seasoning or flavoring may include any of the following:

  • Herbs - fresh or dried
  • Spices - fresh or dried
  • Fruits - fresh or dried
  • Vegetables - fresh or dried
  • Beverages - juices, teas, wine, beer, milk, and others
  • Sauces and marinades

    Sauces and marinades which are often used as a seasoning or flavoring, result in another category when combinations of ingredients or flavors are classified as seasonings. Foods such as flavored vinegars, mixtures of herbs and/or spices, compound or flavored butters, and flavored oils are also considered to be part of the families of seasonings commonly used to create food dishes that provide a distinctive flavor and sometimes smell to enhance the recipes being prepared.

    A term first used by Asians attempting to identify flavors is the word "umami". Often used to describe foods that are earthy, meaty, robust, pungent, or savory, the term "umami" is also used to describe flavors enhanced by naturally occurring substances in foods such as glutamate, an amino acid that exists within bonito flakes, cheese, fish, kelp, mushrooms, red meat, soy sauce, and tomatoes. If the substance exists in its "free form" and is not bound to other substances, it enhances the flavor, thus providing umami to the foods being prepared.

    Umami is a word commonly used to describe the flavor or taste of foods that are aged or allowed to ferment. Wine and cheese are two food items that may be described with this term, when referring to a strong, robust well-rounded, full-bodied, or meaty flavors. Also, when foods are added as an ingredient, and thus a seasoning to enhance the flavors of other foods such as adding broth, stock, wine, earthy oils (truffle oil) or cheese to a food dish, the food being added may be considered as a seasoning or flavoring. This is due to the fact that it assists to increase the depth of the meat flavors or flavors of other main ingredients in the food dish, making the umami more intense.

  • USDA Nutrition Facts

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