Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gourmet Cooking With Allspice At The Florida Herb House

Allspice should be renamed "MoSpice" or maybe "HeavenSpice" or even "FavSpice". Of all the hundreds of wholesale herbs and spices in our huge store at www.SharpWebLabs com and the one that we sell the most of around winter and holiday season is Allspice. What is it with this spice? Everyone seems to "ahhh" and "ooooohh" when they get a good whiff of our fresh organic Allspice herb or powder. The funny thing is so many do not even know where allspice comes from or what plant it belongs to. Well here we go:

Allspice is the unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree called Pimenta Dioica. The berries are picked from the tree and sun-dried into pea-size balls with a dark, brownish-red color. Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not a blend of "all spices." It does however, have a naturally inherent sweet and spicy flavor reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot pepper. The pungent spice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine where it's used in Jamaican jerk seasoning and soups, stews and curries. Allspice is also a common ingredient in cakes, cookies and pies as well as ketchup, pickles and sausage.

Allspice is the only spice that is grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. The evergreen tree that produces the allspice berries is indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central America where it grows wild. Unfortunately the wild trees were cut down to harvest the berries and few remain today. There are plantations in Mexico and parts of Central America but the finest allspice comes from Jamaica where the climate and soil are best suited to producing the aromatic berries.

Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. Ground allspice stays fresh for up to six months. Whole berries last up to a year.

Allspice is worthy addition to your spice rack as it complements a wide variety of sweet to savory recipes. Try adding whole berries to chicken and pork marinades or simmering stews and pot roasts. Mix ground allspice with ground beef for more flavorful hamburgers and meatloaf, or simply add a pinch to your barbecue and tomato sauces. Allspice can also give a distinctive touch to desserts like applesauce, angel food cake and oatmeal cookies.

Substitution Tips: One teaspoon of ground allspice is equivalent to approximately five whole berries.• Use an equal amount of allspice as a substitute for cloves.• Substitute one teaspoon of allspice with 1/2 tsp cinnamon plus 1/2 tsp ground cloves OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves plus 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg.



Stephen C. Sharp

Starting Your Own Herb Garden - The Easy Herbs!

Happy Sunday Bloggers!

If you have had a chance to browse of huge inventory of over 500 premium and organic herbs and gourmet cooking spices at and then you must know how busy we are. For those of you wanting to try a little organic or non-organic herb growing of your own here are some helpful tip on good starter herbs by Kat Yares.

Herbs can be the easiest produce to grow organically. Like all organic gardens, an herb garden starts with good soil. Once you have achieved that, raising most herbs will be a piece of cake. Herbs can be planted outdoors in smaller spaces than a vegetable garden would take. Many herbs can also be grown in containers, which can be brought inside at the end of regular growing season for a year-round harvest.

Preparing for an herb garden is basically the same as preparing for any other type of organic garden. First, enrich the soil by adding compost or other organic nutrients. Second, choose strong seedlings or if planting by seed, thin the young plants to allow for optimum growth. Third, use mulch to control weeds. Fourth, use only organic pesticides and companion planting to deter the insect population.

Below, I’ve listed ten popular cooking herbs along with the best conditions for growing them and the best times to harvest.

Basil - This annual plant grows to a height of about two feet. It prefers full sun and rich soil. Basil should be planted where it has some protection from strong winds. Basil can be harvested when the plant has first reached full growth. Clip leaves and stems from the top three or four inches of the plant. Using this method will allow for several harvests over the growing season.

Chives - This perennial is best grown in clumps and at maturity will reach a height of approximately 18 inches. Chives thrive in full sun and heavily nurtured soil, so extra compost and mulch is necessary. Chives should be divided every year, so plan on extra space. Chives can be harvested at any time during the season, as the tender leaves are what are most often used in cooking.

Dill - Another annual that is also best grown in clumps. Reaching a height of around 3 feet, dill should be planted where they do not shade other plants. The leaves of the dill plant can be harvested during the growing season as needed, while the fruiting umbels are harvested when the fruit is fully formed but not yet brown.

Marjoram - Marjoram is a perennial that must be grown as an annual in areas where freezing is common during the winter months. Marjoram should be started from seed in peat pots or other growing medium in late winter and transplanted as early in the spring as possible to a permanent location outside. Marjoram grows to a height of between one and two feet. Harvest when the plants begin to bloom by cutting back several inches from the flower heads. Several cuttings can be made before season’s end.

Parsley - Parsley is a biennial, but the leaves of the plant can be harvested anytime during the first season once the plant has neared maturity. Parsley is slow to germinate, and the seed should be soaked overnight before planting in a partially shaded area.

Rosemary - A perennial plant that after a few years will become an ever producing shrub, with rosemary, you must take care to choose a location where it will have plenty of room to grow. Rosemary will grow in poor soil provided it is fertilized with ample lime and full sun. Harvest after the plant has reached full growth of approximately three foot tall.

Sage - Another perennial that should be started indoors in late winter and transplanted when two to three inches tall, sage is a great choice for your organic herb garden. Outdoors sage prefers full sun and sandy soil. Harvest the leaves before the plant blooms and again at the end of the growing season. Sage should be replanted every three or four years, as older plants tend to become woody.

Savory - An annual herb that prefers full sun and rich, mostly dry, soil. Savory can be harvested at any time during the season for immediate use. For drying, savory should be harvested by cutting the top six inches of the plant after is has flowered.

Thyme - A perennial that should be started indoors and transplanted when the plants reach two to three inches. Thyme does best in full sun and sandy, sweet soil and grows to around 18 inches in height. Harvest by cutting the top six inches from the plant when it is in bloom.

Oregano - Oregano is a perennial plant that grows to around 20 inches tall. Oregano is simple to grow provided it has full sun and fairly dry soil. Harvest a few leaves for immediate use once the plant has reached near maturity. For drying, harvest at the end of the season.

Most herbs can be used either fresh or dried. Chives are the exception, as they tend to lose their flavor when allowed to dry. Fulfill all your culinary needs and medicinal herb and spice needs at our huge store and! Over 1000 natural products on sale!

Kat Y.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Got Constipation? - Try Some Basil!

Hello Blogger Friends!

Today we want to talk a very powerful and common household herb called Basil. Most people have heard of and do have Basil in their spice cabinet but did you know that Basil can help with digestion and constipation? We sell more organic Basil cooking spice than most stores around and wish to share its little known secrets with you. If you want to try our fresh basil leaf then please navigate to our main stores at or

Did you know?
In India Basil seeds were used to help with diarrhea, mucous discharges, constipation, and as a general demulcent (soothes mucous membranes). The leaves were used for indigestion and skin disorders. In traditional Thai herbalism, the plant is used for coughs, skin disorders, and intestinal problems. The seed is used as a bulk-forming laxative and diuretic.

How much basil is usually taken?
A tea can be made by steeping 1 teaspoon of basil leaves in one cup of water for ten minutes. Three cups of this tea can be drunk per day. Capsules of basil can be taken in the amount of 2.5 grams per day. The volatile oil can be taken internally in the amount of 2 to 5 drops three times per day.

Are there any side effects or interactions with basil?
Although concerns have been raised about the possible cancer-causing effects of estragole, a component found in variable amounts in basil volatile oil, small amounts of basil would not seem to pose a significant threat. However, because some herbal books suggest that estragole may be potentially carcinogenic and has been thought to stimulate uterine contractions, some herbal experts feel it may be best for pregnant or breast-feeding women to avoid use of the herb, especially the volatile oil. People with serious kidney or liver damage should not use basil volatile oil internally, as they could theoretically have trouble eliminating it from their bodies. However, use of basil as a seasoning in food is unlikely to be of concern. At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with basil.

Growing Your Own Basil:
Basil is a simple plant to grow, its only major requirements being full sun and frequent water. Its attractive scent and flavor has made it the most useful herb in my summer kitchen. Although most varieties are grown for their culinary uses, several varieties have compact habits or purple foliage and are useful as ornamental plants, too. Most garden centers sell transplants of basil (typically the Italian varieties bred for culinary use) in the spring. But to get the most interesting varieties, I start mine from seed indoors, four to six weeks before I plan to transplant them into the garden. I sprinkle the seeds on the surface of a soil less medium in small flats or seed-starting pans and cover them with plastic wrap. I keep the flats warm but out of direct sun. When the first seed sprouts, I remove the plastic and place the flat either in direct light or 2 to 3 inches below grow lights. Since basil seedlings cannot tolerate over watering, I don't water them the first day after removing the plastic, and I'm careful to allow the growing medium to almost dry out between watering's.

As the plants grow, feed them with a liquid fertilizer once a week. When the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, usually two to three weeks after germination, I transplant them into 2- or 2-1/2-inch pots. Two to three weeks later, I begin hardening off the plants, which means putting them outside during the day when temperatures are warmest to get them used to outdoor temperatures and weather. Eventually I will leave them outside overnight, but only when I'm sure there won't be any frost. Try some fresh organic BASIL LEAF today on sale at our super herb store or! Have a healthy day!

Kelly Oliver

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chia Seeds - Not Just For Chia Pets!

Hi Bloggers!

Well we have some extra time on this beautiful Monday so here are some extra blogs for your reading enjoyment. When people ask us at trade shows "Where Is The Chia Pet That Goes With The Chia Seeds?". Once we here that we know we have a bit of work to do passing on the wealth of knowledge on the many healthy ways that our naturally grown chia seeds can contribute to ones nutritional intake and well-being.

Our Chia Seeds which can be purchased in bulk at or are packed in our reusable foil bags for ease of use and maximum shelf life. What is a Chia Plant you ask? Chia and Sage are both from the Mint (Lamiaceae to be specific) family".

"Chia" is the Mayan word for endurance and strength. According to chia seed lore, Apache warriors would tie a bag of chia seeds to their belts to sustain them on the warpath. Aztec warriors, it is said, were sustained by chia seeds during their conquests. Chia seeds were so important to the Aztecs that they were accepted as legal tender. And they were a staple for Indians of the southwest, who depended on them, particularly on long treks to the west coast to trade with California tribes. Chia seeds when eaten supply your body which energy rich nutrients.

Chia seeds are high in, easily digestible protein, essential fatty acids, omega fatty acids, vitamins, soluble fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Chia seeds have much in common with flax seeds, which have a deserved reputation as a super food. If you run down a comparative chart, you see a back and forth, with chia higher in some nutrients, flax higher in others. The clear advantage I see for chia seeds is that their natural antioxidants make them stable, whereas flax quickly becomes rancid.Like flax, chia seeds are highly hydrophilic, with the ability to hold about twelve times as much water as their own weight.

Chia contains the usual Vitamin C, ferulates and Vitamin E but the real secret is the Cinnamic acids that guard the omega-3 oils from oxidation. This is why chia is a stable product for years! With no gluten, virtually no sodium, nor reported allergic reactions, grown without pesticides or toxicants. Chia has a high energy to weight ratio (more than wheat, corn, rice or oats) that makes it a favorite choice of long distance runners and other athletics .

The Chia Diet? The gel-forming property of chia seed tends to slow digestion and sustain balanced blood sugar levels, which can be helpful in preventing or controlling diabetes. Whole, water-soaked chia seeds can be easily digested and absorbed. This results in rapid transport of chia nutrients to the tissues for use by the cells. Chia also facilitates the growth and regeneration of tissue during pregnancy and lactation, and aids the regeneration of muscles for conditioning athletes and bodybuilders. For the dieter, this means feeling full with no more peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels. Chia is an excellent supplier of fiber also!

The easiest way to reap the health benefits of our natural Chia Seeds is to simply mix one tablespoon of our seeds into one cup of water. Mix well until lumps are gone and drink (Enjoy!). This can be done 2-3 times per day. Also Chia Seeds can be sprinkled on just about any dish that say sesame or poppy seeds would be used on. Create you very own Chia Recipes and start enjoying the healthy nutrients that this ancient seed offers! Chant with us "Chia 4 Meah!".
Our fresh all natural Chia Seeds come direct from growers in Mexico and are ready to ship now.


Stephen C. Sharp - Organic Certified And All Natural Herbs And Spices - Over 500 Gourmet Cooking Spices And More! - Hand Poured Natural Bees Wax Candles - Bees Wax Lip Balms

Favorite Gourmet Cooking Spices - Garlic

Hello Blogger Friends!

First from all of us at and we would like to say Happy New Year to all! We are beginning this year with an in depth look at our favorite cooking spices and what they actually do for us.

One of my all time favorite spices ever is yes Garlic. While many may say YUCK or PUUUU when they smell garlic so many simply adore the taste and health benefits of garlic that they actually cook with it more often than any other spice except salt and pepper. Others actually take a separate garlic supplement every day.

Lets take a brief look at the garlic plant and how easy it is to grow:
Garlic is grown from the individual cloves. Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb - which may in turn contain up to twenty cloves. Growing garlic is therefore self-sustaining.
When planting garlic, choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp. The cloves should be planted individually, upright and about an inch (25 mm) under the surface. Plant the cloves about 4 inches (100 mm) apart. Rows should be about 18 inches (450 mm) apart. It is traditional to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year. Whether this is for symbolic or practical reasons is unclear. Garlic is a very friendly plant and grows well planted with other flowers and vegetables.

Harvesting Your Garlic Crop:
As garlic reaches maturity, the leaves will brown then die away. This is the cue that it is time to harvest your garlic crop. If you harvest too early the cloves will be very small, too late and the bulb will have split.

Proper handling of garlic after it's been picked is almost as important as looking after it whilst it's growing. It's essential that garlic is dried properly, otherwise it will rot. The bulbs are often hung up in a cool, dry place. After a week or so, take them down and brush the dirt off gently - don't wash the bulbs at this stage.

Garlic Daily Intake Suggestions:
Garlic - 500 mg in concentrated form - equivalent to 1250 mg garlic bulk or half a clove of fresh garlic. Garlic has been used by healers for over 5000 years . Numerous studies have shown that garlic decrease triglyceride level by decreasing fat absorption. It also supports healthy blood pressure. Two of garlic's major compounds - allicin and ajoene - have been found to possess powerful actions that help the body boost its immune power. A natural herb that is non toxic.

The Many Benefits Of Garlic:

Garlic And Cancer: Population studies have revealed that eating garlic regularly, along with other alliums such as onions chives and scallions, may reduce the risk of oesophageal, colon and stomach cancer. This may be due to garlic’s ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Garlic’s sulfur compounds such as allicin and ajeone have been found to stop the growth of various cancers in animal laboratory studies, including skin, stomach, colon, breast and oral cancer. Garlic also contains the powerful antioxidant mineral selenium, known for its anti-cancer properties.

Selenium is used by our bodies to produce glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant. There is preliminary evidence that it may be useful in the management of some cancers, atherosclerosis, diabetes, lung disorders, noise-induced hearing loss, male infertility and to detoxify or prevent toxic build-up in the body.

Garlic for the Heart: Garlic is renowned for its abilities to lower cholesterol and blood pressure naturally and protect against heart disease and stroke. Garlic has also been found to stimulate the production of nitric oxide in blood vessels aiding their dilation, and assist the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots. The antioxidant properties of garlic can also protect against cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the oxidation of bad cholesterol which would otherwise build up in artery walls. Further, folate in garlic is known to protect the cardiovascular system.

For the best in all garlic whether it be Organic Garlic Powder, Minced Garlic, Garlic Pepper, Garlic Capsules or any specialty cooking spices please see our in stock list of over 1000 herbs and organic spices at or

Sincerely Yours,

Carol K.

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