Canadians love spices, and they import and use spices from all over the world, such as cinnamon, allspice, cumin, nutmeg, cloves and pepper.
But what are the most popular spices in the country? Which are the favorites that locals just can’t live without?
Here they are, in no particular order:
Any list of popular spices wouldn’t be complete without peppercorns. They’re tiny fruits from a flowering vine, and all the different options (black, white, green and red) can be harvested from the same plant. Peppercorns grow in Southeast Asia’s warm, tropical regions, with Vietnam at the top of the list, exporting 36% of the world’s total peppercorn production.
Another spice that needs no introduction, cinnamon is resident in spice racks throughout Canada. Indonesia and Sri Lanka produce most of the world’s cinnamon, consisting of dried inner bark from the cinnamon tea. Its delicate, sweet flavor makes it a favorite addition to many sweet and savory baked dishes, as well as curries and even lattes.
Most of the world’s ginger is produced in South and Southeast Asia. It comes from the underground stem of the ginger plant and is a staple of a wide variety of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. In Canada, it’s also often used to add a hint of spice to cookies, jams and hot drinks.
Cumin is used around the world in savoury dishes like soups and stews, and it’s known for its versatility. Canadians often use cumin in the preparation of Mexican-style dishes and traditional Indian curries. Cumin is made from the fruits of the flowering cumin plant, a member of the parsley family.
And if you’re wondering about spice blends that are popular in Canada, top contenders include:
- Chili powder, the blend can vary but it usually contains ground dried chiles, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, and onion powder.
- Curry powder, which contains turmeric, cumin, ginger, and black pepper
- Garam masala, which blends peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, mace, and cardamon pods
- Cajun spice, usually a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika
- Chinese five spice, with cloves, cinnamon, fennel, and star anise
This list only scratches the surface, and there are many more spices that Canadians love, including cloves, nutmeg, paprika, and turmeric, which makes selecting the most popular spices very difficult.