Water-Soluble Spices

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There are many different types of water-soluble spices, but spices classified as vanilloids are spices that include vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and bay leaves. Hydrogen compounds activate some water-soluble spices; others are diluted once exposed to these compounds. Each spice has a particular element or molecule that's responsible for its potency. These water-soluble spices range in flavor from sweet to spicy and provide a variety of health benefits.

Pure Vanilla Extract

  • Vanilla is often used in combination with sugar to give bakery goods a dash of sweet and spicy flavor. When cooking with it, it releases a wonderfully aromatic scent that's slightly woodsy. According to General Chemistry Online, the active compounds in vanilla extract don't become active until added to water, when a strong hydrogen bond forms. This causes the vanilla to become water-soluble. Vanilla is the derivative of vanillin, which is the component that gives vanilla its rich flavor. Vanillin, often used to coat oak barrels of aged wines, provides the wine with a sweet and spicy undertone.

Ginger Root

  • Ginger root is a very potent, sweet and spicy spice that has a strong smell and taste. A very little goes a long way. It's often found in Chinese cuisine and has a very distinct taste. WHFoods reports that the main active ingredient in ginger is components called gingerols. People with diseases of the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, notice a reduction in the amount of inflammation and pain associated with these diseases when they consume ginger regularly. This is because gingerols have been shown to help prevent inflammation within the body.

Cinnamon

  • The University of Maryland says cinnamon is the most used spice in the world. It provides food with a bit of spiciness and a slightly bitter flavor. General Chemistry Online says cinnamon's active compounds are capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. Though cinnamon only contains a small amount of these active ingredients, very little is needed to provide food with a very intense, robust flavor. Capsaicin is less water-soluble than vanillin but is more soluble in oils and alcohols.

Bay Leaves

  • Bay leaves, often added to soups, give soups an earthy flavor and aroma. The active ingredient in bay leaves is eugenol, according to The Royal Society of Chemistry. Eugenol has a short hydrocarbon chain. The short length of the hydrocarbon chain affects bay leaves' potency in water. Though it's slightly soluble in water, it's more potent in fats and oils. Because of the length of the tail of eugenol, it has a much stronger aroma than vanillin. This is why it only takes one bay leaf to add enough flavor to an entire pot of soup.

References

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