Our forest-based spices exhibit rich characteristics given their natural forest ecosystems. Spices present a compelling case for forest conservation as many are either are shade-loving and thrive within the forest understory or are crawler plants and require trunk-like structures to grow around. Spices grown in biodiverse forest ecosystems offer us the benefits of superior flavor.
Korarima (also, “Ethiopian Cardamom,” “False Cardamom”)
Indigenous to Ethiopia, this rare, larger, and more fragrant variety of cardamom grows wild within forests. The highest quality pods are harvested when they glow a bright red. Though largely unknown to the world, you’ll discover Korarima at the base of all Ethiopian spice mixes for stews, soups, meats, and teas.
Timiz (also, “Long Pepper”)
This East African relative to the common household peppercorns bears pepper berries that develop into a more regal, elongated form. Timiz grows wild in Ethiopia’s southwestern forests and after it is foraged by our forest farmers, dries fireside turning green to black.
While this spice is typically recognized by its bold, yellow color, turmeric from Ethiopia’s soil sometimes has a slightly duller tone – though this should not to be mistaken for lesser quality. Ethiopian turmeric boasts rich levels of oils and flavor. A relative of the ginger root, it is heralded for its many health benefits and color dying capabilities.
Originating from the Mediterranean, white cumin seeds come from a small flowering plant that grows well in warm climates. This spice has a warm, earthy flavor and is popular for flavoring soups, stews, and other savory dishes around the world, from Asia to Latin America.
Also known as black seed, black caraway, or by a number of other names, black cumin has an entirely different look and taste to white cumin. This spice is the key spice in Himbasha, a large “celebration” bread shared during many Ethiopian holidays. It’s also used across Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines. The oil from this spice is also increasingly popular for its healing and antioxidant properties.
Ginger has historically thrived in Ethiopia’s forests, showcasing elevated levels of oil content. Ethiopia’s Agriculture Research Center has recently strengthened the varieties to enable farmers’ improved quality and yields. Ginger is loved around the world, not just for flavor, but more perhaps for its medicinal abilities to treat colds, indigestion, and other ailments.
Ethiopian farmers are increasingly growing black pepper due to their newfound discovery of how well this space grows in their forests. Popular in nearly every cuisine around the world, black pepper is a versatile spice loved for its pungent, hot, and earthy taste. It is also has many health benefits, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vitamin-rich qualities.