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Medieval Spices

The criteria for being listed as a spice source on this page are a bit complicated. Of the spices commonly used in medieval European cooking, there are seven that are not usually found in local US grocery stores. If a spice merchant carries at least four of these seven spices then they will be added to the list.

The seven "Must Have" spices are:

ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
cubebs (Piper cubeba)
galingale (Alpinia officinarum)
grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta)
hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
saffron (Crocus sativus)
saunders / red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus)

(see the list of spice merchants included in this directory)

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Alkanet powder -


(Alkanna tinctoria)

Also known as: Dyer's Bugloss, Orchanct, Spanish Bugloss

Available from:

Lhasa Karnak Herb Company (US)
Monterey Bay Spice Company (US)
Mountain Rose Herbs (US)

Herbie's Herbs (Canada)

Many members of this plant family contain a liver-damaging alkaloid and so internal usage is inadvisable. May be carcinogenic.

Often confused with Batschia canescens (also sold as "alkanet"), which is a new world plant. Batschia canescens is properly named Lithospermum canescens, and is also know as hoary gromwell or hoary puccoon. It has no known hazardous qualities and is a member of the same family as Alkanna tinctoria, which is probably why it is used as a substitute.

Lhasa Karnak Herb Company is selling Batschia canescens.

Stony Mountain Botanicals is selling Batschia canescens.

Mountain Rose Herbs is selling Batschia canescens.

Herbie's Herbs is selling Batschia canescens.

Monterey Bay Spice Company does not identify which plant is being sold.

Search: Find recipes that reference Alkanet in medieval cookbooks.

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