Friday, December 16, 2011

Antibiotic Spices

Many of us use certain spices for their antimicrobial activity; I know I use garlic and onions a LOT in my lacto-ferments... and I know that other spices have some degree of antimicrobial properties, but I've never had a clear picture of which ones, nor how much benefit is available. Given that many pathogens now come packaged with our industrialized foods like fresh produce, I thought the information might be helpful.

Cornell University did a survey on food-spoilage microorganisms and spices a few years back. The news release about the survey is here. (Full report: "Antimicrobial Functions of Spices: Why Some Like It Hot," Jennifer Billing and Paul W. Sherman, The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 73, No.1, March 1998.)

"Garlic, onion, allspice and oregano, for example, were found to be the best all-around bacteria killers (they kill everything), followed by thyme, cinnamon, tarragon and cumin (any of which kill up to 80 percent of bacteria). Capsicums, including chilies and other hot peppers, are in the middle of the antimicrobial pack (killing or inhibiting up to 75 percent of bacteria), while pepper of the white or black variety inhibits 25 percent of bacteria, as do ginger, anise seed, celery seed and the juices of lemons and limes."

Top 30 Spices with Antimicrobial Properties
(Listed from greatest inhibition to least inhibition of food-spoilage bacteria)

1. Garlic
2. Onion
3. Allspice
4. Oregano
5. Thyme
6. Cinnamon
7. Tarragon
8. Cumin
9. Cloves
10. Lemon grass
11. Bay leaf
12. Capsicums
13. Rosemary
14. Marjoram
15. Mustard
16. Caraway
17. Mint
18. Sage
19. Fennel
20. Coriander
21. Dill
22. Nutmeg
23. Basil
24. Parsley
25. Cardamom
26. Pepper (white/black)
27. Ginger
28. Anise seed
29. Celery seed
30. Lemon/lime

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.