The Science of Spice

“To Cook or Not to Cook – that is the question my dear” – this was not my wife announcing that the kitchen was closed, nudging us towards” Hunger Saviour Swiggy”, but our spice supply vendor in Karnataka . This guy is a US educated 3rd generation aggregator & wholesaler of spices – he also has a 3.5 ton per hour spice grinding mill that supplies to a number of food brands in the country.

You see, spice has a fair bit of science behind it that is invisible to the naked eye – we already discussed how spice ageing resembles radioactive decay (read it here) and hence the importance of consuming it freshly ground. Today we talk about a different technical aspect – that of cooking OF spice while it is processed and ground– and why it is important to STOP cooking it before you get to cook with it.

Let’s come back to the point – what Mr Vendor was saying was that the process of grinding of spice generates so much heat that it, in a way, cooks the spice itself – that “cooking” leads to loss of essential spice oils that give it its core flavour and aroma. The more inefficient the grinding process – the more it heats up the spice and the worse is the final product that you get.

If you see modern-day spice grinding apparatus, it typically employs sequential 3 stage grinding to minimize heat production – even this produces enough heat to perpetually power a village. The industry has been experimenting with cryogenic grinding – pumping liquid nitrogen into the spice, cooling it below minus 196 degrees Celsius and then flash grinding it - but that adds a fair amount of cost to the entire process.

So, while the winning answer to the original question is “Not to Cook”, we still have to answer the shorter but not-so-simple question – How? That is the puzzle that took us nearly 2 years to solve while researching the FreshGround offering. What we finally came up with (and we have now applied a Patent for it) was a way to process and grind spice such that it retains its essential spice oil which helps brings out its true flavour in YOUR cooking and NOT when it is getting cooked in the Grinding Mill. That is what we try to convey through our tagline – FreshGround : Better Spices through INNOVATION | TRADITION | TECHNOLOGY.

I will leave you to mull over that. We recently also started ecommerce sales on our own website ( so if you are in an experimenting mood yourself then do try ordering to smell & taste the difference

Happy Cooking