Spices – they literally spice up our lives (at least the part we spend cramming delicious food into our mouths). Everybody with a bit of talent for cooking probably has a rack filled with aromatic herbs, colorful powders, perhaps roots in jars. Spices are a treasure trove of flavor that can turn a dish from nutritious to delicious – their benefits, in turn, go beyond the kitchen. Many of them have medicinal properties, too – and there are others that double as more surprising household items.
Garlic is one of the most controversial things in any kitchen: although it is a vegetable, we always use it as a spice. The list of its many wonderful properties is long and complex – so let’s focus on one of them that makes it stand out: it doubles as glue.
The juice that makes your fingers sticky when you peel or cut a clove of garlic is perfect for sticking small pieces of glass or crystal together. It also works as a paper glue. Its smell may be offputting for some – but it will do the job perfectly well.
Turmeric is a beloved spice in Asia – it gives curry its characteristic color and taste. It also doubles as a medicinal plant: the health benefits of turmeric were documented in the Ayurveda thousands of years ago. Today, in turn, it’s not its taste or benefits that concern us – it’s the color.
Boiling eggs in water laced with some turmeric powder will give them a beautiful golden color. Cracking them a bit when they’re half-boiled will also imprint a colorful pattern on the edible parts. Crushing fresh turmeric roots into a paste turns them into a ready-to-use paint – it can go directly from the mortar to the canvas. And soaking textiles in a bowl of turmeric-laced water will give them a characteristic color.
Pro tip: add a bit of baking soda to the mix to turn it red.
Many spices have strong aromas that we enjoy but insects don’t. For example, cloves and black peppercorns, two ingredients that turn mulled wine into the spicy drink we all love, will banish all moths from your closet.
Mix a teaspoon each of dry cloves and black peppercorns, put them into a sachet, and place it among your clothes. The aromas of these two spices will not only add an exotic note to your garments but they will also keep those fiber-hungry moths away from them.
Cinnamon is another hot and tasty spice that can be used both in sweet and savory dishes. It also has some very useful properties outside the kitchen – and one of them is keeping fungi away from your house plants.
The recipe is simple: soak a teaspoon of cinnamon powder in a few cups of water overnight, then strain the liquid, and spray it on the roots, stems, and leaves of your saplings or grown plants.
Minty fresh sinks
Finally, let’s take a look at the mint, a wonderful herb that can be used everywhere from teas to salads and beyond. Mint’s signature aroma is known to be strong and brutal on other smells – and you can use this to your advantage.
Mix baking soda, dish detergent, and a few drops of mint essential oil into a paste. Use the mixture to scrub your sinks, bathtubs, and counters clean. Rinse them and let them dry – the mint will give everything a clean, minty fresh aroma.