McCormick Predicts Flavors of 2018

McCormick Predicts Flavors of 2018

riceballsMcCormick & Company’s Flavor Forecast® 2018 looks at the latest ingredients, cooking techniques and culinary ideas driving flavor at restaurants, on retail shelves and in home kitchens.  Their 2018 Flavor Forecast highlights the casual, adventurous and interactive nature of how people are eating across the globe.

“For 2018, look to new eating experiences that invite sharing, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch,” said McCormick Executive Chef Kevan Vetter. While spices play heavy in the trend, herbs have a strong role as well. Here are the five flavor trends the chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and flavor experts at McCormick have identified for 2018.


  • Handheld Flavor Fusion – Take to the streets for the latest fusing of global cuisines. Carts, trucks and food halls are merging high-flavor fillings with unique crepes, buns and breads for loaded street fare you eat with your hands.


  • A Bite of East Africa – East African cuisine is a treasure trove of flavor. The signature seasonings, BBQ marinades and sauces of Tanzania and Ethiopia are being explored across the globe.: Ethiopia’s most popular seasoning — berbere — contains an array of spices like paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper.


  • Japanese Izakaya Eats – Sushi isn’t the only bite-sized food Japan has to offer. Izakayas–Japanese gastropubs–serve up casual tasting plates, similar to Spanish tapas. Featuring bold glazes, seaweed seasonings and tangy dipping sauces, these dishes are an explosion of flavor.


  • cocktailDrink to Your Wellness – Wellness never tasted so good. Breakfast boosts, snacking soups and end-of-day sips feature robust flavors and uplifting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Awaken, stay energized, rebalance and above all, enjoy.


  • Globetrot with Hot Pot – Throw an Asian hot pot party and leave the cooking to your guests. Gather friends around a steamy pot of deeply flavored broth. Offer meat, seafood and veggies for dunking, then finish with various toppings for a new DIY meal. This East Asian favorite can be easily changed up to go Mexican, Caribbean and more.

image_sq4Learn more about the flavors of 2018.

Review the 2017 Flavor Forecast.

Review the 2016 Flavor Forecast.

Make Herbal Lollipops for Gift Giving

Make Herbal Lollipops for Gift Giving

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, Herb Society of America

Every Christmas I craft gifts for family and friends. In previous years I’ve made scarves, herbal sachets, infused liqueurs, jams and jellies. This year, my family and friends are getting colorful, handcrafted lollipop bouquets.  With herbal flavors

20171217_094512It started with a Liquor Lollipop book I found at Horizontal Books in Cleveland.  I was reading it in bed one night in October when the idea of bourbon lollipops got stuck in my brain.

I made them. They were good. And the Great Lollipop Project began.

Playing with sugars was sweet. I got stuck on the process. Soon, I was tweaking the basic recipe and adding herbal influences. More than 300 lollipops later I’m sharing what I learned.

20171217_094142-e1513522917422.jpgWhile Lorann brand drams are typical flavoring choices, I also found flavor emulsions at Home Goods and Joann stores.  I used lavender oil (the tiniest amount) and rosewater. Even with standard flavors I did a little twist. I grated nutmeg onto eggnog suckers. I created cordial flavor mixing chocolate, cherry and vanilla.  I needed to infuse my creativity into these lollipops.

After a bit, I had dozens of lollipops and  wanted to share them with everyone I knew. Thus, Christmas gifts. To impress recipients (and feed my ego) I wanted credit for new experiences. So, I dug back into the Liquor Lollipop book with herbs, not spirits, in mind.

My thought was to infuse the spirit with herbal goodness, then make the lollipop. The alcohol would carry the flavor. And, in most cases it worked.  I made lemon thyme, blackberry sage, herbal tea and other unique flavors.

Here’s what I learned

  • 20171217_094454Choose silicon molds. I learned that the hard way. They release the candy every time. They cost a little more, but reduce frustration.
  • Add flavoring and coloring last. They may burn or cook off if added while cooking.
  • Herbal oils are potent, use small amounts.
  • Sprinkle in ground chile pepper – chipotle-chocolate, watermelon-jalapeno – when using, at the very end.
  • Infuse vodka/bourbon/others with herbs overnight.
  • Use only true spirits. Flavored or sweetener-enhanced liqueurs are unpredictable and may burn.
  • Temperature rises quickly after 260 F. I putter around the kitchen while cooking the syrup, until 260 F. Then, the syrup needs close babysitting.
  • Color lollipops for edible appeal.
  • Be willing to fail. Improvisation sometimes fails. Trash bad results and move on.



  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup liquor, infused
  •  3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon infused liquor OR other flavoring
  • Coloring

Prepare molds with sticks.

Place sugar and first three liquids into heavy-bottom sauce pan. Boil until temperature reaches 260 F. Then, continue to boil, watching closely until 300 F. Remove from heat. Stir in flavoring and coloring.

Working quickly and carefully, pour into prepared molds. Wait at least 20 minutes until set.

Remove, wrap in small bags and secure with twist tie.

20171217_094058MORE IDEAS … For the holiday add crushed candy canes (mint) to the molds before adding mint- or chocolate-flavored candy … Instead of herbs, add chile pepper powder to molds and cover with hot candy … Use herb-fruit combinations like blackberry sage … Enhance lemon-thyme infusion with lemon flavoring … Sprinkle dried herbs or fruit into molds and cover with hot candy … Substitute rosewater for water. Add dried rose petals to molds.

RESOURCES … In addition to the garden, craft shops and herb suppliers consider




Magic Mushrooms May Power Santa Claus

Magic Mushrooms May Power Santa Claus

By Mary Nell Jackson, Guest Contributor

red mushroomWhen I was researching Winter Solstice I learned that Amanita muscaria mushrooms play a meaningful role in today’s Christmas tales. In fact, these red and white mushrooms may have had a significant influence on the depiction of Santa and his reindeer. It’s possible they directly or indirectly inspired Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.

The late ethno-mycologist James Arthur listed many connections. One of the most simple is the colorful mushrooms appearance under pine and birch trees, similar to the Christmas tree. Another is Santa’s ruddy complexion, which could be caused by eating the mushroom. Yet another is his joyous ‘ho ho ho’ as ethno-botanists describe an ecstatic laugh in people who partake of these mushrooms.

My research took me to historic Siberia where Koryak people ate these mushrooms in small doses for hallucinogenic properties. A shaman would gather and prepare the mushrooms, then transport them to a ceremony in a white sack, much like Santa’s toy bag.

To reduce toxicity a shaman would hung mushrooms from tree branches to dry. This is a lot like hanging ornaments today.

IMG_8162And, it’s interesting to note the Koryak people lived in yurts. When the front door was hidden by snow drifts, they entered through the chimney.

Legend has it that Santa’s reindeer ate mushrooms as they grazed near pine trees. Thus, their odd reindeer behavior becomes explainable.

On NPR’s Morning Edition, commentator Richard Harris shared the following story about touring Harvard University’s Herbarium. At tour’s end, Harris eyed a glass case containing Christmas decorations shaped like red mushrooms with white flecks — amanita muscaria. He asked curator and biology professor Donald Pfister “Why?”  Pfister told Harris that each December he gathers introductory botany students and tells them about Santa and the psychedelic mushrooms.

IMG_8163Unconvinced? Anthropologist and professor John Rush from Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., shares yet another tale. A few hundred years ago Arctic shamans handed out psychedelic mushrooms on the Winter Solstice. People often hung them on trees or at the fireplace to dry. Rush also points out that the traditional dress of the shamans was red suits with white spots … which factors into the Santa tale.

These are, of course, speculation. I must say it has given me pause to think about the relationship of Santa Claus and these colorful magical mushrooms.



12 Herb Books for Holiday Gifting

NeighboringwithNatureBooks make great gifts. Here’s a roundup of herb-related books we’ve reviewed in the past two-plus years. Click a headline to learn more. Then head over to to order and, thus, make a donation to HSA. Books seven through 12 were published by St. Lynn’s Press, the company offers free shipping and, if you sign up for their newsletter, a 25 percent off coupon.

  1. Foraging & Feasting – A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook
  2. New Scout Guide to Foraging Season
  3. Neighboring with Nature: Native Herbs for Purpose and Pleasure
  4. Build a Bee-Friendly Garden
  5. Six Reasons to Read The Culinary Herbal
  6. Crafting Holistic Beauty Products
  7. The Herb Lover’s Spa Book
  8. Eat Your Roses … and other flowers, too
  9. A Garden to Dye For
  10. Herbs Build Artful Windowsill Arrangements
  11. Bottle Trees Play with Light
  12. Join the Emerging Foodscape Landscape

Celebrate #GivingTuesday, Donate to Herb Society

Who do you support with donations of time and money? Health issues? Education? I choose activities that involve my children and the environment. That includes the Herb Society of America, a big protector of the environment.

One year I was so busy I found myself organizing donations by phone at 3 p.m.  New Year’s Eve. With the creation of #GivingTuesday I’m reminded to take care of charity business a bit earlier. #GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and kicks off the year-end charitable season.

Every Garden Counts, Every Plant Matters.

Your donation will widen The Herb Society of America’s educational reach on the usefulness of native plants and the power we have in our own gardens to help the environment. By embracing the native plant movement in our own yards we can together make a large impact on providing safe pathways for migratory birds, nesting material for overwintering bees, and more. The future of butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators lies in the home garden.

Learn more about donating to HSA.

9 Gift Giving Ideas for the Herb Enthusiast

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

il_340x270.39884561Gift-giving for the herb enthusiast is just too easy.  Looking for a table gift of stocking stuffer, consider the sprout colored pencils , herbal tea, herbwear and more from HSA’s Thyme and Again Gift Shoppe.  Or maybe give a gift that keeps giving … membership in The Herb Society of America. Need garden supplies, check out HSA’s  business members.

Or revisit some of our blog posts for suggestions.

  1. Herb Toys and Stocking Stuffers
  2. Jewelry of Interest: Lavender Beads
  3. Herb Jewelry Makes a Statement I
  4. Herb Jewelry Makes a Statement II
  5. Kitchen Greenhouse Provides Year-Round Herbs
  6. Tabletop Greenhouse Offers Fresh Herbs
  7. Field Apothecary Offers Herbal Wellness CSA
  8. Sweet Anthem Fragrances to go Herbal
  9. UrbanHerbal Offers Custom Cologne


If you have a gift idea, feel free to share it the blogmaster at


5 Handmade Herb Gifts, Get Started Now

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

20170831_070024If you start now, you still have time for handmade holiday herbal gifts. And, go …

Herb Society of American members will find more ideas in HSA Webinars.20170511_191210 (2)

Learn more about joining HSA and enjoying membership benefits like Webinars.