Spices and Industry

Emerging spice crops in Saskatchewan include coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), caraway (Carum carvi L.), dill (Anethum graveolens L.), anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.). All of these are members of the carrot family (Apiaceae), except fenugreek, which is a member of the legume family (Fabaceae). All of these spice crops are summer annuals in Saskatchewan, except caraway, which is a biennial. More than 8,000 ha each of coriander and caraway seed are harvested annually, and most of it is exported as whole seed. Dill and anise are grown on only a few hundred hectares each year, and most of the seed is exported to the United States as whole seed. Fenugreek is grown on only a few hundred hectares each year, and has been exported to the United States as whole seed or as fenugreek flour. One company in Saskatchewan constructed a processing facility in 2004 that uses a patented process to produce an odourless fenugreek powder with up to 80% fibre. The demand for sources of high fibre for use in foods and nutraceuticals is steadily increasing, and is expected to continue to increase with the concern over the high rate of obesity in North America.

Mustard seed (family Brassicaceae), brown and oriental, is the most important spice crop in Saskatchewan. Canada is the second largest producer in the world with over 200,000 tonnes per year, and the largest exporter with 160,000 tonnes per year. Saskatchewan produces 80–90% of the Canadian mustard seed, primarily in the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones. Seed yields range from 700 to 800 kg per hectare, depending upon type, yellow mustard seed being the lowest yielding. The protein content of mustard seed ranges from 25–36%, whereas the oil content ranges from 28–39% depending upon the type. Mustard seed is exported as whole seed. Most of the brown mustard seed is exported to Europe; most of the oriental mustard seed (hotter) is exported to Asia; and most of the yellow mustard seed is exported to the United States. Yellow mustard seed is low in oil: this facilitates its use in dry milling for flour and wet milling for mustard pastes, and as a binder and protein extender in processed meats. The seed coat of yellow mustard contains mucilage, which absorbs water and keeps processed meat dry.

Al Slinkard, Ray McVicar

Further Reading

Kehler, C. (ed.). 1999. Herb and Spice Production Manual. Regina: Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association.