Archive for the ‘Spices & herbs’ Category

Steenbergs Becomes Kosher Certified

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

We’ve been working during the last few years on upping our game in our certifications.  It’s alright saying that Steenbergs is good at this and that, but quite another thing to prove it.

In 2016, we began working on both halal and kosher certification.  So far, we have completed kosher certification with the London Beth Din (Kosher London Beth Din) – finalised on 16 December and confirmed 3 January 2017.

After an audit visit and lot of paper trails to be proved, this has enabled over 250 products to achieve kosher certification.  At the start, we won’t have any logo showing that our products are kosher certified, but as new labels are printed we will be incorporating the KLBD logo for certified lines.  This will begin with a rebranding of the organic extracts range in the first half of 2017.

Now, we’ve started on halal certification with Halal Certification Europe.  Because of a different methodology , it means that only those products we blend can be certified and so it will be a much, much shorter list.

At Steenbergs, the key theme is that we must be able to demonstrate that we both appreciate and are addressing customer’s differing requirements for Steenbergs herb, spice and tea products.  This is not only about environmental (Organic) and social (Fairtrade; SEDEX), but also about religious and other ethical factors.

We will address vegan and/or vegetarian in the near future, but have slightly put that to the back of the queue because Steenbergs’ products are plant-based and we seek (so far as possible) to ensure no animal products are used in fertilisers.

Cook For Syria with Baharat spice blend

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

This November sees a fantastic initiative #cookforsyria, set up by influential instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy and Suitcase Magazine in support of Unicef UK’s Children of Syria fund. A month long celebration of Syrian cooking, there will be events, supper clubs and sharing of recipes, in order to raise money through the power of food.

“We hope that through the #CookForSYRIA campaign we will not only be able to raise significant and much needed money for Unicef UK’s Children of Syria Fund, we will also increase awareness of the plight of children in the war-torn country. Through cooking, sharing recipes and the power of social media, we invite everyone to help make a difference and positive contribution towards this important initiative.” Clerkenwell Boy

For more information on the initiative please visit In the meantime, we’d like to share a recipe and information on one of our Middle Eastern spice blends, Baharat, which is popular in Syrian cuisine.


baharat-organic-arabic-spice-blend-48gSteenbergs Organic Baharat Spice Mix is based on a traditional general spice mix used throughout the Near East or Levant, especially the Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Palestine.  In fact baharat means spices in Arabic.  In the Levant, Steenbergs Organic Baharat is used on almost everything from lamb and mutton to fish.  Steenbergs Organic Baharat version is a Tunisian style recipe.

Steenbergs Organic Baharat contains (amongst other ingredients) organic paprika , organic black pepper , organic cumin and organic cloves and organic cardamom powder.  Try it rubbed onto chicken drumsticks for an Arabian inspired alternative to standard roasted chicken drumsticks or try the tasty recipe below.

Pan-fried Beetroot Pasta with Baharat, Orange & Walnuts

Beetroots that have been pan-fried in orange zest take on a whole new taste sensation, especially when combined with Baharat spice blend.

INGREDIENTSbaharat pasta


  1. Toast the walnuts in the oven on 200’c for 5-10 minutes till light brown, but watch as they will burn if left unattended.
  2. Wash and slice the celery sticks and put into pan with beetroot (below)
  3. Cut the beetroot into 1/4’s and put into a deep frying pan with the butter, Baharat and orange zest
  4. Cook on high till the sugars in the beetroot start to caramelise and bring out the flavours
  5. Set aside and make the pasta
  6. Put pasta into a pan of water with the veg bouillon and bring to the boil.
  7. Cook the pasta till al dente (still with a slight chew when you bite into a piece), which should take about ten minutes, but follow packet instructions.
  8. Drain and add the nutmeg and spinach to wilt down.
  9. Put into hot bowls
  10. Divide the beetroot mixture between the bowls of pasta
  11. Top with the walnuts
  12. Serve with warm crusty bread

Penja White Pepper Is Back

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Steenbergs Penja pepper comes from a family farm in the Penja region of the Cameroon.  Bought in 1970 from a retiring French pineapple farmer, Salamon and then his son René have converted this 70 hectare plantation over the pepper growing during the 1980s when the pineapple market became saturated.  The plantation now only grows black and white pepper.

This Penja white pepper is truly special – clean and light peppery taste, with sharp heat that builds and lingers.  Perfection.



Spicy cookery with Sharmini at York Food & Drink Festival

Monday, September 26th, 2016

On Saturday 24th September, we savoured our first experience of York’s excellent Food & Drink Festival. Now in its 20th year, it hosts numerous tastings, workshops & events alongside a market full of delicious street food stalls and artisan producers.

sharmini thomasThis year Steenbergs linked up with Sharmini Thomas, a well known local Indian cookery school tutor who runs her own workshops. Sharmini comes originally from Kerala in Southern India so when we asked her to do a chicken korma recipe for us, she same back with this delicious alternative which uses coconut, rather than the better know Northern Indian version of Korma which uses cream. For the full recipe, please visit our recipe page: Sharmini’s Chicken Kuruma.Sharmini Chicken Kuruma

Sharmini showed the enthusiastic audience how to create delicious curries using a full range of spices, including turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, cloves, cassia & bay. She also demonstrated how, when pushed for time or ingredients, using a handmade blend such as Steenbergs organic Korma Masala can be equally delicious. To round it all off everyone enjoyed Sharmini’s Bombay Potatoes which were flavoured with curry leaves, cumin & mustard seeds, with fresh chilli, ginger & garlic. A delicious dish and a great accompaniment to any Indian meal.

Congratulations also to Anne Everett Grant and Stephanie Fellows who won a Steenbergs spice bag and Sharmini recipe book respectively.

The Food & Drink Festival runs through until Sunday 2nd October with plenty more inspiration still to come. For full details of the programme, visit their

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Enter our Competition to Win a Month’s Supply of Abel & Cole Veg Boxes

Monday, July 11th, 2016
Click here to view this promotion.

Steenbergs: progress at 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Progress on Steenbergs’ new factory is moving along decently since April.  The joists have been put in for the second floor and most of the flooring.

The building work has created a mass of extra space that can be used to store our tea.  Building control have agreed the structural calculations, standards for fire rating and the shape and positioning of the staircase to the second floor.

We should get delivery this week of a new labelling machine from Norpak in Bradford to help with the growth in demand for our organic spices and seasonings – especially the mini jars that are going well in Abel & Cole’s recipe boxes and for gifts sets.  A new packing machine is also being built for us at Gainsborough Engineering in Lincolnshire which should help underpin interest in Steenbergs loose leaf teas and herbal teas.

A couple of photos are below:

Enter our competition to win Esther Veerman’s new cookbook From Field & Moor + Steenbergs Spices

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
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Delicious Family Favourites from Nadiya Hussain

Friday, May 27th, 2016

9780718184513_Nadiya'sKitchen_COV.inddHave you ever looked for alternative recipes for black sesame seeds, star anise or mustard powder? Have you wanted to add a little twist to your family meals? Then look no further than the new cookbook from 2015 Great British Bake Off Winner Nadiya Hussain.

spiced parsnip cake 2

Parsnip & Orange Spiced Cake

Nadiya’s Kitchen (Penguin, HB, £20) is a collection of over 100 of her favourite family recipes and includes delicious twists on classics such as Mustard Kale Mac & Cheese and Parsnip & Orange Spiced Cake – a twist on the traditional carrot cake but with added sweetness and flavour from the parsnips.

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Peanut, Black Sesame & Ginger Brittle

Another ingenious idea is Peanut, Black Sesame & Ginger Brittle, with the black seeds giving extra theatre and the ginger adding a lovely warm kick. We’re really keen to try out the the Chocolate Fondants with Star Anise too. The star anise is ground in a pestle & mortar and then passed through a fine sieve, creating a delicious fondant that is: “crusty on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside with the distinctive, lingering aroma of anise.”

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Cod & Clementine

Here at Steenbergs we are always trying to find new ways to add a bit of extra spice to our dishes and Nadiya definitely uses them with style and experience. Her unusual but delicious dish of Cod & Clementine, one of her Mum’s regular recipes, includes a great combination of spices to liven up the fish, and the clementine peel adds a fresh, zesty finish.

The book is filled with chapters ranging from ‘Lazy Sunday Mornings’ to ‘Midnight Feasts’ and ‘Snacks and Sharing’ to ‘Dessert for Dinner’. Sweet treats vie for attention with aromatic savoury snacks and we mustn’t forget the famous birthday cake that Nadiya created for Her Majesty The Queen; a delight of orange, fondant and roses.

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Her Majesty’s Cake

For more information on Nadiya, please visit her website:

To buy any of the herbs and spices mentioned in the recipes, just visit or click on the images below. Happy cooking!

star anise yellow mustard powder black-sesame-seed-60g





Click here to view this promotion.



Iranian Fairtrade Saffron

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

We’ve just been informed that our gorgeous Fairtrade saffron has been removed from Amazon’s listings.

Iranian saffron is in breach of US sanctions against Iran, so cannot be sold in the UK.  Despite the nuclear deal signed in 2015, US companies still cannot trade with Iran on many products, so Amazon gets caught under that.  They’ve, also, removed an Iranian spice blend – sabzi ghormeh – that we make here in Yorkshire for sanction busting.  It’s a pity because both are good products.  I am sure that soon the position will be improved.

Needless to say, you can still buy it direct from Steenbergs and support the rural poor in Torbat, Iran.  In March, we posted some good photos of saffron picking in Iran.

From a UK perspective, the official UK Government’s position is that “There is a positive outlook for UK-Iran trade relations and the UK Government fully supports expanding our trade relationship with Iran.”

How Steenbergs Tests For Allergens And Other Nasties

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Steenbergs’ story is one of hunting for the best quality, cleanest cooking flavours you can find, from all round the world bought in the most respectful way possible”.

For us, this means organically farmed, fairly traded and from suppliers that have been certified by food safety and quality schemes (ideally, BRC or ISO 22000), and food that respects your desire for junk-free ingredients – no allergens, no chemicals, no harm to nature, no “heads or tails”, no messing with employees, no disrespect of suppliers and no lies.

That’s all a given.  We test for microbial contaminants and chemicals from microbial chemicals or other contamination – mycotoxins, ochratoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,  chlorates and perchlorates.  Today, for example, I have been testing a sample of packed products for water activity levels to check these are in the expected range.

But most enquiries that we get are about allergens.  That’s a more complicated answer.

Firstly, we process and store allergens separately from standard ingredients, using clean and dedicated equipment for allergens.

Secondly, we buy from suppliers who say that they follow allergen segregation procedures, and are BRC or ISO 22000 (as above).

Thirdly, we have internal and external testing programmes that check for: the presence of allergens on our equipment or in the building; and the presence of allergens in our packed products.  We use test kits for gluten (GlutenTox Pro) and for mustard, peanuts, sesame, treenuts and (less regularly) milk and soy (Neogen).  External testing of packed products and (also) of our equipment for allergen proteins or DNA is done by Eurofins and Neogen Laboratories.

Unfortunately because of the way of our products are grown, it is simply not possible to be absolutely certain that allergens don’t get into the supply chain somewhere, somehow – whether  growing alongside our spices and herbs or processed in the same factories at origin.  So we don’t pretend that they could never be there, but we do our best to make sure our products are as clean as possible for you.

We also get asked about potential other contaminants – agrochemicals, colours and radiation.

Almost all our ingredients are organic and so there’s a legal chain of custody that proves our spices to be organic.  For both organic and non-organic products, we then get pesticide residue tests of the raw materials to check they meet EU requirements.  Then, we have a testing programme for packed products covering: heavy metals (arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury), illegal colours, pesticides and radiation.

We accept it’s not fool-proof but we’re getting there.

Overall, we take the integrity of our ingredients very seriously indeed and are constantly fussing about how to prove to ourselves that our products are as pure as pure can be, and that no one in our supply chain is duping us.

Notes (for those who want more detail):

Here’s a detailed overview of our testing programme:

Allergen, chemical and physical contaminant testing procedures

Test Provider Rationale
Internal tests Done on randomly selected packed products regularly throughout year
Gluten GlutenTox Pro Breadcrumbs: cross-contamination because of poor segregation and clean-down procedures
Internal tests Monthly programme of environmental swabs to test for contaminants in production and changing areas
Allergens 3M Clean-Trace (Allergen) Swabs Cleaning: checks efficiency of clean down for down to 3µg of protein on surfaces
Gluten GlutenTox Pro gliadin swabs Breadcrumbs: cross-contamination because of poor segregation and clean-down procedures
Milk Neogen lateral flow test kits Not onsite: cross-contamination from outside
Mustard Neogen lateral flow test kits Mustard: cross-contamination because of poor segregation and clean-down procedures
Peanut Neogen lateral flow test kits Not onsite: cross-contamination from outside
Sesame Neogen lateral flow test kits Sesame, zaatar: cross-contamination because of poor segregation and clean-down procedures
Soy Neogen lateral flow test kits Not onsite: cross-contamination from outside
Treenuts (Almond, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut) Neogen lateral flow test kits Not onsite: cross-contamination from outside
External tests Done on randomly selected packed products throughout year
Allergens (Elisa) Intertek Stoke; Neogen Foodsafe, labelling, authenticity (incl. vegetarian)
Allergens (DNA) Eurofins Foodsafe, labelling, authenticity
Chlorates; perchlorates Eurofins Foodsafe, authenticity (organic)
Colours (Illegal dyes) Eurofins; Northern Hygiene (Staffordshire Scientific Services) Authenticity (organic), foodsafe
Ethylene oxide Northern Hygiene (Staffordshire Scientific Services) Foodsafe, authenticity (organic)
Heavy metals Northern Hygiene (Staffordshire Scientific Services) Foodsafe
Fish and meat Eurofins (DNA); Neogen Authenticity (halal, kosher, vegetarian)
Mycotoxins Northern Hygiene (Staffordshire Scientific Services) Foodsafe
PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) Eurofins Foodsafe
Pesticides Eurofins; Northern Hygiene (Staffordshire Scientific Services) Authenticity (organic), foodsafe
Radiation Eurofins Authenticity (organic)