Archive for the ‘Steenbergs’ Category

Cinnamon – Can Science Show Differences In Taste Between Cassia And Cinnamon

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

In 2015, we did a study of the coumarin level in cinnamon, cassia and tonka beans.  Following on from that, I decided to get the “active” volatile oils analysed in a few types of cinnamon.  In the past, we have done more general tests and found cinnamon with 40 – 100mg/kg of volatile oils, including: styrene, pinene, benzaldehyde, o-cymene, linalool, linalylanthranilate, capaene, caryaphyllene and g-caryaphyllene.

I was interested in whether you could see a discernible pattern in the spectrum of flavour chemicals that corresponded back to the aromas and tastes that I experienced in the different types of cinnamon when I tested them for quality.

In short, the answer was yes there is a real difference.

Not only are the levels of coumarin much higher in cassia and Indian cinnamon, but the cinnamon aldehyde in cassia is almost double that in true cinnamon.  This is perhaps why cassia seems to have a blunter and more aggressive cinnamon taste that is loved by bakers.

There are clear levels of eugenol in true cinnamon and lower amounts in cassia and Indian cinnamon; this imparts a clove taste to true cinnamon.  In contrast, cassia and Indian cinnamon has a more eucalypt that is refreshingly aromatic.

I also found it interesting that there was limonene in true cinnamon, because I have always felt there was a citrus aroma and taste to true cinnamon.  And true cinnamon has high levels of linalool that has a floral spiciness and the piney woodiness of cymenes.

The science seems to vindicate the description I use in the Steenbergs’ website for cinnamon:

“Cinnamon powder has a complex and fragrant citrus flavour that is full of exotic sweetness.  Cinnamon’s perfumed aroma is unique but has hints of clove, nutmeg and sandalwood.”

Results from Analysis of Volatile Oils in Different Types of Cinnamon


Product name Cassia Indian cinnamon True cinnamon True cinnamon
Botanical name Cinnamomum cassia Cinnamomum bejolghota Cinnamomum zeylanicum (C. verum) Cinnamomum zeylanicum (C. verum)
Origin Indonesia India Sri Lanka Madagascar
Units mg/kg mg/kg mg/kg mg/kg
alpha-Terpineol 94 46 56 25
Benzaldehyde 37 59 61 23
Caryophyllene 146 26 292 153
Cinnamon aldehyde 23,775 7,166 13,929 13,391
Coumarin 191 295 <5 Trace
Eucalyptol 39 89 <5 <5
Eugenol 96 <5 330 188
Limonene Trace Trace 5 <5
Linalool 14 Trace 115 35
para-Cymen Trace Trace 33 7

An Easter Treat: Dark Chocolate ganache cake with happy hippy flower salt

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017
Easter Chocolate Cake

Easter Chocolate Cake

It’s the classic combination that’s a true winner every time: Dark chocolate and sea salt. Happy hippy flower salt is wonderfully versatile in both savoury and sweet dishes. The flavour is delicate and soft on the palette yet robust and course enough for it to be sprinkled liberally on top of the cake. This vegan chocolate ganache cake has a wonderfully gorgeous crunch to it thanks to the happy hippy flower salt, making it absolutely stunning for showcasing your cake.

This dark chocolate ganache cake is perfect for special occasions as it can be used as a base for many different events or when you just fancy a cake for yourself. It’s used here for Easter and is so chocolatey but enhanced further by the happy hippy flower salt. Here’s how you can create this gluten free and light yet tasty vegan dark chocolate ganache cake which everyone can enjoy:

All you need is:

(Use organic/natural real food ingredients where possible)
Serves: 6-8

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

From your kitchen:

A whisk
A fork
A large mixing bowl
A couple of teaspoons and tablespoons
A round baking tin
A silicone spatula
A small glass bowl
A wooden spoon
A butter knife
A sheet of greaseproof paper

For the cake:

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of agave syrup
3 tablespoons of coconut sugar
Up to 150ml of almond milk
50g of self-raising flour
200g of almond flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
60g of non-dairy dark chocolate chips (80% minimum)
2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder or 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of Steenbergs organic Fairtrade vanilla extract

Happy Hippy Flower Salt

Happy Hippy Flower Salt

For the ganache frosting:

200g of non- dairy dark 80% chocolate
2 tablespoons of boiling water
2 tablespoons of agave syrup
1 level tablespoon of happy hippy flower salt

Step 1:

Preheat your oven to 180° C or gas mark 4 and line your round baking tray with greaseproof paper. Set aside whilst you prepare your cake.

Step 2:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your coconut oil and olive oil. Add in your coconut sugar and agave syrup and mix well.

Step 3:

Next, using a wooden spoon, fold in your cacao/cocoa powder, almond flour, self-raising flour and baking powder and alternate with your almond milk so your cake batter isn’t too thick to handle.

Step 4:

Finally, add in your dark chocolate chips, your Himalayan salt and fold in gently. Pour your batter into your cake tin and bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn over onto a wire rack to cool whilst you prepare your frosting.

Step 5:

In small glass bowl break up your dark chocolate into little pieces and add your boiling water. Whisk in gently using your hand whisk or fork. Add in more hot water if needed and if it’s too watery, break in some more dark chocolate. Whisk in your agave syrup which will help to thicken up your frosting. Allow to cool thoroughly before using your frosting knife or butter knife to frost your cake. Sprinkle your happy hippy flower salt over your cooled cake and it’s ready for your Easter table. This cake can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

Article written and researched by

Niki Behjousiar

Recipe Creator and founder of nikibakes

Twitter: @Niki_Beh 

nikibakes has been blogging for over 10 years and has a passion for gluten free and dairy free recipes. She’s a Persian chef who loves all things spice and particularly enjoys Asian and South American cuisine. She’s always on the lookout for fresh and delicious flavour combinations and uses our spices daily in her cooking and on her blog.


A slice of North Africa: Harissa with rose spice blend

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Continuing with our series spotlighting one of the Steenbergs key products.

Harissa is the staple spice for North African cuisine and adds a good kick of spice and warmth to your meals. Harissa is most commonly used for soups, stews and even a spice rub for meat and fish. Like the Steenbergs blend, rose petals are also a common addition and add a flamboyant touch to your dishes. A little does go a long way so if you prefer a slightly milder flavour you can control it easily by adding a little less but still getting that warming and savoury flavour which is characteristic for this lovely blend. It’s a hot blend of organic crushed chillies coming together with organic caraway, organic coriander and organic cumin, a true slice of North Africa wafting into your kitchen.

Steenbergs Organic Harissa with Rose Spice Blend, created and blended in North Yorkshire.

Steenbergs Organic Harissa with Rose Spice Blend, created and blended in North Yorkshire.

Harissa with Rose Spiced Sweet Potato Fritters

These fritters are delicately flavoured with the Steenbergs Organic harissa with rose and are quite easy to make. They are perfect for picnics or a light brunch served with a couple of poached eggs and a light garden salad.

All you need is:


(Makes up to 15 fritters)

(Use organic/natural real food ingredients where possible)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated

1 teaspoon of happy hippy flower salt

½ teaspoon of organic smoked paprika

½ teaspoon of organic harissa with rose

2 spring onions or 1 red onion, chopped finely

1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

2 free range eggs

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil for frying


From your kitchen:


A wooden spoon

A sharp knife

A shallow frying pan

A grater

A silicone spatula

A couple of tablespoons for measuring

A mixing bowl

A tablespoon for measuring our your fritters


Recipe for Harissa with Rose spiced fritters.

Recipe for Harissa with Rose spiced fritters.


Step 1:

In your mixing bowl add in the grated sweet potatoes, spring onions (or red onions if using) and mix well with your all purpose flour, use a wooden spoon for this so it’s evenly dispersed.

Step 2:

Crack in your eggs one by one and using your spatula mix well until the mixture comes together. At this stage add in your lovely harissa with rose, smoked paprika and seasoning and whisk again until it’s all well dispersed into your mixture.

Step 3:

Heat your frying pan over a medium high heat and melt your coconut oil. Fry your fritters using your tablespoon for measuring them out evenly. Fry on each side for a couple of minutes or until the edges start to go golden brown.

These gorgeous fritters are wondering with some sliced avocado as well with extra harissa with rose sprinkled on top, a double whammy of flavour!

Recipe created and researched by:

Niki Behjousiar

Recipe Creator and founder of nikibakes

Twitter: @Niki_Beh

nikibakes has been blogging for over 10 years and has a passion for gluten free and dairy free recipes. She’s a Persian chef who loves all things spice and particularly enjoys Asian and South American cuisine. She’s always on the lookout for fresh and delicious flavour combinations and uses our spices daily in her cooking and on her blog.


Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Axel and Sophie Steenberg are pleased to announce that Steenbergs Limited (Steenbergs), the organic and Fairtrade spice experts, has acquired the business of Old Hamlet Wine & Spice (Old Hamlet), the mulled wine specialists.

Old Hamlet Wine and Spice product range includes Fairtrade mulling wine and cider sachets in their distinctive cloth bags, made in the UK.

Old Hamlet Wine and Spice product range includes Fairtrade mulling wine and cider sachets in their distinctive cloth bags, made in the UK.

Old Hamlet was established in 1975 Bury St Edmunds and has been owned by Tim and Rachel Bell since 1991. Under their enthusiastic management, Old Hamlet has become a leader in making hand-crafted mulling wine mixes in cotton bags.

Not only does Old Hamlet fit neatly with Steenbergs existing spice and mulling spices products, but Old Hamlet’s ethical principles dovetail with those of Steenbergs, with both businesses committed to fair trading.

Further, both Tim and Rachel Bell have committed to provide Steenbergs with consultancy to ensure a smooth handover for customers, suppliers and to help with production quality.

Axel Steenberg commented: “We have long admired the work of Tim and Rachel at Old Hamlet and their strong ethical principles, so we were delighted when the opportunity to buy the business came along. We will look to build on their fabulous products and, perhaps, bring in a few new ones as well.”

Tim Bell said: “We are very pleased that Axel and Sophie Steenberg will be taking over the running of Old Hamlet and are looking forward to working with them to ensure a trouble-free transition for our customers.”

Win a box of Steenbergs Fairtrade goodies to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight 2017!

Friday, February 17th, 2017
Click here to view this promotion.


Congratulation to John Lock for winning this prize, which has been sent to him. Many thanks to all who entered.

31 Steenbergs Products Become Halal Certified

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Following a detailed certification and audit process that’s taken several months, we’re pleased that Steenbergs now has 31 products certified as conforming to Halal requirements in accordance with Islamic law.  We’ve been certified by Halal Certification Europe, who are approved by JAKIM (Malaysia) and MUIS (Singapore) as well as other Halal authorities.

The products that conform to Halal are all mixes prepared at Steenbergs and include: Baharat, Garam Masala, Madras Curry Powder, Chana Masala, Harissa, Lebanese 7 Spice and Tagine Spice Mix, as well as Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey Tea.  For a full list, please contact

Individual spices and herbs are not certified as Halal, because they are not processed at Steenbergs’ factories, but at the ingredients’ source.  Over time, we hope to be able to get some of the original suppliers certified as Halal, but that’ll take time.

Steenbergs Extracts and Flower Waters now registered with Vegan Society

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

We’ve successfully registered Steenbergs’ extracts and flower waters with The Vegan Society. This is the start of a process that will see Steenbergs include vegan branding into our bakery range over the next few months.

As part of this, we’ve delisted anything that is not vegan within the range of Steenbergs-branded products. So, for example, all the baking decorations have been delisted, because some included shellac and others carmines, while milky oolong has been removed because it contained milk flavour.

We feel this tidies up what Steenbergs does, so that we can now say Steenbergs’ products are animal-free, vegetarian and vegan. Not all are registered (in fact most aren’t) but we’ll work on it over the next few years.

We’ve still got to review non-Steenbergs products and what we’re doing with them…but that’s for another month.

Update 26/1/2017: Following a review of branded products on, we are delisting the Fish4Ever range of fish and seafood, and the Pukka ghee.  This will mean that by mid-year (when these have sold through) Steenbergs will be a strictly vegan brand across all its activities.

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.

2016 – A Truly Weird Year

Friday, December 30th, 2016

2016 has been a strange year, with political events intruding on our best efforts at Steenbergs.  These external factors will impact the business for many years to come, and will make everything trickier and riskier.  However, they will not deflect us from our values – good spices, herbs and teas from good suppliers, where good reflects both quality and ethics.  That’s something to cling to when the economics become ever more unpredictable.

We’ve stuck with our quality, social and environmental values, and are getting these increasingly checked by external auditors.  Once again, we’ve been audited by Organic Food Federation (organic), SALSA (food quality), The Fairtrade Foundation (social), and have kept Steenbergs’ details on SEDEX (social) current, if unaudited.  During 2016, we had our first kosher audit with Kosher London Beth Din and are ongoing with our first halal audit with Halal Certification Europe, slated for January 2017.  Also, for 2017, we’re looking at vegan accreditation.

As for our additional premises, we’ve got to where we intended even if several months later than planned.  The phone system is finally in at 11 Hallikeld Close and the IT systems and offices moved over, with our spice factory at 6 Hallikeld Close connected by phone and to our servers via a VPN.  The tea packing facility and machinery is now installed at 11 Hallikeld Close, with a mezzanine floor for tea storage, and will, be fully functional in January 2017.  Shifting the tea and then the small orders picking and packing from 6 Hallikeld Close will free up space for labelling and finishing of Steenbergs spices and flavourings lines.

So operationally, we’ve got to where we intended despite the twists and turns in the road.

But, in 2016, you simply cannot get away from the politics.  The list of issues is long and includes:

  • Brexit has affected our raw materials’ and packaging costs unilaterally by about 15%, with the weakened pound. We’ll live it by increasing prices – our own Marmite moment that all businesses must face.
  • Some of our staff are from within the EU, and we’ve been working with them to get their residencies in order in while the politicians argue over what Brexit means in practice.
  • The Living Wage and Autoenrolment have directly affected staffing costs definitely for the better in the short term. Everyone is now paid the same rate – from director to new recruit – so we’re our own small socialist republic.
  • The problems in the Middle East has made trading with the Lebanon harder, and for Persian saffron impossible.  Whereas politically possible and there is a Fairtrade-certified chain of custody from saffron co-operative through to the EU, British banks refuse to permit any transactions, because of prohibitive US sanctions.  This is not only embarrassing in that Fairtrade cannot deliver on its commitments, but also prevents poor farmers from earning a living wage or making a return on their investments in becoming Fairtrade-certified and food-safe.

But I worry that wages will become a political football that will, over the medium term, prevent flexibility in wage rates and so affect the competitive ability of businesses.  Over time this could result in increased automation and more jobs to shift from the north of England to the south-east…because if it’s no cheaper to work outside the south-east it will suck more people away from the north to the south-east – just like HS2 will, also, probably do.

Higher wage rates are usually initially good for local economies, but the consequent inability to compete in national and international markets over the longer is a long term threat [note: no-one will actually think about this until years later].  This inflexibility in EU labour markets in contrast to the USA is one of the many reasons why the EU does not work, Southern European states are economically broken and provides the pull that brings economic migrants into the UK that was one of the factors in the Brexit result.

But we’ll stick to our course and stick to our values whatever the world throws at us.

Steenbergs Phone Lines – Update

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Finally, we’re almost at the end of the saga of Steenbergs’ phone lines.  After complaining to BT’s Chief Executive, because none of our other complaints succeeded in getting any traction, we have been slowly moving towards achieving what we originally ordered in May this year.

Yesterday, the ISDN lines were completed (2 lines, 4 channels), the switch and phones completed and the Internet phone set-up (Avaya switch and phones); we’ve had 80GB optical fibre installed direct to both units for really fast broadband.  We are not actually moving the phone numbers over until 16 December, so the new system is on a dummy number for the moment.

But after 7 months, we may finally get a functional phone and broadband system – it’s been a long gestation period with lots of turbulence along the way, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.  Not a bad level of technology for rural North Yorkshire.