Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

It’s that time of the year again. The season of warm sweaters, football games, and crunchy leaves. Not just that, but a variety of wonderful treats ranging from apple pies, comforting soups and finally pumpkin spice everything.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s pumpkin spice season and trust me when I say it’s everywhere from coffee and donut shops to pumpkin spice ice cream sandwiches, pumpkin spice Frosted Mini-Wheats to even pumpkin spice Oreos. It’s the flavor of fall and it’ll be around for many seasons to come.

But what makes this flavor so special? Well to make it yourself you will need all of five ingredients and less than five minutes of your time to create this unique flavor.

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

Mix all the ingredients together and you have yourself some pumpkin spice. You might find it funny to note that there is actually no pumpkin in the spice itself. It is said that these 5 ingredients mixed together have been used in the creation of home baked goods for generations. When indulging in the flavor researchers state, that it brings back memories of home or of grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie.  The flavor brings out a sense of comfort, the holiday season, and nostalgia which has made it very popular in today’s culture.

It started with pumpkin spice candles then moved on to revolutionize the food industry with new and unique pumpkin spice creations. Each of the five ingredients adds to this flavor and creates the unique experience with each food or drink that is eaten.


The cinnamon spice dates all the way back to 2,000 B.C. where it was used by the Egyptians as a perfuming agent. As time went on cinnamon became a highly demanded product in Europe but the source of cinnamon was not documented which began the search of explorers looking for the spice. It was first found in 1518 by Portuguese traders. They discovered the spice near present-day Sri Lanka. 90% of the world’s cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka.Image result for cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used for centuries as a medicine. It is known to effectively boost the  immune system and may aid in lowering type 2 diabetes to helping sore throats. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a cinnamon tree. Farmers will shave off the outside bark of the tree and the next layer is the cinnamon layer. Farmers will shave the bark and lay it out to dry. As the bark dries, cinnamon has a natural tendency to curl; which gives cinnamon sticks its appearance. To see how cinnamon is harvested and processed check out this video.


Native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, cloves work as a preservative for medical reasons to help prevent the growth of food-borne illnesses like E.coli. Cloves’ strong, pungent, and sweet aroma aid in the taste and aroma of pumpkin spice and add an enriched flavor.Image result for cloves on the plant

Cloves have to be handpicked for harvest. After they are picked they are laid out to dry for 3 days. Click here to see how cloves are harvested and marketed.


Related imageFor thousands of years, ginger has been used to treat stomach aches and pains and nausea. Which explains my grandmother’s reasonings for eating two ginger snap cookies after every meal. I always thought it was just an excuse to eat a sweet treat but ginger really does have the property to aid in digestion. Originally from Southern Asia, it is known as a warming spice and adding a little kick to the taste buds.

The part we harvest to make ginger is the root of the plant. After we turn up the plant and take off the root, it needs to be washed and processed.


This tropical evergreen tree is native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Its benefits include those that interact with the nervous system, digestive system and blood circulation. The spice nutmeg has a distinctive pungent fragrance and slightly warm sweet taste. The nutmeg trees may reach a height of about Image result for nutmeg on the plant65 feet and bear fruit that is like the appearance of an apricot. Farmers have to climb the tree and pick the fruit. Once they have picked the fruit they can pick out the edible part of the plant.


This last spice is known for aiding in toothache pains. Allspice is the dried, unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, an evergreen tree. After drying down, the berries are small, dark, brown balls. Allspice comes from Jamaica, Guatemala, and Honduras. Check out this video that tells you everything you need to know about allspice.

With a combination of these flavors, the pumpkin spice flavor is created. All with the simple combination of five unique spices. So the next time you are out, take note of all the pumpkin spice creations. Maybe try a few to see which is your favorite or try recreating it on your own at home. Either way, it’s the season of sweater weather, football games, crunchy leaves, and pumpkin spice everything.


One thought on “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

  1. Pingback: Chemistry Tastes and Smells at Christmas | Iowa Agriculture Literacy

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