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I'm beginning to grow my own herbs and would like to put together something similar to the "Italian Seasoning" found in the grocery store spice section. (It's an easy way to add more flavor to pasta sauce.)

Is there a commonly accepted list of ingredients and proportions, or does it vary between the spice companies?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Having taken a look around some recipe sites and taken the intersection of what most of them consider the "core" spices (and leaving out the ones that showed up on too many 'variations' lists), it looks like the canonical ones are:

  • basil
  • marjoram
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • thyme
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I agree that this is the core of Italian Seasoning mix. If you're willing to put one together that's a bit more involved (but well worth your time!), check this recipe out: justrightmenus.com/recipe.php?id=73 –  JustRightMenus Jul 17 '10 at 17:57

forgive my poor English (I am Italian and live in Italy) while trying to give you my answer.

I cannot +1 Peter V because of my poor reputation, but he is right: in Italian cooking you don’t go for mix, what you look for is the balance between a few ingredients, normally one from different kind of foods: one cereal, one veg, one spice for example.

The main spice, or (or fresh herb) is parsley: it is so common that it is used in figurative language as well, think about a celebrity you see everywhere, just like parsley.

Fresh basil is a must for spaghetti sauce and freshness, as Peter V said, is the only option.

I never heard about red pepper in Italian cooking, i bought mine during a travel in Asia and use it for asian food. Black pepper is for sauces and meat, white pepper for fish, normally.

Oregano, thyme, majoran are common, and they normally dont mix. Oregano is widely used on the top of some pizzas, especially when they have got anchovies, capers and/or olives on top.

Pizza margherita requires fresh basil.

Rosemary, bay leaf and sage are used commonly with meat or beans/lentils: in this case you often prepare a bouquet tying together some small branches from these three herbs with a cooking lace and let the bouquet rest in your preparation for some time.

you should probably add fennel seeds to the most-common-italian-spices list

Hope that helps,

Sergio

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I applaud your spice growing!

But, I would recommend you not mix your spices into a homemade Italian seasoning mix, for a few reasons.

First, some of the core mix are better dry, like Oregano -- Oregano needs to dry out to attain full flavor. Others, like Basil absolutely suck dried out, and taste way, way better fresh. Most spices taste better fresh.

Second, most legit Italian food doesn't use a big mix-o-spices. Classic Italian spaghetti sauce is actually just: milled tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper, salt. And it's unbelievably good, and indisputably 'Italian' tasting.

If you're going crazy, you can throw some torn up basil leaves into the pasta. Maybe you get where I'm going with this -- usually Italians cook with fresh spices, trying to bring out the individual flavors. Having your own herb garden will get you there fast, so don't worry about making the mix. (But do grow all those spices listed here, you'll use them!)

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+1 for the minimalism of Italian cooking (even if you did leave out garlic). Visiting Italy taught me that if your dish has more than 5 ingredients, it's probably not Italian. –  Carey Gregory Apr 5 '13 at 1:28

I think generally it is basil, marjoram, oregano & sage usually in the ratio 2:2:2:1 although it can differ and sometimes contains rosemary too.

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I would throw in Bay Leaf as well, along with dried red chilies. I think the standards are Basil, Thyme, Oregano and Marjoram... Rosemary is not always considered Italian.

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Bay Leaf can be kind of crunchy when used like Italian Seasoning is used. Red Pepper is definitely Italian, but I don't usually see it in those mixes. –  Peter V Jul 20 '10 at 21:30
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Yah, I usually use the whole leaf and remove before serving. I am a hot fan, so any Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Asian foods always have chili in them ;--) –  nicorellius Jul 20 '10 at 23:22
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Italian people do use rosemary; we use it together sage for meat roasts, and many other recipes. It's more Italian than chili, which is used more from Spanish people (we don't cook "meat with chili"). –  kiamlaluno Aug 4 '10 at 22:06

There is rosemary, thyme and oregano in the Italian seasoning.

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basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary,thyme, marjoram,sage, sea salt, black pepper.

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Is this the ingredient list from a popular brand? Something from a recipe book? –  Chris Steinbach Jun 22 at 12:14

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