Coriander and basil are said to be water-soluble. However, I'm not quite sure what this means. If you put the leaves into water the leaves do not dissolve. They are still there at the end.

I know certain nutrients can be water soluble — e.g., vitamin C — but what is meant by a spice?

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    Coriander and basil are herbs, not spices. Coriander seed is a spice. – GdD Apr 27 '18 at 9:31
  • Probably regional - some would say "Cilantro" if they mean the herb. – rackandboneman Apr 27 '18 at 14:02

"Water soluble" vs. "fat soluble" refer to the flavor of the spice, rather than the physical leaves, seeds, or grains. That is, if you put a bunch of basil leaves (especially dried ones) in a glass of warm water, and leave it for a few minutes, the water will continue to taste like basil even after you've strained out the leaves. With fat soluble spices like whole cumin seeds, you generally need to "bloom" them in hot fat (like butter or vegetable oil) for their flavors to spread. As a rule, all spices are fat-soluble but some are water-soluble as well.

Of course, in reality almost all spices are both water and fat soluble to some degree. It's just that some spices spread their flavor much better in fat that in water.

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  • Table salt is fat soluble? – paparazzo Apr 27 '18 at 8:30
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    Salt, sugar, extracts, artificial flavourings - stuff that can be ACTUALLY water or fat soluble in its entirety - likely is not in the scope of "spices" :) – rackandboneman Apr 27 '18 at 10:45
  • Salt is a weird one, because it's considered a spice (sometimes) but isn't a piece of a plant. I think it's unique in this. – FuzzyChef Apr 27 '18 at 20:05
  • yah, @rackandboneman, this use of the word "soluble" is kind of abuse. But it's also common in cooking literature. – FuzzyChef Apr 27 '18 at 20:06
  • And btw, salt is not fat soluble at all - however, adding salt to hot oil can be a brutally effective way to draw flavor from aromatics :) – rackandboneman Apr 27 '18 at 21:11

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