If you are visiting Zanzibar for a couple of days, then a visit to some of the spice farms in the islands is a good idea. A short visit involves going to some farms/plantations and seeing how the spices are grown, processed and packaged. Some of the spices include cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. You will enjoy watching the farm guide entertain you with impromptu fruit carvings. The tour ends with a sumptuous luncheon and also an opportunity to buy some of the spices which are a great opportunity to surprise your folks back home with exotic foreign merchandise.
Most spice tour guides are friendly and chatty, so it is easy to get a conversation going. This could be a discussion about your favourite curries, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
When you arrive at a spice farm, you’ll get introduced to the family who has invited you into their home, and you’ll be whisked straight to a tour of their farm. The land will be blanketed with various spice plants depending on the particular area. The guide will then launch into a long speech explaining the soil preparation, planting, weeding, cultivation and ultimately harvesting of the spices.
Apart from cloves, the best spice farms will also have on offer vanilla, cardamom, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, coriander, pepper chili, oregano and more. Fruits include mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, bananas, pineapple, tangerine and star fruit.
With the air pregnant with scents of cloves and cinnamon, you’ll take a tour of the farm and you’ll discover that the farms are well organized, with row upon row of trees, twigs or shrubs arranged in a very organized manner and neatly trimmed.
In contrast to herbs, Zanzibar spices are ground and dried before using. Once ground, they need to be stored quickly in an airtight jar or container, lest they lose their potency. To get the best flavour, heat them over a skillet on low heat, as you repeatedly stir until their aroma is released.
Just as you’re familiar with seasoning food with salt or pepper, add spices at different times and take advantage of their unique qualities. A little trial and error and soon your taste buds will achieve the desired results
Here are the main farms that grow spices in Zanzibar:
Spices play an important role in medicine: cloves are tropical anaesthetics, coriander is an anti-inflammatory, ginger is good for colds and cinnamon is an antiseptic. People who use spices regularly and in the required doses will rarely visit a doctor for any ailment.