Spice up your life!

Ever wonder why people in the tropics or in other warm weather climate use so many spices? Perhaps it could be because herbs and spices make food last longer by preventing the growth of bacteria!

In order to test this hypothesis, my microbiology lab section contaminated 4 tubes of enriched glucose broth with E. coli and then added different herbs or spices to one tube. In order to compare the effectiveness of the herbs at inhibiting bacterial growth we performed pasteurization on a second tube. The other 2 tubes were control tubes.

~ In all cases pasteurization was effective at inhibiting bacterial growth.
~We found that certain herbs and spices actually did inhibit bacterial growth:
  1. Oregano
  2. Clove bud
  3. Cinnamon
  4. 'Imitation' cinnamon (extract taken from a leaf that was meant to imitate cinnamon)
However, ginger extract did not inhibit bacterial growth. E. coli proliferated within these tubes.

I was surprised by this result, and I found it very intriguing. It seems that life (non-microbial, of course) is just a little more fun with some spice! :)