Today we will visit markets and specialty stores searching for Herbs and Spices in different places in Israel.
During the past week, we visited three places that sell herbs, spices, dried fruits, and nuts in Israel. I am not a chef or food critic. These visits were by chance, but I decided to use the opportunity and talk about herbs and spices.
Table of Contents
Where to Look for Herbs and Spices in Israel?
Before we get to the places we visited, let’s answer the question. The most basic answer is supermarkets. And though most supermarkets have spices, nuts, and dried fruits, usually, the variety is not extensive. Thus, I would suggest visiting the markets. Here are several useful links:
Beyond markets, you can visit specialty stores, and we will visit two of those in this article.
Variety of Herbs and Spices
What to expect? The short answer is almost everything. In Israel, there are Jews from all over the world. When it comes to spices, you can mainly find Middle Eastern, North African, and European.
Most Popular Herbs and Spices
This most popular list is based on my experience. And if I forgot something, leave a comment below. Also, the order of appearance has no importance.
- Spearmint, also known as regular mint, is quite popular, and many people grow it by themselves. The most common usage is adding it to tea or even hot water with mint leaves without tea. In many restaurants, they will offer to add mint leaves to your black tea (at no extra charge). Another usage of mint is as a topping for salads. Usually, it goes in mozzarella cheese salads.
- Za’atar is not a specific herb, but due to its popularity, I will mention it as well. It is a family of herbs that mainly includes oregano, some basil thyme, thyme, and savory. Sometimes they also add sumac, fennel, and salt. There are different types of Za’atar. Mostly used in salads and pastries.
- Paprika is one of my favorite spices. Especially smoked paprika with salt is one of the best mixes for chicken.
- Coriander has been used for many years. It is mentioned in ancient Jewish writings, and scientists even found the remains of coriander in the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankhamun. Coriander is added to many salads and stews.
- Dill is added to stews and salads. For example, Tzatziki.
- Rosemary is easy to grow by yourself. And it is commonly added to potatoes, meat, and fish.
- Sage is another popular plant. There are different types of sage. Usually added to pasta and sauces. Many people also drink it.
- Lemon Verbena, also known as Lemon Beebrush, is frequently used in drinks (similar to tea leaves).
- Basil is widely used in pizza, pasta, pastries, and pesto sauce.
- Ancient Greek and Romans noted that bugs do not come close to Oregano. They thought that oregano protected from evil spirits and used it for purification and protection — today, oregano is used in pizza, pasta, pastries, and omelets.
- You can find Sesame in two forms. The first one is direct usage. For example, it is added to salads and pastries on top of Bourekas. And the second usage is indirect. It is combined into Tahini, Hummus, and Halva, which are common in Israel.
- Parsley is often used to garnish different dishes.
- Thyme is an aromatic herb used for cooking seasoning foods and pastries. Although it has its aroma and bold taste, it does not obscure or hide the taste of other spices. Because of it, it is popular in the kitchen.
The first place I visited was the Levinsky Market (for a detailed guide, see Levinsky Market and Markets In Tel Aviv). Levinsky Market is not a regular market. It does not sell all products. And it focuses mainly on spices and nuts.
Israeli loves olives. Many places sell them, and in recent years farms started offering olive picking. Recently, we took part in harvesting olives at Galili olive oil.
There are usually several dozen olive kinds and about half a dozen olive oil types. Moreover, there are stands with spices, teas, and dried fruits. Here are several photos from Levinsky Market:
Different types of beans are also quite popular. They are either added to salads, stews, and other dishes. And since I mentioned beans, two favorite street food dishes in Israel are mostly made of beans. Can you guess which ones?
The first one is hummus, and the second is falafel.
Dried fruits always include raisins and dates since they are both grown locally.
Most stores offer different mixes of spices for different dishes.
In recent years, culinary tours that include tasting have become very popular in more touristic markets. I have seen them in the markets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And this is one of them:
Derech Hatavlinim, Bethlehem Of Galilee
It is a big store surrounded by fields where they grow many spices. Moreover, they offer free tours in those fields in Hebrew, where they tell you about different spices and their health benefits.
If you are in the area and want some spices, you will most probably find what you want.
Here are several photos from Derech Hatavlinim:
Besides natural spices, they offer many different mixtures. And there are suggestions on how to use these mixtures. Moreover, many workers are in place, and if you are unsure or have a question, you can consult them.
And the last series of photos was taken in a small store in Kfar Saba. There are such stores in almost every city.
What Spices to Buy in Israel?
The significant advantage of spices and herbs is that most of them do not go bad. And you can store them for long periods.
Moreover, they are usually light and not bulky, thus will not take up much luggage space. These facts make them ideal for traveling. Having said that, I rarely buy any food products when going abroad. The world today is very global, and you can buy everything online. For example, I frequently purchase at iHerb.
But, if you are not into online shopping, consider something from the most popular list above. Something that suits your taste and local produce.
If you are looking for ideas for souvenirs from Israel, check out “What Are The Best Things To Buy In Israel?” in the Useful Information For Tourists To Israel guide.
Can I Purchase Vacuum Packages of Herbs and Spices?
As you can see from all the photographs, usually everything is laid open, and you put the requested quantity into a plastic bag or box. You can also purchase prepackaged items, but they are not vacuum-sealed.
I never saw vacuum-sealed herbs and spices in Israel, but maybe you will find such a place. If so, let us know in the comments below.
What are your favorite herbs, spices, and food in Israel? What have you brought back home? Share with us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For similar posts, check out the Food category.
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.