These toothsome (but not overly tacky) pinwheels are sure to win over even the most avowed licorice haters. The only 100 percent organic licorice available in the U.S., Zagarese is made from ITALIAN LICORICE ROOT. The original flavor tastes of subtle, sweet anise -- none of that in-your-face mustiness.

$15.60 for 40 wheels, store.organic-licorice.com

Black lime, a traditional Middle Eastern spice, is made by boiling the ripe fruit in salt water, then sun-drying it. The darker the lime, the more pungent the taste. Throw in a whole lime or two, piercing the skin first, to flavor a pot of legumes or a savory stew. For a bolder, more citrusy kick, use the pulp instead.

Oman Black limes (whole), $4.95 (1.5 oz), nirmalaskitchen.com

The aptly-named and easy-to-identify black trumpet mushroom, also known as a black chanterelle, usually appears from June to September. Because of the popularity of this seasonal spore, however, dried specimens are readily available year-round. Just soak in warm water until soft. Or for a bit more flavor use stock, wine, or cream.

$16 (4 oz), gmushrooms.com

This nutrient-dense whole-grain rice, known as nobleman's rice in Italy, where it’s grown, smells of baked bread and tastes wonderfully sweet. Though its husk is actually dark red (shh!), the cooked rice could easily stand in for inky black pasta; it's also great as a base for grilled halibut or striped bass.

Gli Aironi Venere Nero Rice, $14.95 (500 g [roughly 17 oz] bag), formaggiokitchen.com

No, this isn’t caviar. It’s organic, raw black sesame tahini, a nourishing, calcium-rich spread said to alleviate everything from blurred vision to, ahem, constipation. Perfect for darkening hummus or adding depth to sweet breads and cakes, it's also great on crackers or bagels (just schmear and serve). Be sure to add olive oil if you like it; this contains none.

$11.99 (8 oz), livingtreecommunity.com

There’s nothing vanilla about Frontier Natural Products Co-op’s extracts, sourced from far-flung vanilla-producing regions. Each Fair Trade–certified, organic variety has its own flavor profile, ranging from floral (Papua New Guinea) to smoothly sweet (Uganda) to smoky (Indonesia), adding a touch of the exotic to desserts, sauces, or even drinks.

$6.49 (2 oz), frontiercoop.com

Story by Jessica Tzerman. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008