Cooking with Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can add flavor and variety to our food. Use a little at first, add more when you are sure you like the flavor. Herbs and spices lose their flavors if kept in the cupboard for too long. Here are some lips on storing and using herbs and spices:
If you use herbs and spices slowly, buy small containers and store them in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor quicker.
As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their best flavors for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 lo 5 years. Proper storage should result in longer freshness limes.
When possible, grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle just prior to using. Toasting whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat before grinding will bring out even more flavor. Be careful of the heat and not to over burn the spices.
II is not advisable to store herbs and spices in the refrigerator as ii is humid in there. To keep larger quantities of spices fresh, store them in the freezer in lightly sealed containers.
Do not use dried herbs in the same quantity as fresh. To substitute dry herbs for fresh, use 1 /3 teaspoon powder or 1/2 leaspoon crushedfor 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped herbs.
Do not season your food with too much herbs and spices. Our objective is to compliment the dish without overpowering the origin al flavor of the food.
For long-cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavors.
Black pepper, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper are excellent “after cooking” seasonings. Allow guests to season dishes with these spices at the table.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice have a special affinity for sweet dishes.
Chives are generally good for potato dishes, soups and dips.
Rosemary and thyme are perfect matches to meal, fish, stews and vegetables.
Bay leaf is great for stocks, stews, tomato dishes, fish and meat dishes.
Mustard is commonly used in sauces for meat and fish, in marinades, salad dressings, chutneys, pickles and relishes.