There are countless of herbs and spices out there, all with their own flavor profiles. Some
flavors pair well with specific types of foods. Here are some tips and tricks for purchasing, cooking, storing, and using herbs and spices in your favorite dishes.
There is a difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are the leaves of various shrubs and be used fresh or dried. Spices come from bark, roots, seeds, buds, berries, or fruits of shrubs and trees. Spices are usually used once they have been dried.
- When planning to use herbs, pick or purchase them on the day you intend to use them. This way their freshness and flavor will be at its best for your dish.
- It is helpful to store herbs inside a plastic bag with a few holes cut into it and
wrapped in a damp paper towel. This allows the air to travel and keep the moisture from settling on your herbs. You could also place them in a glass of water and leave them on the kitchen counter.
- Wash all herbs before incorporating them into your recipe by running them under cool water. Gently shake off the excess water and pat with a paper towel.
A few insights:
- If the recipe calls for a “sprig”, run your fingers up and down the stem and the leaf portion of the herb will fall away. These leaves are what you will use in your dish and the stem can be discarded.
- When substituting fresh herbs for dry herbs, use up to three times the amount the recipe calls for.
- Fresh herbs are usually added within a few minutes of finishing or at the very end of the recipe.
If your recipe doesn’t specify when to add herbs or you are unsure, sprinkle or mix them in just before serving.
Popular Herb Pairings
|Pesto||Vegetable Dips||Tomatoes||Fish: tilapia, salmon, trout etc…||Fish||Poultry||Lima beans|
|Zucchini||Bean Dips||Mexican dishes||Green beans||Rice dishes||Lamb||Summer Squash|
|Sauces||Caribbean dishes||Potatoes||Soups and Stews||Poultry|
- Ground spices can be kept for 1 year. Whole spices will last a bit longer, up to 2 years.
A great way to test if a ground spice is still good is to rub a pinch onto the palm of
your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich, and immediate, it is likely still fresh enough to flavor your dish. The same can be done to test a whole spice; you may need to crush it first before you are able to smell it well.
- Store spices in tightly covered containers away from sunlight exposure. Keep spices away from any moisture and heat, particularly any that might come from a dishwasher or oven.
- If the recipe does not specify how much of a spice to use, begin with ¼ tsp. for the following portions and add more to your liking: 4 servings, 1 pound of meat, and 1 pint of soup or stew. Use less than a ¼ tsp. to begin if the spice is cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes.
Popular Spice Pairings
|Beef||Chicken||Fish||Pork||Carrots||Green Beans||Potatoes||Summer Squash||Winter Squash|