When Do I Add Herbs and Spices?
Ground herbs and spices release their flavors more readily than whole. If you are looking for a blended flavor add the herbs and spices in the beginning. For a distinct flavor, add flavor to the end of cooking time.
Whole spices, such as bay leaves, release their flavor more steadily. When cooking with these spices you should add them at the start of cooking. To remove these spices easy after cooking, tying them in cheesecloth or put them in a tea ball.
For salad dressings, fruit dishes and for non-cook foods, add herbs and spices several hours before serving so flavors can blend. The liquid with the seasoning can be heated to release flavors faster. For salad dressings, add seasonings to vinegar and let stand before adding in oil.
How Much do I Add?
There are no definitive rules about how much to add to a plate. It's best to start with a recipe, the amount of how much and how little can be adjusted to personalize an individuals taste. Here's some helpful pointers when no recipe is available:
- With 1/4 teaspoon of your spices per pound of meat, for each pint (2 cups) of sauce or soup, for serving four. You may adjust as necessary to your liking. For cayenne and garlic powder, start off with 1/8 teaspoon.
- Red Chili Pepper can intensify during cooking, use small increments and taste test frequently.
Herbs vs. Spices - What's the Difference?
While the terms herb and spice are used interchangeably by cooks and in cookbooks, there are easily different between the two. It all depends on what part of the plant.
Herbs are the leafy parts of a plant, whether dried or fresh. Example: basil, bay leaves, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and thyme.
Spices are harvested from any other part of the plant and are typically dried. Popular spices come from berries (peppercorns), roots (ginger), seeds (nutmeg), flower buds (cloves) or even the stamen of flowers (saffron).
Two in One!-
Some plants supply both, herb and a spice. Cilantro is the leafy herb of the same plant that gives us the spice coriander seed. Another is dill weed (an herb) and dill seed (a spice) that come from the same plant.
When Do I Replace my Spices?
Before using your herbs and spices check its shelf life by use your senses to determine freshness.
Green, leafy herbs will often loss its green color as they age. Red spices such as paprika, red pepper and chili powder will turn brown.
Check the aroma for spices by placing a small amount in your palm and gently rub with your thumb. For whole spices, break or crush to release their full fragrance. The aroma should be rich, full and immediate. If not, it's probably lost potency.
If in Doubt, Throw it Out-
Herbs and spices are some of the least expensive ingredients in any dish. So if you are hesitant about freshness, it's worth it to replace them.
How Do I Prolong Freshness?
Buy quality products-
Our spices and herbs start with some of the highest oil levels, so they can hang on to their flavor longer.
Store herbs and spices in a cool/dry area, away from direct light, heat or humidity. Keep in airtight glass jars and close tightly after use.
Don't shake over steam-
Moisture from steam may diminish the potency of spices or herbs in a jar. To avoid moisture from getting into jar, pour a small amount into your hand away from steam, then add to dish.
A Guide to Shelf Life:
• Ground Spices: 2-3 years
• Whole Spices: 3-4 years
• Herbs: 1-3 years
• Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
• Extracts: 4 years