Using Herbs & Spices


Herbs and spices are crucial to helping food exude their natural tastes. But a lot depends on the “what” and “how much” for food’s best response.

Whole spices and some herbs release their flavors slowly, so add them at the start of your cooking cycle. This will ensure the tastes “marry” well before a dish is cooked.

Ground herbs and spices, on the other hand, release their flavors more readily. Add near the end of cooking time to reduce the risk of cooking off their flavor before the dish is removed from the heat.  

For fruit dishes, dressings, or other no-cook foods, add spices and herbs in ahead of time so flavors can build and blend well. For salad dressings, add seasonings to the vinegar for a short time before adding oil to any dressing mix.

While there are no hard and fast rules about how much of a spice or herb to add to a dish, there are general rules that can be applied.

For meats: Start with 1/4 teaspoon per pound of meat; or for each pint (2 cups) of sauce or soup, or for a serving for four. Adjust as necessary. (For stronger spices, like cayenne ginger, and garlic powder, start with 1/8 teaspoon.)

The potency of chili peppers can intensify during cooking, so add cayenne, red peppers and more in small increments and taste test frequently.