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Using Spices and Herbs
Although spices and herbs have been used since antiquity, they now have a new and significant role in the preparation of food today. They not only give our cuisine distinctive flavors but also color and variety. Some herbs and spices can replace or reduce salt and sugar in cuisine when used alone or in blends.
What are spices and herbs?
Many people interchangeably refer to any item of plant origin used mostly for seasoning food when they use the terms. Strictly speaking, spices are made from tropical plants, whereas herbs are derived from aromatic species grown in the temperate zone. Herbs are often utilized in their leaves, although spices might be derived from bark, berries, flower buds, roots, or seeds.
Do herbs and spices add any nutritive value to foods?
Herbs and spices are only used to flavor or color food; they have very little if any, nutritional benefit. In general, they are low in calories, sodium, and fat and have no cholesterol, although some of the oil-rich seeds, such as poppy and sesame, include a significant number of calories. Moreover, some seasonings, such as celery or parsley flakes, have a sufficient amount of sodium to count. But because they are used in such small amounts, these components are not a problem unless a recipe calls for an exceptionally big amount or unless the diet limitation is really rigorous.
Using Herbs and Spices
Today, the most common piece of advice is, “Use herbs and spices for taste instead of salt.” This raises the question, which spice should I use with which foods? The amount? how are they combined? Here are some places to start:
- Start with some of the simpler herbs and spices because they are less expensive. Americans prefer pepper, basil, oregano, and cinnamon in particular.
- Mix a herb with butter, margarine, or cream cheese, let it sit for at least an hour, then try it on a cracker to get a feel for the flavor.
- Despite the fact that each spice and herb has a unique flavor, some can be combined.
- Bay leaf, cardamom, curry (which is actually a combination of spices), ginger, pepper, mustard, rosemary, and sage are some examples of strong or dominant flavors.
- moderate quantity of tastes with medium intensity (1 to 2 teaspoons for 6 servings). Contains basil, celery seeds and leaves, cumin, dill, fennel, French tarragon, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, savory, thyme, and turmeric.
- Subtle flavors: parsley, chives, burnet, and chervil. May be blended with the majority of other herbs and spices and used in big amounts.
Storing Herbs and Spices
Store herbs and spices in airtight containers and in a cool, dry area away from the stove. Instead of using cardboard, store dried herbs in plastic bags, glass jars, or stainless-steel containers. Keep containers away from direct sunlight to prevent herb color fading and potency reduction.
If the spice or herb has lost its flavor, your recipes won’t taste as nice. It won’t work to just increase the amount called for in the recipe. Crush a tiny number of whole spices and give them a smell once a year to check on their freshness. Fresh and overpowering aromas are preferred. Use the same procedure to inspect dried herbs every two to three years and ground spices every six months.
Because spices and herbs are expensive, storing them in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer extends their shelf life. Refrigeration will extend the flavor and color’s shelf life and lessen the possibility of insect infestation. Certain seasonings, including paprika, chili powder, and red pepper, are insect attractants.
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