Herbs and spices are a blessing in the kitchen, capable of adding a delicious twist to bland meals.
A well-seasoned meal is like having a flavor party in your mouth, while a meal that lacks seasoning or is poorly done will pretty much send people wincing behind the dinner table.
So naturally, herbs and spices are at the heart of proper seasoning.
Beyond their rich flavor, they also offer several health benefits, including serving as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
Here’s how to use herbs and spices to take your cooking to the next level.
Label bottles with dates
To get the best seasoning effect, you want to use your herbs and spices when they’re at their potency best.
Although dried options do not necessarily go bad, their effect can dwindle the longer they stay on your shelf.
That’s why you need to date each bottle or jar as soon as you open it.
This way, you can tell how long each herb or spice has remained open.
In most cases, the dried options can last from 1 to 4 years, depending on the type, level of processing, and storage.
Be sure to store in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.
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Have fun and experiment with your spices
Even the world’s best chefs will tell you that some of their most trusted secret recipes resulted from experimenting with flavors, ingredients, and so on.
And you can apply the same trick with how you season your meals.
Good taste is subjective, and sometimes, the best way to find out what flavor combinations work well for you is to experiment with different spices and herbs.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Only make sure you experiment on small food samples so you don’t end up throwing too much food into the waste bin.
Know when to add herbs and spices
You can add your herbs or spices near the end of your cooking or at the beginning— this depends entirely on the dish.
For example, this garlic herb muffin potato galettes recipe requires you to add your herbs at the beginning of your cooking.
But for uncooked foods like salads, juices, fruits, etc., it is best to add your seasoning several hours ahead to give the flavors enough time to blend or “marry.”
Know how to use herbs and spices
Your goal should be to enhance or compliment your meals with spices and herbs and not obscure or disguise the taste.
Try adding small quantities at a time, being careful to taste the effect to ensure you don’t add too much.
Dried or fresh
Dried herbs have a longer shelf life, but they lose their flavor over time.
The fresh ones are usually best, as they offer a cleaner taste.
But should you need to substitute dry for fresh herbs or spices, you need to follow a 1:3 rule, which means 1 teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to 3 teaspoons of fresh herbs.
That’s because the dried options tend to have a more concentrated flavor, so you need to use less. Spices, on the other hand, are mostly used in dried form.