Years ago, I received a nice spice rack and 25 jars of herbs and spices for a wedding gift. I remember sitting there thinking to myself, how am I going to use these? Back then, I was not an educated cook!
Don’t get me wrong, I was appreciative of this great wedding gift. However, I lacked the knowledge that I needed to know about using them.
As a new cook, I thought herbs and spices were the same thing and quickly discovered that they are different. According to Wikipedia, spices are made from a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, leaf, or vegetable substance and used to add flavor to a food dish or used as a preservative. An herb is made from leafy green plants and used for flavoring purposes.
Here are some great tips that I have learnt over the years.
Using a Mortar and Pestle: Dried herbs, aromatic seeds, garlic cloves and nuts will release more of their flavor when crushed with a mortar and pestle. The mortar is a deep bowl in which ingredients are placed. The tool used for crushing is the pestle. For a uniform grind, crush a small amount at a time. It is important to make sure your mortar bowl is completely clean and dry before using it.
Substitutions: To substitute fresh herbs for dried, use three times more of the fresh herb.
Freezing: You can freeze fresh herbs by washing young tender leaves in several changes of cool water. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels. Seal small amounts of the leaves into freezer bags, label and freeze.
Shelf Life For Spices
Ground Spices: 2-3 years
Whole Spices: 3-4 years
Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Extracts: 4 years, except pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely
*tip* Here in Pennsylvania, we observe daylight savings time. Every season when we change our clocks, I will take the time out to go through my spice cabinet and remove any outdated products.
How To Properly Store Herbs and Spices
You will want to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place. A good place would be inside your pantry closet or inside your kitchen cupboard. You never want to leave them out in sunlight or right near your stove where heat and moisture can destroy them.
When it comes to cooking with herbs and spices, you need to know the basics. Once you know the basics, you will feel more comfortable in using them. There are several good books out in the marketplace that you can purchase to use as a guide. The book I like to recommend is by Jill Norman. It’s called, Herbs and Spices, The Cook’s Reference.
Shelly Hill has been working from home in Direct Sales since 1989 and is a Manager with Tupperware. Shelly enjoys cooking and baking and spending time in her kitchen. You can visit Shelly online at http://my.tupperware.com/Ravish30
Recipe Blog: http://wahmshelly.blogspot.com
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