A Beginner's Guide to Herbs and Spices
Herbs and Spices
When it comes to cooking, you can easily use herbs, spices, and seasonings virtually any way you like. A general rule is that herbs come from the leaves of plants and spices are made from the seeds, berries or roots. The health benefits are nearly the same so it boils down to what flavors that appeal to you.
Today you can get herbs fresh or dry. Spices usually come whole or ground. Fresh herbs have the ability to add wonderful flavor to most dishes. Dried herbs are cheaper and last longer so they are always good to have on hand to use when throwing a meal together.
They are also really good for creating rubs and marinades since they usually are more potent that fresh herbs. Spices are almost nearly always dried and as stated before can come in whole or ground. Whole spices can be ground up by using a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.
Doing this will give you the freshest taste possible. A good example of this is the use of black pepper corns. A lot of people use a pepper grinder to get the freshest taste from their pepper. Ground spices are more convenient when you are short on time.
A general rule is the use of leafy fresh herbs should be used at the end of dishes to preserve their flavor and texture. Dried herbs and spices are best when they are added at the start of cooking so their flavors can permeate the dish.
Where you are a beginner using herbs, spices and seasonings can seem a bit overwhelming. What you need to keep in mind is that they aren’t any more difficult that seasoning with salt and pepper. Lets say you are making a stir-fry. You can use chili flakes instead of salt to give it some spice or you can add cumin to a lentil soup to enhance the flavors.
It is best to make dishes you are familiar with making and experiment with different spices. You may find that your familiar dishes are now even better with different blends of spices added to them.
A little bit of spice goes a long way
You don’t want to go to crazy with spices. Over doing it can really destroy the taste of the foods you are making. Slow and steady is the key us adding spice. Because they have a lot of flavor you can use small amounts and find they give big results. You can always taste as you cook and add more if needed. If you put a lot in you can’t take it out if upon tasting you find it is over powering.