Imagine food without spices? It would taste really bland! But overdoing the spices isn’t good either. Seasoning with herbs and spices means complimenting your dishes, not overwhelming the favour of the food.
I have included useful tips on how to use your favourite herbs and spices, how to store them so they stay fresh and if you have a garden and love growing your own herbs – when to pick and how to dry them.
If you are interested in a particular herb or spice and would like to find out more, please use the Herb & Spice Finder below.
If you have any comments regarding the information provided, please let me know.
How to Use Herbs & Spices?Herbs & Spices – bay leave
Cooking spices for too long may result in too strong flavours.
For long-cooking dishes, such as soups and stews, try adding your herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. For best results try crushing the herbs before adding to your dish.
For shorter cooking dishes try adding dry spices earlier in cooking. Fresh spices and herbs should be added towards the end of cooking.
Unless the recipe specifically calls for it, don’t use more than three herbs and spices in any one dish. Some Indian Recipes are an exception to the rule, as they often calls for 10 or more different spices in one curry dish. Unless it is a curry, you are planning of cooking 🙂
Try replacing herbs and spices called for in recipes with something different such as Marjoram instead of Oregano, Savory instead of Thyme, Cilantro, instead of Parsley, Anise seed instead of Fennel. Mixing herbs and spices will provide you with a new art in food preparation by allowing you to create a variety of exciting seasoned dishes.
I do this all the time! Simply because I am not well organised in stocking my cupboard, very often I find I don’t have all ingredients I need. Now, I love not having the ingredients I need, because I can experiment again.
By following these simple tips on using your herbs and spices, you may just create a recipe that will be one of a kind and enjoyed by everyone.
Storing Herbs & Spices
Store spices in a cool, dark place. Heat, humidity and excessive light will result in the dry herbs and spices losing their favour more quickly.
A good way to store herbs and spices are small glass or plastic airtight containers.
If stored properly, dried herbs and ground spices will retain their favours for a year.
Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years.
For best results grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle. If you want to enhance the whole spice favour, try roasting the whole spice in a dry skillet over a medium heat, being careful not to burn them.
To keep larger quantities of herbs and spices fresh, store them in tightly sealed containers in the freezer.
Do not store dry herbs and spices near any humid source, such as sinks, dishwashers, kettles, coffee makers, on countertops, near stoves and microwaves.
Avoid storing dry herbs and spices inside the refrigerator due to the high humid environment.
Drying & Harvesting Herbs
- Try drying herbs on racks, slats or upside down by their stems.
- For best drying, place your herbs in a well ventilated, dry, cool environment. Ensure that you have plenty of air space and turn every few days.
- Another alternative to drying is using the microwave by laying the herbs out on absorbent paper cooking on low for 3 minutes.
- A dehydrator is also another option.
- The best time to pick the leaves or flower buds is when they start to unfurl.
- Try to harvest your herbs shortly after the morning sun as the herbs are most potent then. Seeds must be collected when they turn brown and brittle.
- Never pick herbs in wet or humid conditions.