- USING HERBS & SPICES
- Most meats may be seasoned before, during or after cooking. Steaks and chops can be marinated and seasoned either before or after cooking. To get the most flavor from roasted meat or poultry, rub its surface with seasoning before cooking. Poultry absorbs flavors better if the seasoning is rubbed directly into the flesh, rather than the skin.
- Soups and stews develop their best flavors when the herbs and spices are added during cooking. If they are long-cooking soups or stews, wait until the last 30 minutes to add the seasonings because prolonged cooking in liquid can dissipate the flavor. The same is true for sauces.
- For reduction of salt intake, substitute strong, flavorful spices such as black pepper, curry, cumin, basil, oregano, onion and garlic.
- To develop the flavor of dried herbs, soak them for several minutes in a liquid that can be used in the recipe.
- To release the flavor of dried herbs, crumble them before adding to the dish.
- When using herbs and spices in salad dressing, allow the flavor of the combination to develop by soaking for at least 15 minutes.
- For steamed or boiled vegetables, add the herbs or spices to melted butter and allow to stand for 10 minutes before seasoning the vegetables.
- To intensify the flavors of whole spices, toast then briefly in a dry heavy skillet.
- Dried and fresh herbs may be interchanged in most recipes. Use three to five times more fresh herbs than dried, depending on the strength of the herb.
Fresh herbs should be stored in the refrigerator with the same care that you give other leafy green vegetables. Wash fresh herbs gently and pat them dry with paper towels or dry in a salad spinner. Be sure they are as dry as possible before refrigeration as moisture invites mold growth. Then wrap the herbs in a cloth or paper towel, and wrap loosely in a plastic bag. They should keep for 3–4 days.
If you have an overabundance of fresh herbs and want to store them, snip the leaves from their stems after you have rinsed and drained them. Place the leaves, chopped or whole, in small plastic bags and store them in your freezer. They can be used directly from the freezer for cooking.
To dry fresh herbs either hang them in a dry airy room for several days until they crumble easily or heat them in a shallow baking pan in a 200°F oven until completely dried (15 minutes to an hour depending on the herb). Test the leaves often for dryness.
Dried herbs can be stored considerably longer than fresh herbs, although their flavor does diminish over time. Purchase small amounts and store them immediately in small jars or bottles with tight fitting lids. Label and date the bottles and keep them in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Do not keep dried herbs for more than a year.