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Cooking With Herbs and Spices
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Herbs and spices have been used from the earliest times to not only flavor foods, but as healing medications too. For fresh and dried herbs, the complete plant from seed, root, blossom and stem is utilized for cooking and medicinal purposes. Spices impart stronger flavors and are more aromatic than herbs. Spices need very small quantities in cooking, as when used too liberally will overpower all other flavors in a dish. Spices can also be used to preserve foods. Spices are tropical in origin and are available in most countries. While the standard herbs used in most dishes are available almost worldwide, some herbs, being plants, are only native to certain regions.

With the fight against holding water in the body, and for the weight conscious individual, there is no need to use salt, as herbs and spices are good replacements for the taste and flavoring agent that people associate with salt. The calorie count of dried herbs and spices is between four and seven per teaspoon. A good dish is enhanced with the right herbs and spices. An ordinary dish is made into a mouth watering sensation with subtle herb flavors and spicy aromas. Fresh herbs will keep a few days to a week in the fridge when stored in a wet paper towel or the packet they were bought in. Dried herbs can retain their flavor for up to a year, and are best kept in airtight containers of pottery or glass. Spices last longer than dried herbs and need to be kept in airtight containers. Always store dried herbs and spices away from light and heat, and not over the stove.

There is a wonderful world of flavors and aromas awaiting you when you use herbs and spices in your cooking. If you have never used herbs and spices because you are not sure which herb goes with which dish, or what spice to add to that curry you are making, then you have come to the right place. The secret here is in the taste.

When using herbs or spices for the first time, by using only one per dish you can gage by taste whether you will need to add more. With fresh herbs, the flavor is more subtle than dried herbs, so you would need to add more. Only add the fresh herbs just before the end of the cooking process, then let simmer for another five minutes. This short cooking time is needed for fresh herbs to keep their delicate flavor.

When using dried herbs use less than you would when using fresh herbs. As the flavor is more concentrated in dried herbs, they keep their flavors well, even when used in high temperature cooking. Use a little less than a teaspoon to start with, until you have done the taste test. Herbs and spices can be used in stews, curries and casseroles that have as the basic ingredients onions, garlic, meat, potatoes and vegetables.

For stews and casseroles: Thyme, mace, marjoram, rosemary, oregano and tarragon

For curries: Bay leaves, curry powder, cardamom seeds, marsala, turmeric, ginger, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, coriander seeds and fenugreek.

Remember with spices: less is more, so use sparingly for maximum flavor.

Author name:
Sergey Brinchok
Author info :
Sergey Brinchok has been writing articles for nearly 2 years. Latest projects: Breville Toaster
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