Herbs and spices render a distinct aroma and flavor to food, plus theyre easy on the pocketand excellent for health. For those of you who find anything more than salt and pepper complicated, heres a simple primer to guide you on how to use these seasonings in everyday cooking to get the maximum benefit out of them. And if in the process, you begin to enjoy the very act of cooking your own food, feel free to check out our four-part series on Cooking For Beginners, where we teach you how to shop for groceries, stock them correctly in your pantry and fridge, easy-peasy dips that require little or no cooking, and finally, simple meals to start your culinary adventures with.For the more seasoned pros, we rustled up a bunchof cool hacks for getting your roast chicken perfectly golden, making the perfectly sweet, piquant salsa, and even cracking the code with marinades, vinaigrettes, baked pasta, and granola.But it doesn't matter which side of the scale you swing toward, as long as you're curious about cooking and willing to be proactive about eating healthy to live a better life, we're here to help. These handy hints will help you score when it comes to working with herbs and spices as food flavor enhancers:
- Add dry herbs in the initial process of cooking and add the fresh ones in the end.
- Avoid using two strong seasonings together. Instead, combine a strong and a mild one to get a pleasant spicy flavor.
- Use dry herbs in powdered form to extract maximum flavor from them.
- Dry herbs are stronger than the fresh ones, hence they are used used in a lesser quantity.
- Chop fresh herbs in very fine pieces so that they blend well withthe entire dish. Big leaves can taste overwhelming when eaten, leaving the rest of the dish bland.
- Recipes that are eaten cold need time to absorb the flavor. It is best to add the spices a few hours before you serve them, thus giving them enough time to blend with the food. Also, cold foods numb our taste buds so adding a little extra flavor on the top just before serving will enhance the taste.
- Dried herbs taste best when consumed within one year of their manufacturing.
- No matter how convenient it is to keep spices next to the stove, it is not an ideal place. Heat, air, and moisture cause the natural flavor of dried herbs and spices to fade away. It is preferable to store them in air-tight containers and keep them in a cool, dry place, somewhere in a kitchen cabinet.
- To ensure that the food isflavorful, use fresh herbs. Remember, the better they smell, the better theyll taste.
- Freeze fresh herbs to increase their shelf-life. Discard the stems and store the leaves in a freezer bag.