What are herbs and spices?
Herbs and spices are plants that are used to add flavor to various foods. Some common herbs and spices include basil, bay leaves, cumin, garlic, ginger, parsley, pepper, and turmeric. These plants are typically dried or ground into a powder and then mixed into food.
How Do Herbs and Spices Evolve?
Herbs and spices are playing an increasing role in American cooking. It’s been a long, slow process. Many of us remember growing up in the 1950s and 60s with only salt and pepper on the table, plus a jumble of small tins of spices in a cupboard that was only used for very special occasions. American cuisine, particularly in the Midwest, has tended to be bland, and the introduction of processed convenience foods hasn’t helped matters any.
The trend toward replacing salt with herbs and spices has been one of the delightful surprises of the twenty-first century. Pioneers like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame have led the charge, and everyone from restaurateurs to mothers (and fathers) cooking at home have followed suit. Nowadays, the consensus is who needs salt when you can experience the flavors of herbs and spices?
If you’re thinking of incorporating more herbs into your cooking you might be put off by the dazzling array to choose from. “What if I get the wrong one and ruin dinner?” you might be thinking.
The price tag of $5 per bottle for good organic dried herbs can also add up quickly. You can solve this problem by sticking to a core group of herbs that work well for many foods and adding the more exotic, specialized ones to your collection later when you get more experience with using them.
Use small amounts at first and get a feel for how much is too little and how much is too much. Spice racks are available to keep your herb collection organized and ready at your fingertips while you’re in the kitchen.
Herbs and spices can be classified as mild or pungent. The mild varieties contain a lower concentration of oils, so they impart less flavor.
The pungent varieties have larger amounts of oil, so a little goes a long way. Use the milder herbs in dishes that are primarily vegetable or grain-based, or finely textured fish. Reserve the pungent herbs for meat, poultry, and fish with a texture similar to meat.
How do herbs and spices work?
Herbs and spices are known for their magical properties. They have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments and conditions, from relieving fever to boosting appetite. What are the mechanisms by which herbs and spices work? Herbs and spices contain chemicals called phytochemicals, which are responsible for their healing properties.
Some of the most well-known phytochemicals in herbs and spices include polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. These chemicals interact with our body in different ways to produce their therapeutic effects.
For example, polyphenols can protect cells from damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS), Flavonoids can stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, terpenes can help to block inflammation, and cannabinoids can promote anti-inflammatory processes.
The mechanisms by which herbs and spices work are complex, but their healing properties are based on natural ingredients that have been used for centuries to improve health.
Which herbs and spices are good for which purposes?
There are many herbs and spices that can be used for a variety of purposes.
Here are a few examples:
- herbs for cooking
- herbs for cleansing
- herbs for boosting your immune system
- herbs to improve digestion
- herbs to reduce inflammation
How to use herbs and spices
When cooking, it is always a good idea to use herbs and spices. Herbs and spices are not only tasty, but they also have many magical properties that can enhance your food.
Here are some tips on using herbs and spices:
-Start by stocking your kitchen with a variety of fresh herbs and spices. Having a variety will allow you to create more flavorful dishes.
-Store herbs in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. This will help them retain their potency along with flavor.
-When using herbs or spices, be sure to read the recipe thoroughly before beginning. This will help you choose the ingredients that are best suited for the dish you are preparing.
-Add a few drops of oil or lemon juice to your pan before adding the herb or spice. This will help the herb or spice flavor the food without overwhelming it.
How to store herbs and spices
1. Keep your herbs and spices in a cool, dark place.
2. Avoid high temperatures and light.
3. Store away from onions, garlic, eggs, and other strong-smelling ingredients.
4. Use fresh herbs and spices whenever possible.
5. Store unused herbs and spices in a closed container for up to six months.
6. When using herbs and spices, be sure to read the recipe thoroughly to determine how much to use.
The mild herbs include:
* Basil – has a wonderful aroma when fresh. Heating it or drying it tones down the flavor and scent considerably. Although it’s thought of as an Italian herb, it can be used in non-ethnic dishes of many kinds and is a favorite any time tomatoes are present.
* Cilantro – like basil, cilantro behaves more like a pungent herb in its fresh state but settles down after drying or cooking. It’s a favorite for Mexican and Lebanese recipes and is a wonderful complement to stews with lamb or lentils.
* Dill – pungent when fresh, dill imparts a mild tang when dried or cooked. Excellent in pasta salads and over mild varieties of fish like salmon and whitefish.
The pungent herbs include:
* Oregano – the classic herb for Italian cooking, especially tomato sauce. Strong when fresh and even stronger dried.
* Rosemary and sage – these two herbs are the standard spices for seasoning poultry dishes. A dash of rosemary also goes well in cream-based soups and sauces, such as cream of cauliflower soup, and alfredo sauce.
* Thyme – a friend of red meat, thyme can be used fresh or dried to enhance beef roast, steak, lamb, and even veal and more robust types of fish like tuna and marlin.
* Garlic – not technically an herb, garlic is a must-have item in every kitchen. Keep the bulbs around along with a good garlic press, and use the powder for convenience when you want to put a dish together fast. Use it for soups, red meat, poultry, and of course Italian dishes.
Herbs and spices are an essential part of any kitchen and for good reason. They add flavor, depth, and complexity to food, making them some of the most versatile ingredients around. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best herbs and spices for cooking and baking. We’ll also discuss how to use them in conjunction with other ingredients, as well as offer some tips on finding the right ones for your needs. So whether you’re looking to cook something new or just make your old favorites taste even better, herbs and spices are definitely worth considering.