The Basics on Herbs and Spices!
1) How to keep fresh Herbs FRESH
-To keep herbs fresh for up to 1 week, trim 1/4 inch from the stem and rinse in cold water. Then loosely wrap herbs in a damp paper towel, then seal in a zip lock bag filled with air. Put in the refrigerator. Check them daily as some can loose their flavor daily.
-You can be like Giada on the Food Channel and have fresh herbs in glass of water on your kitchen counter, this also makes the kitchen smell nice and clean! If you do this, cover the end of the stem in about 1/4 inch of water and change the water every other day. Most herbs will keep for up to a week (cilantro not so much).
-Buying an herb plant keeps the herbs fresh the longest, snip off what you want to use and water your plant accordingly to keep it lasting for weeks or even months.
-Revive limp herbs by trimming the stems about 1/2 inch and place in ice water for a couple of hours and Whaalaa!
-Wash herbs just before using then pat dry with a paper towel.
2) Fresh herbs are always best but not always practical. Rosemary, dill, and thyme dry well and maintain a good flavor.
3) Fresh herbs are not as strong or as concentrated as their dried counterparts. Substituting dried for fresh is 1 to 3 (1 dried:3 fresh).
1 teaspoon dried=1 tablespoon fresh.
Exception: Rosemary, use equal amounts fof dried and fresh.
4) How to make Chiffonade of herbs (popular in recipes calling for basil) - stack the leaves, roll them cigar-style, and cut the roll into thin slices.
5) Flat-leaf parsley is preferred for cooking, it can withstands heat better and has more flavor. Curly leaf is better for garnishing.
6) Use Tarragon toward the end of cooking as heat diminishes flavors or use as garnish.
1) Buy from a store that sells lots of them to avoid getting one that has been sitting on the shelves for months and has lost their potency.
2) Buy spices in the smallest size possible, especially if you know you won't use them very often.
3) For a more subtle effect, use whole spices.
4) For more flavor, bruise or crush them lightly.
5) For more a powerful flavor, crush finer, grind, or mill spices.
6) A mortar and pestle is the best tool for coarsely crushing spices and better flavors. A small and deeper mortar is better than a wide, shallow one to keep the spices from shooting out.
7) A coffee grinder is the best tool for the tougher and woody spices such as cloves and cinnamon. Clean after you use by grinding a small piece of bread or with 2 tablespoons of raw rice.
Storage Tips for Herbs and Spices:
1) Herbs and Ground Spices will retain their best flavors for about 1 year. Whole spices may last for 3-5 years. A smell test is the best way to know if they are still good - if they don't omit aroma when you open the jar they will lack flavor in your food.
2) Store in a cool, dark place as humidity, light, and heat will cause them to lose flavor quickly (In other words, in a spice rack above your stove or in the frig are probably not the best places for storage). May store spices in the freezer if in a tightly sealed container.
1) Longer cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving to prevent overly strong flavors.
2) Heat whole spices in a dry pan to release their natural oils and bring out the best aroma and flavor. Use a small, heavy skillet. Shake the pan or use wooden spatula to toast evenly for 1-3 minutes or until you smell the aroma and toasty smells!
I'm sure there is plenty that I left out but I can't think anymore and I don't want to start boring you if I haven't done so already so I'll go ahead and stop now! Please make a comment if you have something to add to this topic, the more we know the better our cooking experiences will be!
One more thing - You can always make it easier on yourself by using The Delicious Dietitian Spice Blends!! Just saying ;)
Happy Friday Everyone and Enjoy the Weekend!!