Tag Archives: spices

10 Herbs Every Cook Should Know!

Dried herbs are an easy and convenient way to add flavor to all of your favorite dishes! Having them on hand allows you to explore all types of cooking on the fly!

Storing and using your Dried Herbs

  • Always store herbs in a cool dry place away from heat or direct sunlight, in order to get the best shelf life from your herbs.
  • If you use jars, be sure they are air tight!
  • Most herbs can be used for up to one year when stored properly before losing flavor and potency.
  • To convert from fresh to dried herbs in any recipe, use 1 tsp of dried for every Tbsp of fresh.
  • Adding your herbs to your oil before adding it your food is a good way to re-hydrate your herbs before using them.
  • Since dried herbs have best flavor when re-hydrated, add them when you start cooking or at least 15-20 minutes before you finish.  They best when added to a recipe during the cooking process rather than sprinkling them on top.

The Herbs

Dill
Dried dill is useful where fresh isn’t available, to give a Scandinavian touch to fish, egg dishes and potatoes (don’t confuse with dill seeds, which are used in pickles).

 

Oregano

Oregano is the one herb that is generally considered better dried than fresh. It’s indispensable in Italian and Mexican cooking, especially with tomatoes and cheese. Its cousin marjoram is often overlooked, but offers a sweeter, less assertive flavour, useful for red meats! It has a bold overpowering flavor, so it’s best paired with strong flavored dishes.

 

Bay Leaves
A couple of bay leaves will give mellow sweetness to braises, stews, stocks and soups. A bay leaf also makes a pleasing change when flavoring custards and rice puddings – infuse in heated milk, or stir in with the rice.

 

Thyme

Dried thyme is a multi-purpose herb to pop into a soup or casserole when a sprig of fresh is not available. Also great with chicken, and a staple of Black Bean Soup!

 

Cinnamon

This is a  a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Some initial studies claim it helps to reduce blood glucose and bad cholesterol, but more research is needed. What isn’t needed is an excuse to add cinnamon to your breakfast oats, hot milk, cakes and pies, or meat marinades.

 

Rubbed Sage

Rubbed Sage is better than powdered. It lacks the zing of fresh, but it complements poultry, pork and butternut squash and stuffings.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary adds a pine fragrance to slow-cooked dishes (particularly Italian-style soups, stews, braises and all lamb dishes). Use sparingly, and chop if you don’t want spiky leaves in your finished dish.

 

 

Black Peppercorns

 This is salt’s twin brother and always adds a kick to a dish. It is probably the most popular spice in the world. Best to buy the whole peppercorns and a grinder, but buying ground is fine too. For a sharper bite, try white pepper.

 

Ginger Powder

 The ginger root is a cornerstone of Asian cooking, imparting a slightly sweet, slightly hot flavor. Goes well will garlic in many Thai, Indian, and Chinese dishes.  Ginger may help stop nausea and may also relieve heartburn and bloating. Try a ginger and honey tea when you’re under the weather.

 

Basil

There’s nothing like basil in a tomato sauce or tomato salad. It’s easy to grow basil as a potted plant on a windowsill. Keeping a supply of dried basil at home, ensures you always have this amazing spice on hand!