Spices can improve the taste of the dishes being served at the table and they are used a lot in the culinary arts. From plant or animal origin, herbs and spices can be easily incorporated into all our recipes. Whether making entrees, salads, main dishes or desserts, herbs and spices just make them even better. For a successful kitchen and to leave a good impression on your guests, learn to choose the right herbs and spices.
1. How to buy herbs and spices and how to choose them well.
When they are ground, a number of spices begin to lose their flavor and fragrance, so don’t buy powdered herbs and spices in large quantities. It is better to buy them whole and grind them as and when, according to your needs. Also, be sure to avoid buying dusty seeds, broken, hollow or shrunken berries.
For proper maintenance of taste and appearance, it is best to buy your herbs and spices whole, in sealed or capped bottles or cans. Avoid cardboard packaging because the paper absorbs much of their essential oils and makes them lose aroma. Be sure to label the contents.
Here are great links to buy herbs and spices online:
2. How to use spices
It is easy to become familiar with the spices that are widely available in supermarkets and in any market areas. Moreover, they will do well in all kinds of food. Thus, it is not necessary to prepare elaborate dishes, since a simple recipe can be perfectly suitable for their use.
The only complexity that may crop up is in the choice of one herb rather than another to improve the flavor and aroma of a dish and stimulate the appetite of your guests. It is here that we must be vigilant and develop our knowledge
3. What kind of herbs?
Herbs are ingredients or plant extracts used to enhance the flavor and smell of food. These are not spices such as nutmeg and green pepper, or condiments that accompany certain foods such as soy sauce and mustard.
They include rather simple herbs such as cilantro and mint, exotic herbs such as shiso and chives, mixed herbs such as bouquet garni, and herbs and broths as Viandox, where the cube is incorporated into cooking.
4. How to use herbs
You can use the following herbs to complement white meat dishes, such as chicken and fish: tarragon, caper, shallot, fennel and garlic .
For red meat such as beef and duck, bay leaf and garlic can be used. As for dark meat, such as partridge and wild boar, juniper, rosemary, sage and thyme are the most popular. When cooking other types of meat with vegetables and potatoes, such as in stews or soups, onion, chervil, bay leaf, bouquet garni and basil are most appropriate.
If you make a béchamel sauce or aioli, you should use capers, garlic, mint, onion, basil, rosemary, savory, chives, parsley, shallots, bouquet garni, chervil and herbs. For vegetables such as lettuce, you might prefer chervil, garlic, chives, parsley and shallots. And when making pastry, anise flavoring is ideal.
You can check this more comprehensive post about aromatic herbs , and learn how to grow your own aromatic herbs at home, as well as the best way to dry herbs for your cooking and for herbal teas.
5. The presentation of spices on shelves
Spices are presented fresh, dried or ground. However, there is no great difference in the power of their flavor. They may also be presented in frozen form, dried or in a paste. This has the advantage of optimizing their potency and possibly their appearance.
As for frozen spices, they retain their flavor and perfect texture. Freeze-dried herbs, in turn, have much better taste than dried spices that have to air in the oven or the sun. Spices in paste form provide a strong flavor to baked goods and sauces.
6. How to mix spices
Bouquets of herbs are often in high demand for the composition of certain recipes. They are chosen for their aromas and tied together with string. They consist mainly of bay leaf and thyme and possibly parsley, rosemary, sage, celery, savory, garlic and leek, and they can perfectly complement dishes.
In addition, herbs are similar to the bouquet garni in the result and type of use. Ingredients invariably consist of tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives. Herbs can be bought by themselves as individual ingredients or together, ready to use.
7. How to store your herbs
Spices tend to lose some of their properties during storage if you do not consider certain factors. Fresh herbs can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. Freezing is a possible alternative, especially for chives, parsley and basil, which can be minced and poured into ice cube trays. Herbs that are to be frozen should be placed in the freezer quickly.
Care must be taken to handle spices and herbs away from sources of heat so that the remaining unused portions don’t take on a blackish color. For dehydrated and freeze-dried herbs, it would be better to keep them dry and cool. Before use, they must be soaked in a bowl of water to rehydrate them — Also Read : How to Substitute Cream in your Kitchen