Cooking with herbs and spices is a lot of fun! You can easily add exciting flavors to your food and beverages without extra sugar, fat or salt.
Most people think that herbs and spices are the same thing – but they are not!
Herbs are the edible, fragrant, leafy green part of a small plant. (basil, mint, rosemary, chives, oregano, dill, sage)
Spices come from the bark, root, buds, berries or seeds of plants or trees. (cinnamon, ginger, onion, garlic, cloves, paprika)
Herbs can be grown at home, purchased fresh at your local farmers’ market or in fresh and dry forms at the grocery store.
How to store dried herbs and spices:
Store dried herbs and spices in airtight glass containers in a cool, dark, dry place like a cabinet or a drawer. Only paprika, chili powder and red pepper should be stored in the refrigerator so they will retain their red color. DO NOT store other herbs and spices in the refrigerator. If stored properly, herbs and ground spices should stay fresh for one year and whole spices should be usable for two years. Label the container with the date of purchase using a permanent marking pen.
How to store fresh herbs:
Fresh herbs should be stored in the refrigerator, except for basil. Thoroughly rinse leaves under running water, shake to remove moisture then dry well by patting with a clean cloth or paper towel. Once dry, move them into the refrigerator. They should last for 4-7 days.
Delicate leafy herbs like cilantro, parsley and mint - Snip off the bottom of the stem, remove damaged or brown leaves, then put in a jar with about one inch of water in the bottom. Cover the jar with a lid or plastic wrap. Change the water daily.
Basil - Snip off the bottom of the stem, remove damaged or brown leaves, then put in a jar with about one inch of water in the bottom. Leave the jar uncovered on your counter and keep out of direct sunlight. Change the water daily.
Firm leaved herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage – wrap loosely in a damp paper towel. Store in a zip-type plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator or in an airtight container.
Fresh herbs and dried herbs are not used in the same quantity in a recipe. Here is a guide to help you use the right amount in your recipe:
- FRESH HERBS – 1 Tablespoon finely cut
- DRIED HERBS – 1 teaspoon crumbled
- GROUND DRIED HERBS – ¼ to ½ teaspoon (start with small amount first and taste the recipe)
Give it a try!
You can experiment with one or more of these combinations:
- Add fresh mint and lemon to a glass of ice water.
- Omit the salt when cooking pasta and flavor with basil, oregano, parsley and pepper or use an Italian seasoning blend.
- For more flavor, add spices to uncooked dishes, such as salads, several hours before serving.
- Introduce children to herbs and spices with some easy flavor combinations such as apples with cinnamon, bananas with nutmeg and chicken with rosemary.
How do you add these wonderful flavors to your vegetable dishes?
Try adding these herbs and spices:
- Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
- Corn: Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley
- Green Beans: Dill, curry powder, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme
- Greens: Onion, pepper
- Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage
- Summer Squash: Cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
- Winter Squash: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion
- Tomatoes: Basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper
Make some of these easy recipes:
- Watermelon and Tomato Salad with fresh basil.
- Bok Choy Stir-Fry using either fresh or dried ginger.
- Crunchy Cinnamon Chips if you love cinnamon.
- Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken, Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts to try fresh rosemary or thyme.