Culinary Herbs and Spices

What is making your food taste so good? Culinary Herbs and Spices! Make your food Mmm Mmm Good everyday.

Culinary Herbs and Spices

We've put together two basic lists of herbs and spices to make it easy for you.  Bookmark the pages so they are right at your finger tips. No more flipping through multiple cookbook pages trying to find out if basil goes with fish or how to use up all that mint and parsley growing in the sunshine in your back garden. You'll find lots of tips and suggestions how best to use each of the seasonings listed. Hopefully you'll get inspired to try a flavor or seasoning you haven't used before so don't forget to be creative, too.

Enjoy your cooking and baking. You can purchase your dried herbs and spices bulk or in jars at any of your local stores - but best to get them as fresh as possible so choose a store with a high turnover and buy in small quantities if you can.

As a rule of thumb, store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dry, dark place. That means away from the stove.

Culinary Herbs

Herbs - the cooking variety are officially known as potherbs - include mostly the leafy part of the plant but also some roots, such as, horseradish, onion, and garlic. They can be found fresh and dried and if dried, could be whole, flaked, crushed or ground.

Fresh will give you the most flavorful results. Many grocery stores now have fresh herbs in their Produce department.

You'll also find many are very easy to grow in pots on your windowsill or in your own garden. The fresh flavor and appearance is not to be found in any of the other forms. What a delightful flavor they have and you'll be enchanted to cruise through your garden picking and choosing - or just enjoying the scent!

You can always freeze the extra or make your own flavored vinegar. If you're going to freeze them, there are two good ways.

  • One, wash them well, dry them, chop them and store in airtight containers. Or,
  • Two, chop fine and freeze in water in ice cube trays. 

Then frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags. Don't forget to label them before you put them in the freezer - it's very hard to tell them apart otherwise. You might want to consider freezing them in the quantities or combination you are most likely to need for favorite recipes.

Use as fresh by thawing first or add directly to your dish as it cooks.

Herbs are also easy to dry. Many people use an electric food dehydrator but purists say a lot of flavor is lost. Dehydrators are extremely convenient though and perhaps a more sanitary way to go. If you have a dehydrator with a temperature gauge, follow instructions.

When I had the space, I used to tie up herbs fresh from the gardens in bunches - after washing and drying well - and hang them up to air dry. First, I would tie an elastic around them (you can use string, if you like) then tie a looped string through the elastic to hang them up. You need a place that is high, airy and dry. Putting them in a loose paper bag can keep the dust off, too.

Spices

Spices generally have a more aromatic and exotic scent, often reminiscent of foreign lands and different cultures. Most require higher temperatures, a more tropical climate, to grow. The actual spice may come from the bark, root, fruit, bud, blossom or seed of the plant.

They often require processing so are seldom found fresh. Whole spices are preferable but many have to be ground so again they may only be available in ground form. And, as they usually require shipping, most are more expensive than culinary herbs.

Again store them in a cool dark place. Buy in small quantities as fresher is better.

Culinary Herbs and Spices Charts

Culinary Herbs Chart

Spices Chart

Culinary Herbs and Spices: Return To Homepage

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