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Herbs and Spices

People have been intrigued by their smells, tastes and medicinal purposes since they discovered the various and powerful uses of herbs and spices. What many people fail to realize is that the simple herbs and spices that grow in their yard and sit in their kitchen cupboard have played a significant role in human civilization history. Spices were one of the only ways before modern refrigeration that people could keep their food from spoiling or enhancing their flavor.

Difference Between Herbs and Spices

The key to exceptional cooking is these flavorful ingredients, but how do we know when we work with an herb or spice?


While both are used to enhance the taste of food or even to help with illnesses, the difference between the two is what part of the plant they come from.


An herb comes from the leafy parts of plants which have no woody stems. They may be dried or fresh. Dry herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh ones. Any other plant element would be considered a spice — including dried bark, roots, a berry, seeds, twigs, or other plant part used to season or savor a dish.


Cinnamon, for example, is the bark of a tree. Cardamom is a seed pod. A dried berry is Allspice. Cloves are broods of dried flowers. These are all spice examples. Also, remember that spices are used in dried form while herbs may either be used fresh or dried.


Store Herbs and Spices:

  • Avoid exposure to light, moisture, and air. The heat will age your herbs and spices and will bloat them with humidity. If you have space, instead, find a cool, dry spot. However, stop placing them close to other heat and steam producing devices, including the dishwasher, coffee pot, and rice cooker.

  • Use containers that are airtight and ideally that don’t allow light in. Airtight containers work very well since the lids fit nicely, to keep the air, light and moisture out.

Cooking:

  • To avoid introducing these things in the storage containers, measure your herbs and spices away from sources of heat and steam. If you measure in a secondary dish before adding them to your cooking pot, you can also prevent measuring mistakes.

  • Be sure that your measuring spoon is clean and dry before use.

To Sum It Up

Although the dried herbs and spices used to cook do not go bad, over time they lose their color, taste, and aroma. You will get the longest life out of them with proper storage in airtight containers in a cool, dark place, away from heat and moisture. Always familiarize yourself with the tastes and smells so that you know how they relate to your cooking and the freshness features.

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