Herbs and Spices: Tips for Success
How often have you asked yourself: What is that spice used for? What does it taste like? What’s the difference between herbs and spices? Let’s look into the definitions of herbs and spices, tips for success using herbs and spices, and lastly a guide to help define the herb or spice and how it may be used.
HERBS & SPICES
Often the terms herbs and spices are used interchangeably, but they are distinctly different. They are both used to enhance and add flavor as well as balance the taste of strong and mild flavors. Herbs come from the leaf or soft portions of plants while spices come from the roots, buds, flowers, fruits, bark, or seeds of plants.
Each herb or spice has its own flavoring strength. Therefore, the flavors will vary with different foods, other seasonings, and the form of the herb or spice. Be creative when using the seasonings, but gradually incorporate new herbs and spices, as young children are developing food preferences.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Start small. Start with a small amount and add more until the product has a great taste and aroma. In general, start with a ¼ teaspoon per pint or pound.
- Add seasonings at the right time. Typically, when preparing quick-cook foods, such as steamed vegetables, seasonings are added at the very beginning. However, when preparing slow-cook foods, such as soups and stews, seasonings are often added during the last 45 minutes to savor the flavors.
- Purchase and store the basics. Herbs and spices are available for purchase in fresh or dried form. Keep the common spices used most often on hand, such as rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and pepper.
- Store properly. Date and label seasonings by listing the purchase date on the container. Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. To extend the shelf-life of fresh herbs, rinse, drain, wrap in moist paper towels, put in containers, and place in the refrigerator.
- Use herbs wisely. Heat builds in foods quickly. Be careful when adding hot seasonings, such as red pepper, cayenne, and peppercorns, to avoid creating a too spicy or flavor-intense food. Use fresh onion, fresh garlic, onion powder, or garlic powder instead of salt-based spice mixes, garlic salt, or onion salt to reduce the sodium content in your meals.
Herbs and Spices
The following will be a list of commonly made foods and which herbs or spices complement them. No doubt, you may have found other combinations, enjoy experimenting.
Apple Pie – cardamom, fennel, cinnamon
Baked Goods – ginger, nutmeg
Beets – rosemary
Buns – cinnamon, coriander, poppy seed
Cakes – cinnamon, coriander, poppy seed
Candies – mint
Cauliflower – rosemary
Cheese – mustard, caraway, oregano
Chili Powder – cumin (an ingredient in)
Coleslaw – dill
Cookies – cinnamon, anise, coriander, poppy seed
Curry Powder – cumin (an ingredient in)
Eggplant – rosemary; thyme with butter
Egg Salad – tarragon
Fish – ginger, dill, bay leaves
Frozen Desserts – mint
Fruit Cakes – allspice, cloves
Garnish Spice – paprika
Green Beans – basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme with butter
Green Salads – chives
Green Vegetables – chives, parsley
Guacamole – cumin
Macaroni – dill, turmeric
Meats – ginger, mustard, red pepper, caraway, dill, oregano, sage
Mustard Recipes – turmeric
Noodles – poppy seed
Pasta – poppy seed
Peas – basil
Pies – allspice, cinnamon, cloves
Pizza – basil, oregano
Potatoes – cloves, chives, turmeric (on mashed potatoes)
Potato Salad – bay leaves, dill
Poultry – ginger, anise, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, turmeric
Poultry Stuffing – sage
Preserves – cloves
Puddings – nutmeg
Pumpkin pie – cardamom, cinnamon
Rice – cilantro, turmeric
Rolls – fennel, poppy seed topping
Rye Bread – caraway
Salad Dressings – mustard, paprika, parsley, sage, tarragon, turmeric
Sandwiches – dill, mustard
Sandwich Spreads – parsley
Sauces – nutmeg, red pepper, basil, chives, dill, mustard
Sauerkraut – caraway
Seafood – fennel, thyme (on creole dishes), turmeric
Soups – caraway, parsley
Stews – caraway
Stir Fry – cilantro
Summer Squash – rosemary
Sweet Potatoes – allspice, nutmeg
Tacos – cilantro
Tomatoes – allspice, cloves, oregano, thyme with butter
Tomato Sauce – basil, bay leaves, parsley
Vegetables – nutmeg, marjoram
Vegetable Soups – basil
Wide Variety of Foods – peppercorns, parsley
Zucchini – basil, oregano
Author: Michelle Hanson
Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: email@example.com. She will look forward to meeting you!