Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Herbs and Spices

Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Herbs and Spices

Cooking with herbs and spices is something that you should learn to master if you want to cook healthy and delicious meals. If this is your first time to enter the world of herbs and spices, then here are some guidelines to teach you what you need to know.

What Herbs and Spices Are

Before you learn how to cook with herbs and spices, you need to learn first what they are. Herbs usually refer to the flowers and leaves of a certain plant. Rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil and cilantro are examples of common herbs. Meanwhile, spices like pepper and cinnamon are extracted from other parts of the plant. These parts can be the bark, seeds, fruit or even the roots.

Common Herbs and Spices

If you're planning to start using herbs and spices in your dishes then it's helpful to know what the basic ones are so you can start there. Basil is one of the most common herbs used in cooking. Even though sweet basil is perhaps the most popular, basil has many other varieties. You can use basil to give flavor to dishes that involve poultry, tomatoes, lamb and fish. It is also ideal for soups and salads. Basil is used in many Mediterranean dishes.

Cayenne pepper, also known as red pepper, is a spice that you can use if you're cooking Thai or Mexican meals. It can be very hot, so be careful not to use too much on your dishes.

If you are looking for an herb that has a slightly tangy flavor then you should try cilantro. Known for its citrus-like taste, cilantro should be used while it is fresh. You can add cilantro to salads, rice recipes and grilled meat.

Cinnamon is probably best-known for lending flavor to coffee and your favorite pastries, but it can also be used to spice up fruits, vegetables and meat dishes.

Chances are you're already using garlic in your kitchen. Garlic can be used in almost any dish. Use it when you're making Oriental, Mexican or Italian dishes.

Ginger is another commonly used spice. Fresh ginger can be used in making dressing for fruit salads. It can also be used to make a marinade mixture for fish or chicken. When ginger is ground, it can be used in baked goods such as gingerbread, pumpkin pie and spice cake.

Nutmeg is another spice that can be used in pastries. You can also use it to lend flavor to your French toast or eggnog during the holidays.

Rosemary and thyme are herbs that are usually paired with each other. Rosemary has a flavor that is very similar to lemon. Both herbs are ideal for meat dishes, stews and soups. Both herbs are also commonly used in vegetable dishes.

Herbs and Spices Buying Tips

When shopping for herbs and spices, try to buy them in small quantities. Even though herbs and spices do not have an expiration date, they do start to lose their flavor after several months. It's also best to store your herbs and spices in cool, dark places inside sealed containers.