Dried herbs and spices are an important backbone of every pantry. With dried herbs and spices you can transform simple dishes into something special, flavorful and different each day. Here are 10 tips and helpful information about using dried herbs and spices, plus how to enter the Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!
10 tips for buying and using dried herbs and spices:
- Date the bottles. When you open new bottle, be sure to write the date on the container. Dried herbs and spices last from 6 months to 1 year. They don’t spoil, but they do lose their potency and flavor.
- Freshness. How to tell if your herbs and spices are old? The smell test. If they don’t have a strong fragrance, the flavor is likely gone. Toss them and buy a new bottle.
- Buy new-to-you herbs and spices in small quantities to experiment, then in larger quantities to save money when you find the ones you use most frequently.
- Storage. Store herbs and spices in a cool dark place, away from sunlight and heat. Sun and heat accelerate their expiration. Some people store them in the freezer for longer staying power. And make sure the container is airtight.
- Dried herbs and spices need time and moisture to rehydrate during cooking to release their flavor. Add dried herbs around the start of cooking to help them rehydrate and release their flavor. With spices it will depend on the recipe. One example, I will add mine to sautéing onions and oil to release their scent and flavor when making a chili, stew or sauce.
- The rule for substituting dried herbs for fresh is 1:3. Example, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs versus 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of a fresh herb. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so you use less. Their taste can also be a bit different than the fresh version. As always, taste and adjust for your personal preference. Use more if needed.
- Rub dried herbs between your hands to release the natural oils before putting into the pot. A trick my mom taught me years ago.
- Herb or spice? Dried herbs are the leaves of the plants. Spices are from the stems, bark (like cinnamon) and seeds of plants. Some plants produce both. Cilantro is the leaf form of the plant and coriander is the seed which is ground into a spice (or used whole)
- Spices are most often used in dried form. Some come in whole and ground forms, such as nutmeg, mace and cinnamon. Whole spices can stay aromatic for longer periods, but you have to grind them yourself. Ground is usually more convenient to use.
- To reduce sodium in your diet, ramp up the flavors with herbs, spices and salt-free blends to make up for less salt that you won’t miss because of the great flavors.
The Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway!
Win a fantastic quality, high herb and spice collection from Cooking Planit! The collection includes 26 of the most commonly used herbs and spices every kitchen should have. The retail value is over $100. It’s a great chance to try some new things or refresh your collection (and we can all admit to having old stuff in the pantry). What’s included? Here’s the list! Many of these are favorites that I could not live without.
While you are at it, check out the Cooking Planit application. This award-winning app helps cooks with planning, shopping and even the cooking process so everything comes out on time.
The top 26 spices every kitchen should have:
Three Chances to Enter and Win!
- First chance to win: Subscribe to A Food Centric Life and receive a free recipe each week
- Second chance to win: “Like” A Food Centric Life on Facebook and leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite spice
- Third chance to win: Twitter about the Cooking Planit Spice Giveaway and mention @FoodCentricLife. Paste a link to your Tweet in an additional comment below
Want more chances to win? Each participating site listed below will run their own unique week-long contest with a winner being announced on the eighth day. That’s 50 total contests and 50 chances to win this terrific giveaway! Be sure to check them out.
The Official Rules (You know, these days the legal stuff has to be listed, below)
No purchase necessary to enter or win. Giveaway is open only to legal residents of the 50 states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia, with a U.S. shipping address, who are physically located and residing therein, and who are 18 years of age at time of entry.
The sweepstakes starts at the time of this post Sunday March 24, 2013 and ends Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM PST. Winners will be chosen by the luck of the draw, via a random number generator, at that time. The winner will be chosen on day 8 and notified via email. Winner must respond within 5 days or the prize will be forfeited. Another random number will be generated and a new winner announced. This prize has been gifted to A Food Centric Life for the giveaway from Cooking Planit.