Kate's Cuisine

Jun 14 2009

Tips on Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices really are what makes average-tasting dishes taste like they just came out of a gourmet kitchen. And wherever you go, there seem to be different theories on how to store them, how to buy them, and how to use them. Here’s the truth about herbs and spices that I’ve found from my very own kitchen.

  • The general rule of thumb is that herbs and spices should be kept in a cool and dry place. This eliminates your counter top and it eliminates the top of the stove. Supposedly. But the top of the stove is exactly where I keep most of my spices and I also have a spice rack that sits on the counter beside my stove. Both seem to work out fine.
  • Herbs and spices generally keep their potency for about a year. Whole herbs such as coriander or cloves may keep for as long as 3-5 years.
  • Whole spices are wonderful to use because you can grind them up just before you use them, which brings more flavour or you can toast them, which will do the same thing. Be warned however, that neither of these are time-saving tips.
  • If you buy your herbs in large quantities and want to keep them fresh, place them in an airtight container and freeze them. Do not place them in the fridge as it’s not cold enough and it’s too humid. The herbs will break down quite easily.
  • Rubbing dried herbs in the palm of your hands before adding to your food can help release even more flavour.
  • Dried herbs are much more potent than fresh. If substituting dried for fresh, only use 1/3 of what is called for.

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