Food taste and smell better when properly seasoned. The appropriate use of culinary herbs and spices will enhance the natural flavor of food. Various spices and herbs can complement a particular dish. However, it is essential to be selective in making combinations in order not to obscure but to bring out the natural zest and aroma of the dish you are cooking.
Here are some basic guide and important points to ponder when using culinary herbs and spices.
Avoid using too many combinations at a time.
Chefs and the best cooks prefer fresh herbs, aside that they provide bold flavor, fresh herbs are great for garnishing too. Nevertheless, if fresh herbs are not available, dried herbs can be a good substitute and work just as well on many occasions. Professional cooks advise to use 1/3 to half the amount of dried herb to fresh herb as dried ones are much stronger than its fresh form.
Some herbs can be added at the beginning for more blended flavors while some may be added near the end of cooking like when cooking stews.
Ground spices and herbs can quickly release its flavor, thus to reduce cooking off its essence it usually added near the end of cooking time. On the other hand, bay leaves and whole spices release flavor more slowly than ground form.
For salad dressings and other cold servings add spices and herbs a few hours to stand before serving to allow flavor to blend in.
The amount of use for herbs and spices can vary and can be adjusted depending on individual taste. It is recommended to start with a small amount then add and adjust as necessary.
Always buy a high quality dried herbs or spices in bottles or in tightly closed containers and monitor its expiration date. Discard and never use it when it is already expired.