Herbs & Spices

INTRODUCTION

1. Aromatic herbs and spices have been used in cooking from the earliest times and they were used extensively during medieval times when spiced food was popular.  The upsurge in vegetarianism in recent years has increased awareness of the benefits herbs and spices can bring to what might otherwise be plain dishes.  Although there is little nutritive value in herbs with the exception of parsley, they form an important ingredient in most every menu.

2. Herbs and spices are usually at their best when picked fresh and used immediately but it is nearly always more practical and convenient to use them in the dried state and excellent results can still be achieved.  The best time to gather them for drying and storing is just before they begin to flower.  They should be picked in dry weather whilst they are still fresh and crips and before they have been exposed to excessive sunlight.  After removal of all discloured leaves they should be hung up to dry in bunches or in paper bags.  The most satisfactory and hygienic method and also the cleanest, is to dry them in a cool oven or in a microwave.  With the exception of sage, which is best dried and stored whole, large leaves should be picked from the stalk before drying.

3. Herbs should find a place in every kitchen.  They help to bring out the natural taste of food, at the same time contributing their own subtle flavour and stimulating the appetite.  Herbs should be added at the start of the cooking process to ensure the flavour blends into the dish.

4. Herbs and spices constitute additional seasoning and flavouring agents and, as such, it is necessary to guard against excessive use.  In this connection it is emphasised that herbs and spices are used in cooking to improve the dishes natural flavours, not to hide them.

If particular herbs and spices need to be removed from the finished product they should be tied up in a small muslin bag before use and are then easily removed befor service.

5. Fresh herbs can also make an attractive garnish.  Parsley in particular, both chopped and whole, is well suited for this purpose.  This particular herb is rich in Vitamin C and should be used frequently.

6. Dried herbs and spices obtained commercially should only be purchased in small quantities as their flavour and aroma deteriorate with lengthy storage.  They should only be kept in airtight containers.  Flavour from dried herbs is stronger therefore use only a third of the amount if substituting dried for fresh.

 

Herbs & Spices

Know Your Herbs & Spices

Angelica Known for its green candied stalk which is invaluable with glace cherries as a sweet decoration.  A piece of the stalk added with fruit to be stewed reduces the tartness a little.   Allspice This is so called because of its flavour, a blend of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. ...

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