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Trying to lower your blood pressure or reduce your sodium intake? If you read food labels, you will see most prepared and processed food items are full of sodium. Why not try preparing your own favorite dishes and season them with herbs? With a little creativity, you’ll get great flavor, less sodium and a healthier meal.
How much seasoning do you use?
As a rule of thumb, do not use more than 3/4 teaspoon of fresh (1/4 of dried) per pound of meat (or four servings or one pint of soup or sauce). When using dried cayenne pepper or garlic powder, start with 1/8 teaspoon and adjust as needed. Red pepper intensifies in flavor during cooking, so you want to add it in small increments. When your recipe calls for finely cut fresh herbs, keep in mind that you can substitute dried herbs, but will need less. If your recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh herbs, use one teaspoon of dried leafy herbs or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground, dried herbs.
When do you add spices to foods?
You should add your ground spices to foods about 15 minutes before the end of cooking time. Whole spices should be added at least one hour before the end of cooking time. Dried herbs need to be crushed before adding to foods. Add fresh herbs near the end of cooking time, as prolonged heat can cause flavor and aroma loss. Always remove whole spices before serving; this is much easier if you place them in a tea ball. If you are seasoning uncooked foods, add spices and herbs several hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
What spice do you add to what food?
Below is a list of foods and the spices that go best with them. These are only suggestions, so experiment and see what combinations you can create as well.
Beef: Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme.
Lamb: Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint.
Pork: Garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano.
Veal: Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano.
Chicken: Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme.
Fish: Curry powder, dill, dry mustard, marjoram, paprika, pepper.
Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage.
Corn: Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley.
Green beans: Dill, curry powder, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme.
Greens: Onion, pepper.
Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage.
Summer squash: Cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage.
Winter squash: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion.
Tomatoes: Basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper.
Cucumbers: chives, dill, garlic, vinegar.
Peas: Green pepper, mint, fresh mushrooms, onion, parsley.
Rice: Chives, green pepper, onion, paprika, parsley.
What is the shelf life of dried herbs and spices?
As a general rule, the flavor quality is best if ground herbs or spices are kept for no longer than one year and whole spices are kept for no longer than two years. If you are unsure as to when you purchase a spice or herb, test for freshness by giving it the old “smell test.” If it smells strong and flavorful, it’s probably still potent. To smell whole spices, such as peppercorns and cinnamon sticks, crush or break them to release their aroma.
How do you store herbs and spices?
Air, light, moisture and heat speed the flavor and color loss of herbs and spices. Store in a tightly covered container and in a dark, dry place away from sunlight. Remove from container with a dry spoon and avoid sprinkling directly from container into a steaming pot to prevent steam moisture from entering the container. Refrigerate paprika, chili powder and red pepper for best color retention, especially in summer.
Now that you are “well-seasoned” in the use of herbs and spices, try this spice blend to help bring out the natural flavor of some of your favorite vegetables.
4 Tbsps. mustard powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsps. onion powder
2 Tbsps. white pepper
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. basil
4 Tbsps. paprika
Combine spices and blend well. Put a small amount of uncooked rice in the bottom of each shaker to allow spice to blend and flow easily. Fill shakers with spice blend, cover and label. Happy seasoning!