Showing posts with label kitchen organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen organization. Show all posts

Monday, February 29, 2016

Do You Know Your Spices And Herbs

I never have given a lot of thought to this question. But, now that I have tossed out almost everything in my spice drawer I am learning a few facts (thoughts) about the subject from various websites. 
Spice or Herb?

Herbs and spices. We often say these words together: “flavored with herbs and spices.” But what’s the difference between them? Both are seasonings, of course. But of the two, spices are generally stronger smelling and often stronger tasting. Spices typically come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, or stems of plants and trees; while herbs are the more gently fragrant leaves of plants. 

That is new info for me or I don't remember. I did not realize that the herbs are the leaves. 

Cooking with Herbs

When do you add herbs and spices? It depends on the kind of herb or spice you’re dealing with and the cooking time the recipe calls for. Herbs with mild flavors, like basil and parsley, work best when added right at the end, while strong-flavored herbs like bay leaves and sage work fine over the length of the cooking.
Compared to whole spices, the flavor of ground spices is more concentrated; ground spices will infuse sauces with flavor more quickly than whole spices. If you have a short cooking time, add ground spices at the start. If your recipe calls for a slow simmer, it’s okay to add them near the end of cooking. Long-simmering stews and soups are also great for whole spices, whose flavors will release at a leisurely pace.

Before adding leafy herbs to a dish, place them in the palm of your hand and rub them gently with your fingertips to help release flavors and aromas. Toasting seeds and certain spices (like cumin) in a dry skillet can also enhance flavors and aromas.
I am including the following information from  as "Food For Thought". This is something else that I have not given a lot of thought. However, it does not surprise me.

Conventional Spices Contain Harmful Ingredients

There are many reasons for adding spices to food, including enhancing flavor, boosting nutritional value, and also preserving freshness.  Unfortunately, when we buy conventional spices, they often contain more negative qualities than positive. Like conventional food found in supermarkets, many of the spices we find on the shelves are treated with chemicals, contain GMO's
and are irradiated. Virtually all conventional spices sold in the United States are fumigated (sterilized) with hazardous chemicals that are banned in Europe.

What is Irradiation?
Food irradiation is the process of using radiation to kill bacteria and other contaminants. But while radiation is used to reduce bacteria in the spices we are consuming, the finished product has decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!

How To Buy Spices Safely

With that said, it’s extremely important to fill our pantries with spices that promote health, rather than take away from it.  Below are strategies for buying spices to make flavorful dishes, promote health and limit your exposure to hidden toxins.
  1. Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents. 
  2. Buy spices from the bulk bin to get the most bang for your buck. Buying a large amount ensures the spices will be used in an appropriate amount of time. 
  3. Check the expiration date. Spices, unlike wine, do not get better with age. Make sure you clean out your pantry often to avoid using expired spices. With age, spices lose their powerful benefits.
  4. Replace conventional spices as soon as possible. If your spice cabinet is full of conventional spices, start to buy organic spices for each new recipe you make week after week, eventually you’ll have a whole new assortment of organic spices to choose from.

    Interesting, and like I say, not surprising. That said, this is all fine and good but not all of us have the luxury to buy according to these guidelines. Like most things we simply have to make a chose and do what we thing works for each of our situations.

    Yesterday, when I was out and about I stopped into a little independent grocery store and I was delighted to find spices in small quantities (0.60 oz.) and very reasonably priced at $1.99 each. I purchased 12 spices and I am pleased especially since according to my research the company is reputable and has been around for years. In fact when I looked at my spices some of them are the same brand. 

    No, they are not organic but given the fact that I am three quarters of a century old, I see no reason to be concerned that they are not organic or about irradiation or GMO's.  I do not think my life span will be shortened! Additionally, I certainly do not cook as much or elaborate as once was my style. 

    Now let's go and cook something and use fresh spice.
    Have A Great Day.


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