Herbs and Spices:
Store spices in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause
herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Although the most
convenient place for your spice rack may be above your stove, moving
your spices to a different location may keep them fresh longer.
As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their best flavors
for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. Proper storage should
result in longer freshness times.
When possible, grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle just
prior to using. Toasting whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat
before grinding will bring out even more flavor. Be careful not to burn.
Because the refrigerator is a rather humid environment, storing herbs
and spices there is not recommended. To keep larger quantities of spices
fresh, store them in the freezer in tightly sealed containers.
Use a light hand when seasoning with spices and herbs. Your goal is to
compliment your dish without crowding out the flavor of the food.
Remember, it's usually impossible to "un-spice" a dish!
For long-cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before
serving. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavors.
Finely crush dried herbs before adding to your dish after measuring.
Do not use dried herbs in the same quantity as fresh. In most cases,
use 1/3 the amount in dried as is called for fresh.
Keep it simple. Unless the recipe specifically calls for it, don't use
more than 3 herbs and spices in any one dish. The exception to this rule
is Indian cooking, which often calls for 10 or more different spices in
one curry dish!
Black pepper, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper are excellent
"after cooking" seasonings. Allow guests to season dishes with these
spices at the table.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice have a special affinity for
If you're feeling adventuresome, try replacing herbs and spices called
for in recipes with something different! Marjoram instead of oregano,
savory instead of thyme, cilantro instead of parsley,
anise seed instead of fennel, etc.