When your pantry is packed with a variety of herbs and spices, you’re always ready to make a flavorful meal or experiment in the kitchen. All spices and herbs are technically seasoning, but food experts use the label seasoning for certain flavorings that are added after a meal has been cooked. As we know some seasoning such a salt and sugar can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity so try to use them in moderation and opt for the healthier options when you can.
There are three categories of herbs, The Culinary herbs that enhance the taste of the dishes; the Medicinal herbs that are used to cure illness and prevent disease; and the Aromatic herbs that have the soothing, pleasurable scents and used in perfumes.
Herbs like spices are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food. Culinary herbs can come in two different forms. They can be in their natural state which is straight from the garden or bought in store, however once they are removed from the main plant they have a life expectancy of around one week if they are refrigerated. Then there is dried herbs, this form of herb is a much more concentrated than if it is fresh, these herbs can be kept anywhere from 6–12 months in a cool dark place.
Classic Culinary herbs are: Basil, Bay leaf, Borage, Capers, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Curry Leaves, Dandelion, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Hibiscus, Hops, Lemongrass, Licorice, Lovage, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Peppermint, Rosemary, Safflower, Sage, Salad Burnet, Sorrel, Spearmint, Summer Savory, Tarragon, Tea, Thyme, Watercress & Winter Savory.
Making your own dried Herbs
It is easy to dry herbs at home, Home dried herbs are more fragrant and colorful compare to the commercial ones. The best way to dry your herbs is to dry them on the brach by spreading them on a metal tray lined with parchment paper and leave to dry at room temperature.
True the stems after few days so the herbs will dry evenly. Alternatively, you can create a bundle of herbs by tying the stems together and hang to air-dry indoors.
in humid climates, use an electric dehydrator to dye the herbs which will take somewhere between 1 to 3 hours. The herbs are considered fully dried when the leaves are crumble easily.
Spices are available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or pre-ground dried.
The shelf life of a whole dry spice is roughly two years; of a ground spice roughly six months. So It is the best to purchase spices in whole and grinding them when needed. Also it is better to store any spices away from the light. The classic tool used to grind a whole spice is mortar and pestle, but nowadays there are Less labor-intensive tools available in the market such as grinders and graters. I use mortar as I like to keep it simple.
There are various ways to categorize spices, but I like to categorize them in two simple group: Sweet spices and Savory spices.
Sweet spices are: All Spice, Aniseed, Cacao, Cardamom, Carob, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg, Poppy Seed, Sesame Seed, Star Anise & Vanilla.
Savory spices are: Black Pepper, Caraway Seed, Cayenne, Celery Seed, Coriander, Cumin, Grains of Paradise, Juniper Berry, Paprika, Saffron, Sumac & Turmeric.
Top Spice producing countries
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Persia, Turkey, Nepal, China, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Colombia.
Here are the most commonly used herbs and spices in my kitchen:
Herbs: Basil, Bay leaf, Chives, Capers, Coriander, Curry leaf, Dill, Fennel, Lemongrass, Oregano, Parsley, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.
Spices: All Spice, Cacao, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg, Sesame Seed, Star Anise, Vanilla. Black Pepper, Caraway Seed, Cayenne, Celery Seed, Coriander, Cumin, Paprika, Saffron, Sumac & Turmeric.