October 22, 2011 When to Add Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can seem somewhat mysterious– what complements which foods and which seasonings highlight each other? When and how do you add them? One Bowl helps demystify them via a handy chart listing some common uses. Beyond matching the foods, though, the timing of seasoning can dramatically impact the flavor of the dish.
Here are a few rough guidelines:
1) Heat dried herbs and spices, in oil or fat, if possible. Many of the compounds that create the wonderful taste and scent of seasonings are soluble in oil, so it distributes the flavor evenly. Toasting them without fat also helps– it removes the “raw” flavor that many herbs and spices can have and intensifies different flavors.
2) Add dried herbs and spices toward the beginning of the cooking time to maximize the amount of the flavor released into the dish.
3) Add fresh herbs toward the end of the cooking time to maximize their fresh flavor.
4) Crush dried and fresh herbs before adding them to a dish to release the flavorful oils.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. When in doubt, start with these.