HERBS & SPICES – GENERAL
In the UK they pronounce the “H” in Herbs.
In America, the “H” is dropped and they say “Erbs”
SPICES are obtained from the bark, root, fruit bud or berry of a perennial, usually tropical plant. (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves)
HERBS are leaves of low-growing plants (basil, parsley oregano).
An herb or spice is fresh if the odor is strong when you open the jar. If you have to sniff out the aroma, or taste the spice more than once, it is too stale to use. Except in exceptional cases, only one herb should be used at a time, two at the most.
Spices do not retain their full flavor for more than 6 mos. Keep them in tightly sealed containers. The worst enemies of spices are moisture and heat. So don’t store over the sink or stove!
1 T fresh herbs = 1 t dried herbs
1/8 t garlic powder = 1 clove garlic
FREEZING HERBS: Herbs can be frozen, but the process depends upon the herb, and what you’ll be doing with it after it’s frozen. Tough-stemmed herbs like basil, tarragon and sage should have their leaves removed prior to freezing. Just pack the clean leaves into plastic baggies or into freezer containers and place them in the freezer. Freeze in the size portions you think you’ll need.
Other herbs, like dill or parsley freeze well if they’re separated into sprigs and frozen individually, then packed into one large container. You can also freeze chopped herbs in ice cube trays. Place a teaspoon of herb in each section, then fill with water. Once they’re frozen, the herb cubes can be removed and stored in plastic freezer bags in the freezer. They’re great for popping into winter soups!
DILL – Two kinds:
Dillseed-powdered or whole dill-seed
Dillweed-dried dill leaves.
Use on potato salad; add pinch to sour cream; beef stroganoff; pasta salad
ROSEMARY: Use 1 t dried rosemary in fried chicken.
Use ½ to 1t dried leaves or 1-2 t chopped fresh rosemary in Roast Beef.
SAVORY: Savory’s bold flavor works well in omelets, soups, succotash, sauerkraut, meatloaf and stuffing. An excellent vegetable herb, enhance stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, peas, corn, Brussels sprouts and cabbage dishes. Nicknamed the bean herb, its robust flavor brings out the best in all types of beans.
Loving seafood, add its spark to chilled poached fish blended with mayonnaise, a splash of lemon juice and chopped chives. Chop summer savory; sprinkle on casseroles and hot dishes. Summer savory adds zip to mixed green salads and potato salad. Use whole leaves as garnish. Winter savory likes to add its zing to meat dishes and hearty bean stews.
To store, wrap in damp paper towel; place in a zip lock bag; refrigerate three to four days.
1/8 t garlic powder = 1 clove
1/2 t minced garlic = 1 clove minced
Store in dark covered place with good ventilation. A ceramic container to store garlic are sold at kitchen stores. Fresh uncooked garlic is more pungent when pureed, crushed, chopped or minced. For a milder garlic flavor, keep cloves whole or cut into large pieces.
The flavor of garlic grows more delicate the longer it cooks (less strong). For pungent garlic flavor, add the garlic freshly minced, to soups, stews, salads or other dishes during the last few minutes of preparation.
To remove garlic odor from hands. Rub hands with salt or lemon juice and rinse under cold water. Then wash with soap.
TWO KINDS OF GARLIC: Hardnecks and Softnecks
Spanish Roja rated #1 at taste test – hardneck – very easy to peel. Squeeze
California Early and CA Late – Softneck most easily found.
Softnecks may be stored 10-12 months
Hardnecks show deterioration 4-6 months after harvested.
GARLIC – ROASTED in the MICROWAVE
1 head garlic 2 heads 3 heads
¼ c chick broth ¼ c ½ c
1T olive oil 2T 3T
Trim garlic head to expose cloves. Use a 2-cup measure for one head.
Add chicken broth and oil.
Cover tightly with microwavable plastic wrap and at 100% power:
FOR 1 HEAD: micro for 4 min. Let stand 5 min.
FOR 2 HEADS: micro for 5 min. Let stand for 5-10 min.
FOR 3 HEADS: micro for 6-8 min. Let stand 10 min.
GARLIC – ROASTED in the OVEN
Trim top of garlic head/bulb, exposing tips of all cloves.
Place pointed tip end up, in an oven proof container.
Sprinkle with olive oil.
Light salting will help emphasize the sweetness.
Depending on size of head, bake at 375° oven for about an hour, COVERED.
If roasted UNCOVERED, the creamy pulp is slightly drier.
Can roast in foil packet.
When garlic is cool enough to touch, tear off cloves and squeeze garlic out onto bread or unflavored crackers or a moderately firm cheese
Any variety of garlic can be roasted, though the large heads and cloves are easier to manage.
Refrigerate unused portions to use the next day or use in soups, sauces or stews.
Roasting garlic removes the sulphur, making it much milder and sweeter.
GARLIC BUTTER (GARLIC BUTTER SPREAD)
Roast 1 whole bulb of garlic (See above for how to roast garlic)
Mash with fork
1 small tub “I can’t believe it’s not butter”
1/4 t salt
2T dried parsley.
Return to seasoned butter carton to store.
Will keep 6 weeks or so in refrigerator.
Spread on sliced bread.
Sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese, if desired.
Broil til toasted. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
FRESH GINGER: When selecting fresh ginger, look for a firm, irregular, knobby shape, with no soft spots. Rhizomes should be hard, unwrinkled, plump and heavy. It has a pale tan skin stretched tautly around the yellow flesh, which should be crisp and not fibrous. Easily stored in frig up to 2 weeks and in freezer for up to 2 mos.
It is grated, chopped, sliced or shredded for cooking fish, seafood meat and poultry because it neutralizes fishy and meaty smells.
Ginger and garlic are natural partners. Combines well with basil, chili, cilantro, coconut, fish sauce, garlic, lime, lemon, mint, scallions, soy sauce, tamarind, tumeric.
DRIED GINGER stored in a tight fitting container will keep 2 years or more.
Excellent flavoring for carrots, winter squashes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes.HORSERADISH NOTES:
Fresh roots will keep 2-3 weeks in a plastic bag in the frig, even after being cut and partly used.
Slicing a horseradish root reveals white flesh. Grating releases its highly pungent oil, but this dissipates very quickly and does not survive cooking. Sprinkle with lemon juice to preserve its white color and pungency.
SAUCE: Make into a sauce by blending it with cream and vinegar; or with sour cream alone, with or without sugar.
BOUQUET GARNI (French for “garnished bouquet”)
A Bouquet Garni of herbs/spices is used to season stew, broth or soup.
Three standard ingredients include: parsley, thyme and bay leaves.
Basil, chervil, chives, savory and other herbs may be added–NOT tarragon.
Tie the herbs in a small piece of cheesecloth and remove from stock before serving. Remove from broth before serving.
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley
1-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf.
4” piece celery stalk with leaves-optional
(2) 4” pieces green part of leek-optional
Place all ingredients on piece of leek. Cover w/piece of leek. Tie securely w/string
Good to leave long piece of string & attach to pan handle to be easily retrieved.
¼ c dried parsley (classic ingredient)
2 T dried thyme (classic ingredient)
2 T dried bay leaf (classic ingredient) (4 bay leaves)
2 T dried rosemary (optional ingredient)
2 T dried marjoram (optional ingredient)
few peppercorns (optional)
Store in tight container. Makes about 6 Bouquet Garni
DRIED VERSION – makes (1) Bouquet Garni
1 T dried parsley
1-1/2 t dried thyme
1-2 crumbled dry bay leaves
Crush herbs/spices together. Place in bag, etc.
OPTIONAL: garlic, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, chervil, celery seed
BASIL – FREEZING FRESH BASIL – Chess likes: Cinnamon Basil
After harvesting basil, trim plants back 2-3” tall. Plant produces more leaves when its vigorously trimmed a few times each yr. Everywhere the stem is cut, will produce 2 new stems. Just be sure to keep a few leaves on each stem.
Pinch off basil leaves and discard stems
Wash very well in salad spinner. Get as dry as possible.
Put a few handfuls in the food processor, using steel blade.
Bowl should be full, but not rightly packed.
Pulse with one hand and drizzle olive oil into feed tube with the other hand.
Pulse til basil is coarsely chopped. Make sure all basil is coated with oil, which keeps it from going dark in the freezer.
Rule of thumb: 2-3 T olive oil for each batch in food processor.
Freeze in ice cube trays or use tiny plastic containers with tight lids. Be sure you know how much the container holds for when you use it in a recipe!
Use in pesto, pasta, soup, stew, etc
BASIL – How to Freeze fresh basil (use later for pesto)
Trim leaves off plants. Will produce more leaves if trimmed vigorously a few times a yr, keeping a few leaves on each stem.
Pinch off the basil leaves, discard stems and wash very well in salad spinner. Or with paper towels. Get as dry as you possibly can.
Fill food processor (using steel blade) with basil, but do not pack.
Pulse food processor with one hand and drizzle olive oil into the feed tube with the other hand, pulsing JUST til the basil is coarsely chopped. Make sure all basil is coated with oil, which keeps it from going dark in freezer. 2-3 T oil for each bath.
Freeze in ice cube tray or small freezer containers with tight lids.
TRICK: Measure size of container before using so you will know how much it contains.
(Updated – July 2008) When I wrote a quick little post about how to freeze fresh basil more than two years ago for Weekend Herb Blogging, I didn’t realize it would turn into one of the most popular posts ever on Kalyn’s Kitchen! I’m still growing and freezing fresh basil every summer and I decided it’s time to update this with better photos and more complete instructions. I’m also adding ideas for using frozen basil after the photos.
If you’re a gardener who’s growing basil, here are my step-by-step instructions on how you can freeze your basil to use all through the winter.
I do this several times each summer, whenever I have some basil that needs to be harvested. Here’s how my basil looked before I trimmed the plants and pulled off the big leaves.
Here’s my basil after I trimmed it. Basil will actually produce more leaves if it’s vigorously trimmed a few times each year, since everywhere you cut the stem it produces two new stems. Just be sure to keep a few leaves on each stem (remember high school botany, that’s where the plant gets food.)
I pinch off all the basil leaves, discard the stems, and wash the leaves very well in a salad spinner. Spin them as dry as you possibly can. If you don’t have a salad spinner, just wash your basil leaves in the sink and dry them well with paper towels.
Put a few of handfuls of basil into the food processor, using the steel blade. The food processor bowl should be full, but not tightly packed.
I pulse the food processor with one hand and drizzle olive oil into the feed tube with the other hand, just pulsing until the basil is coarsely chopped. You should make sure that all the basil is coated with oil too, which keeps it from going dark in the freezer. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for each batch in the food processor when I’m making coarsely chopped basil like this to use for pasta sauce, soup, or stew during the winter. When I’m making basil puree to add to basil vinaigrette I use more oil and chop the basil much more finely.
I have two sizes of these little plastic containers with tight lids that I use to freeze the basil. It doesn’t matter what size container you use, but a good trick is to measure the containers before you first use them. That way, when you pull one out of the freezer for a recipe, you’ll know how much it is.
OLIVE OIL – How to Buy and Use
FINEST OILS: After first pressing, oil is filtered and packaged. Labled Virgin.
INFERIOR OILS: Produced by further pressings of the remaining pits and flesh. 2nd and 3rd pressings are used in blends with other oils or marketed as 100% Olive Oil.
Store Olive Oil in cool, dark spot—NOT in the refrigerator.
Unopened oil keeps for up to a year. Once opened, can go rancid in hot weather.
Color: Look for green to green-gold to gold color
Look for Label stating “first pressing”
MUSHROOM EQUIVALENTS (which are neither a fruit nor Veggie)
1 lb fresh mushrooms = a 6-8 oz can of mushrooms
½ lb fresh mushrooms = a 3-4 oz can of mushrooms
1 qt mushroom caps = 20-24 medium size fresh mushrooms = a 6-8 oz can mushrooms
1 pt mushroom caps = 10-12 medium size fresh mushrooms = a 3-4 oz can mushrooms
CAJUN SPICE MIX & FAJITA SEASONING
Fajita Seasoning has NO cayenne or chili powder
Cajun seasoning usually contains: Salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika. Some have dried basil, dried thyme, oregano
1-1/2 t salt
1 t cayenne pepper – omit for Fajita seasoning
1 t ground black pepper
1 t ground white pepper
3 t paprika
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t chili powder – omit for Fajita Seasoning