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How To Use Herbs and Spices in Cooking

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Herbs make all the difference to our cooking. A selection of fresh herbs, such as parsley, bay or rosemary, picked straight from the garden, adds vitamins to a meal as well as giving flavour. All herbs and spices have very distinctive smells and flavours and also undergo subtle changes during the cooking process, so we need to understand about the best way to use them.
Potherbs (or salad herbs) such as watercress, sorrel, dandelion, rocket and chicory can be used in soups and stews as well as being added to salads.
Herbs add colour as well as flavour to soups and sauces made from pale ingredients, making them appear more appetising when flecked with chives or parsley.
Use the freshest of herbs as the aromatic components will evaporate very quickly. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends growing our own herbs, and buy spices whole, grinding them in small quantities as needed.
Add herbs towards the end of cooking to give the best flavour and retain a fresh green colour. Garlic, spices and tougher herbs should be added at the beginning of cooking to give their flavours a change to permeate the ingredients.
Add herbs or spices to vinegars, oils and mustard to give a subtle flavour to garnishes, dressings and marinades. Prepare a quantity in advance to allow flavours to permeate - bottles of vinegar or oil with a sprig of herb (i.e. rosemary or lavender) added will keep up to a year.
Many potherbs added to salads also contain valuable vitamins, while watercress has high levels of iron, essential in a healthy diet.
You don’t have to have a garden to grow herbs. A year’s supply can be grown in all sorts of containers in limited spaces – see How To Grow Herbs on the Kitchen Window Sill and How To Grow Herbs in Containers.


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