The Herb Stop Blog
Cooking With Herbs And Spices
I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine winter without the wonderful aromas of cinnamon, cloves and ginger to warm my body and soul. On the other hand, summer would not be “cool” without refreshing herbs such as peppermint, spearmint and hibiscus.
In my opinion, a life without savory herbs and exotic spices would indeed be dull. History tells us that these little bits of dried bark, buds, flowers, berries, seeds and roots have managed to provoke wars, build empires, inspire poetry, evoke mythologies, induce madness, anoint bodies, and work miracles. Herbs and spices have not just changed the flavors of our food; they’ve also changed the history of the world. Every spice you stir into your cooking carries tiny pieces of history.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why using herbs and spices in the kitchen can do far more than make meals taste better:
- According to Cornell University researchers, spicy cuisine developed not because of taste alone, but to rid foods of pathogens to prevent food poisoning. Herbs and spices contain strong antibiotic properties to kill bacteria that would otherwise contaminate our food. There is also a direct link between a country’s climate and the type and amount of spices being used. Food spoils faster in warmer climates, and spices inhibit that. Using a combination of herbs produces a greater antibiotic effect than herbs used alone. The most powerful antibiotic herbs are oregano, garlic, onion and allspice.
- Herbs and spices are concentrated foods. To greatly enhance the nutritional value of your foods include them into your daily meal preparations. They are loaded with easily absorbable vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients and medicinal properties.
- The health benefits of herbs and spices are numerous. They can enhance your digestion, increase blood circulation, elevate your moods, reduce cholesterol, help you loose weight, to name just a few.
- People who need to reduce their salt intake and are looking for ways to make their meals savory can find a variety of herbs and salt substitute herb blends.
Incorporating different herbs and spices into our daily meal preparations is fun and easy. The same dish fixed with a few different herbs/spices can take on a whole new meaning. For folks who prefer to eat fast-foods, why not sprinkle a little oregano on your pizza, chives on your French fries, or parsley, thyme and sage on that hamburger? Certain foods have an affinity for particular herbs and spices. To help you choose the right herbs and spices to flavor your meals I’ve prepared the following list:
- Apples – cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne.
- Berries – mint, anise, black and white pepper.
- Oranges – anise, peppermint, spearmint.
- Peaches – nutmeg, cloves.
- Pears – star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves.
Chicken, Fish, Meat
- Chicken – annatto, basil, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, paprika, rosemary, tarragon, savory.
- Fish – anise, asafetida, bay leaves, caraway, cayenne, celery seeds, chives, dill, fennel, fenugreek, galangal, lemongrass, lovage, mint, mustard, paprika, parsley, pomegranate, saffron, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, lemon thyme.
- Meat – bay leaves, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic, mustard, onion, oregano, rosemary, thyme.
- Lamb – cinnamon, cumin, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, mustard, rosemary, thyme.
Cheese, Eggs, Legumes
- Cheese – chives, fenugreek, nutmeg, oregano, red pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme, lemon thyme, savory.
- Eggs – chives, parsley, tarragon, savory.
- Legumes – basil, cloves, cumin, garlic, onion, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory.
- Artichoke – bay leaves, garlic, parsley, oregano, paprika, thyme.
- Beet – basil, dill, lemon verbena, lemon balm, mint.
- Broccoli – red pepper, savory, turmeric.
- Cabbage – caraway seeds, juniper berries.
- Carrots – allspice, celery seeds, lovage, cumin, dill, ginger, garlic, marjoram, onion, mint, star anise.
- Cauliflower – chives, coriander, sage, turmeric.
- Corn – black pepper, cayenne, cumin, tarragon.
- Cucumber – chives, dill, garlic, ginger, mint.
- Eggplant – basil, cumin, garlic, pomegranate, sumac.
- Green beans – chili pepper, dill, garlic, ginger, onion, savory.
- Pea – coriander, lovage, mint, oregano, pepper, tarragon, turmeric.
- Potato – caraway seeds, chives, dill, garlic, paprika, onion, parsley, thyme, turmeric.
- Spinach – cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, dill, fennel, garam masala, ginger, nutmeg, onion, tarragon.
- Tomato – basil, bay, cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, marjoram, oregano, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, turmeric, thyme.
- Winter squash – cinnamon, cloves, star anise.
- Yams – allspice, ginger, saffron.
- Zucchini – celery seeds, dill.
Experiment with new herbs/spices, explore new cuisines and expand your horizons. Start by adding small amounts of herbs/spices, because an over seasoned dish can hardly be salvaged. There is an extra benefit when cooking with new flavors; they fill your home with new aromas!
Written by Leilah