SPICE FACTS

HOW TO STORE SPICES

The shelf life of each herb and spice is different, and even under the best circumstances all will age. Check your herbs and spices regularly, especially the ones you don't use often, see that they still look fresh, not faded, and are distinctly aromatic. And check the spices you want to buy before buying!
 
The form in which you store a spice or herb also has a definite influence on its longevity — those that have been cut or powdered have more surface area exposed to the air and so lose their flavour more rapidly than whole herbs and spices.
 
Over time, unfortunately, all spices and herbs will lose their colour, taste and aroma. To preserve flavour and colour for as long as possible, store spices and herbs in a cool, dry place.
 
Try to limit exposure to bright light, heat, moisture or oxygen.
 
Dampness can cause caking or clumping of ground spices. If possible, do not store too close to the stove, oven, dishwasher or refrigerator, where rising steam or heat can come into contact with them.
 
We suggest the following as good practice: place your spices and herbs in resealable plastic bags, squeeze out as much air as possible, then store in airtight containers (glass jars, plastic containers, tins, etc). This will protect against moisture, and will also preserve the oils that give spices their flavour and aroma.
 
Red-coloured spices, such as paprika, chilli powder and cayenne pepper can be refrigerated at a temperature below 20º Celsius to prevent loss of colour and flavour. (If you do store spice in the refrigerator, remember to return them promptly after use — temperature fluctuations can cause condensation, and eventually mold.)
 
 
Some general guidelines for the shelf life of herbs and spices, if they are stored properly:
 
Whole Spices and Herbs:
Leaves and flowers: up to 1 year
Seeds and barks: more than 2 years
Roots: more than 2 years
 
Ground Spices and Herbs:
Leaves and flowers: up to 6 months
Seeds and barks: up to 6 months
Roots: up to 1 year
 
 

HOW MUCH HERBS/SPICES TO ADD TO FOOD

Use herbs and spices sparingly — they are supposed to enhance and accent the other flavours of your dish, not dominate them.
 
Oils are concentrated in the drying process for herbs, so you will use about half the quantity of dry herbs compared to fresh. Crumble dry herbs in your hand before adding them to your dish, to release more flavour.
 
Rather be cautious at first: for a dish that serves four to six, start with
· 1/2 teaspoon powdered spices/herbs,
· 1 1/2 teaspoon dried or chopped spices/herbs, or
· 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs/spices.
 

WHEN TO ADD HERBS/SPICES TO FOOD

Add whole spices early during cooking to allow their flavours to permeate the food.
 
Ground or cut herbs and spices can be added midway or towards the end of your cooking time, so their flavours won’t dissipate.
 
For uncooked foods, such as fruits, juices, or salad dressings,add sherbs and spices several hours before serving to allow flavours to blend. (For salad dressings, add the spices to the vinegar and allow to stand before adding the oil.)
 
Remember that the intensity of flavour of red pepper or spice blends containing red pepper, will increase over time. First taste tests may often seem mild, but after an hour or two it will be a lot hotter!

HOW TO ADD SPICES/HERBS TO FOOD

You can add spices/herbs whole, chopped or ground.
 
If you add whole dried spices to your dish, tie them in cheese cloth or put in a metal tea strainer, for easy removal later — nobody likes to bite a whole pimento berry or a piece of ginger!
If possible, it is good to toast or dry roast whole spices before adding it to food. This process can accentuate the taste and aroma of spices such as coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
To toast: heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the spice(s) and toast 2 to 5 minutes or until spices are fragrant and lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat.
 
When chopping fresh herbs/spices, make sure the pieces are small enough to be eaten with the food.
 
You can grind whole spices in a small coffee grinder, small food processor, pepper grinder, or mortar and pestle.
(To clean your coffee grinder after use, add a small amount of uncooked rice and process.)
 

 

FOCUS ON
ROSEMARY & FRIENDS


 
Ingredients:
 
Chilli, rosemary, onion, garlic, coriander, mustard, salt
 
Description & Suggestions for Use:
 
Create memorable meat, poultry and seafood dishes, and take pasta and vegetables to a new level.
Revolutionise Sunday's oven roast lamb & vegetables.
Rub on pork ribs, mix with olive oil & lemon juice for basting or salad dressing.
Mix with olive oil and coat chicken pieces, then roast.
Dry rub on lamb chops, let lie for a while for the flavours to penetrate the meat, then braai or roast.
 

 



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