Complete Guide to Cooking with Herbs and Spices

Introduction

When you begin cooking without salt, at first it may seem a little intimidating. Some people have become habitual salters, adding the mineral without tasting the food first, or worse yet, adding it simply because it is what they have always done.

Herbs and spices are perfect for boosting your food’s flavor and giving you a better experience on your low sodium diet. When you use fresh spices, this sensation is even better than if you would have used something from the grocery store, as these spices are usually not the freshest.

Quick Tips to Cooking with Herbs and Spices

  • Use whole herbs & spices when possible using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind up spices right before use.
  • Purchase powdered spices in small amounts. When they sit on the shelf for years they lose their flavor.
  • Use no more than ¼ teaspoon of dried spice (¾ of fresh) per pound of meat.
  • Combine herbs with oil or butter, set for 30 minutes to bring out their flavor, then brush on foods while they cook, or brush meat with oil and sprinkle herbs one hour before cooking.
  • Crush dried herbs before adding to foods.

Developing Flavor with Herbs and Spices

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to get the most out of your herbs and spices is to use fresh, whole ingredients whenever possible.

Dry roasting and grinding whole spices

Click on each image to enlarge

1. Pick a spice.
coriander seeds

Start with whole spices like the coriander seeds you see above.

2: Dry roasting.
roasting coriander seeds

Put whole spices in a pan and turn the heat on low, occasionally stirring making sure not to burn them. Once the spices become lightly browned, remove from heat and cool for 2-3 minutes.

3. Spice grinder.
electronic spice grinder

Setup the spice grinder. If you don’t have one I highly recommend getting one. One of the most important tools when it comes to working with spices is an electronic spice grinder. Sometimes called a coffee grinder, this tool is essential for developing flavor with spices.

4. Put spices in grinder.
coriander seeds in grinder

Place your whole spices into the spice grinder. Above you will see I’ve placed some coriander seeds into my spice grinder.

5. Grind spices.
coriander seeds powder in grinder

Grind your whole spices until a desired consistency. Above you will see my new coriander powder.

6. Freshly ground spices.
fresh ground coriander powder

Freshly ground, roasted coriander powder.

Herbs and Spices Pairing and Combinations Guide

Please refer to the Herbs & Spices Food Pairing Guide