They take bland food and turn it into a culinary feast. If you learn about the different kinds of herbs your family likes, you will look like a culinary genius when you use them.
Being the ultimate opportunist, I am always on the lookout for bargains with those fresh fancy herbs you find in the grocery store these days. Fresh herbs are always far more expensive than I can afford to buy. But once in a while, they are marked down. That’s when I strike! If I can get them for half price or less, I snap them up, take them home, and toss them into the dehydrator… except for what I will use in the next day or two.
A few years ago I found quite a sale at the grocery store, so I bought many bottles of spice seeds. These are stored in a kitty litter bucket. They are kept safe, clean, dry, and dark.
Many herbs can be grown on a window ledge at home. They can even be grown in a patch of your flower garden! Growing your own assures quality control and helps provide and economical source of taste.
A few pointers:
- Herbs are green leaves, stems and blossoms of certain plants that enhance flavors.
- Spices are the seeds, roots and barks of certain plants that enhance flavors.
- Most herbs and spices only have about a year’s shelf life. As they grow older, the flavor lessens. It doesn’t spoil in the sense that it becomes a health hazard. It simply means that you need to use more in order to get the same effect.
- Store your herbs and spices in a dark area. Exposure to light tends to deteriorate them faster. Those fancy little bottles may look pretty, but if you can see the herb, it’s losing potency.
- Keeping your spices in their original form increases their life. I never buy ground or powdered spices. I always store the whole seeds and grind them as needed.