Using Herbs and Spices

Most meats may be seasoned before, during or after cooking. Steaks and chops can be marinated and seasoned either before or after cooking. To get the most flavor from roasted meat or poultry, rub its surface with seasoning before cooking. Poultry absorbs flavors better if the seasoning is rubbed directly into the flesh, rather than the skin.

Soups and stews develop their best flavors when the herbs and spices are added during cooking. If they are long-cooking soups or stews, wait until the last 30 minutes to add the seasonings because prolonged cooking in liquid can dissipate the flavor. The same is true for sauces.

For reduction of salt intake, substitute strong, flavorful spices such as black pepper, curry, cumin, basil, oregano, onion and garlic.

To develop the flavor of dried herbs, soak them for several minutes in a liquid that can be used in the recipe.

To release the flavor of dried herbs, crumble them before adding to the dish.

When using herbs and spices in salad dressing, allow the flavor of the combination to develop by soaking for at least 15 minutes.

For steamed or boiled vegetables, add the herbs or spices to melted butter and allow to stand for 10 minutes before seasoning the vegetables.

To intensify the flavors of whole spices, toast then briefly in a dry heavy skillet.

Dried and fresh herbs may be interchanged in most recipes. Use three to five times more fresh herbs than dried, depending on the strength of the herb.

Exact measurements are difficult to recommend as personal tastes differ so much. It is often a good idea to sample an herb before you season an entire dish with it. Take a small amount of the dish you are preparing, and season it proportionally. If this is not possible, mix a bit of the herb or spice with some cottage cheese or some melted butter. Let it stand at room temperature for three minutes or so before tasting.

In Case You Overseason

Because many herbs and spices are quite powerful, it is best to add them with restraint. If you find you have overdone it, try one of the following remedies:
Strain as much of the herbs and spices as possible out of the dish
Add a peeled, whole raw potato to the dish to absorb some of the flavor. Remove the potato just before serving.
If possible, add more of the blander ingredients, or make a second batch of the recipe and combine with the over seasoned one.
Serve the dish chilled to blunt the taste of over seasoning