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Indian Herbs, Spices and Ingredients...


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Tips for Storing and Using Spices and Herbs

Tips for Storing Spices

  • Store spices in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Although the most convenient place for your spice rack may be above your stove, moving your spices to a different location may keep them fresh longer.
  • As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their best flavors for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. Proper storage should result in longer freshness times. 
  • When possible, grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle just prior to using. Toasting or Dry roasting whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat before grinding will bring out even more flavor. 
  • Because the refrigerator is a rather humid environment, storing herbs and spices there is not recommended. To keep larger quantities of spices fresh, store them in the freezer in tightly sealed containers.

Shelf Life: 

  • Whole spices----2 to 5 years

  • Ground spices---6 months to 2 years

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Tips for Using Spices

Seasoning food is an art, not a science. Experimenting with herbs and spices can be fun and educational, and while you may occasionally be eating a less than perfect dish, you may also end up creating that recipe that will become a classic in your household.

  • Use a light hand when seasoning with spices and herbs. Your goal is to compliment your dish without crowding out the flavor of the food. Remember, it's usually impossible to "un-spice" a dish!
  • For long-cooking dishes, add herbs and spices an hour or less before serving. Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavors.
  • Use restraint and good judgment !
  • Finely crush dried herbs before adding to your dish…after measuring. Do not use dried herbs in the same quantity as fresh. In most cases, use 1/3 to ¼ the amount in dried as is called for fresh.
  • Experiment! Make the recipe by altering the amount of spice added according to your taste.
  • Although spice blends are readily available in many Indian Grocery stores, many cookbooks have recipes for curry powder and other masalas.  Blend just enough for a few weeks and store your blends in a tightly sealed container.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom have a special affinity for sweet dishes in Indian cuisine.
  • Cilantro is the most widely used garnish in Indian cooking. When using it to garnish a recipe, chop it finely and garnish the recipe just before serving.

Back to Glossary of Spices




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