How to use spices and herbs in your scratch cooking
Turmeric, curry, and hot peppers are the hallmark of Indian cooking. Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme signal our tastebuds for French and English cuisine. Garlic, oregano, and basil remind us of Greek and Italian dishes. Add some flavourful cheese and aromatic sauces and you have an ethnic cuisine on the table in minutes. Spices and herbs are the hallmark of flavourful scratch cooking.
Be sure to have you family’s favorite spices on hand at all times. Buy them in bulk from a store that has a strong turn over to ensure that your herbs and spices are always fresh. Store in glass mason jars in your freezer, and refill smaller spice bottles that you keep near your cooking area for handy use. This is the most economical way to purchase spices. Plastics do not preserve the antioxidants in spices as well as glass. Plastic breaths and is reactive, whereas glass is stable and air tight.
Don’t just buy a spice cabinet full of spices in little spice bottles because everyone else does. Instead focus on the flavours and herbs that your family loves and that you use all the time and buy them in bulk. Store them well and they will last for a year or two without loss of flavour or antioxidants.
If you can grow some of your own spices and herbs you are ahead of the game because your own homegrown spices will always be more flavourful than what you can purchase in the store. Think of thyme, garlic, oregano, basil, chives, onions, ginger, mint, hot peppers, and coriander as a good starting place.
Here’s my signature chart to get you comfortable mixing and matching different flavours in your own kitchen. Always choose from the things you already have onhand using the Pantry Method of Menu Planning.
Print this chart and put it on your fridge to be a handy reference for your own menu planning to keep your menus fresh and appetizing.