Did you know that 90 percent of a meal’s flavor comes from the herbs and spices you use? Whether you are hosting a dinner party or maybe just experimenting with a new, fun recipe, here’s a quick reminder to help make sure your meal’s memorable (for all the right reasons).
With so much riding on these ingredients, how do you make sure your spices and herbs taste great? Here are some tips.
- Purchase a Brand You Trust: Unlike the fruits and vegetables you can grow in your yard or discover at a farmers market, most spices come from their native lands around the globe. So for a consistent flavor, it’s critical to purchase these key ingredients from a source or brand you trust.
- Look for spices sold in sealed containers instead of Bulk Bins: Herbs and spices sold in jars and sealed containers deliver a more consistent quality and flavor. Spices in bulk bins can sit for long periods of time and their source of origin is often unclear. With bulk bins you have to rely on store employees to refresh and properly handle the products. For the sake of flavor, reach for a container.
- Inspect Prior to Purchase: When you pick up a jar of herbs or spices at the store, inspect the product thoroughly. Check the seals to make sure they’re intact to guarantee freshness. Packaging plays a key role in ensuring great flavor, so purchase products with tight-fitting, re-sealable lids. For ground products, look for a consistency in both color and in the size of the pieces.
- Store Properly: At home, be sure to store your herbs and spices properly in a cool, dark place – before and after use. It might seem convenient to keep them next to the stove or on your windowsill but don’t! Heat and direct sunlight can speed up discoloration and flavor loss. Keep moisture out by using properly sealing packaging and avoid keeping products near the sink or dishwasher. Some spices like paprika and chili powder might benefit from refrigeration, helping them to retain color, freshness and flavor.
- Replace When Appropriate:
Check expiration dates as well as the color of the spices and herbs to ensure freshness. Typically, ground herbs and spices maintain their flavor for two years while whole products retain their flavor for three-four years. If your ground spices change colors (they look lighter), your herbs turn to a lighter green or you can’t remember when you bought it – replace it.