Spices and herbs may be small in size but they are mighty when it comes to adding flavor and antioxidants to your favorite dish. I’ve found the easiest way to take a simple cooking technique like roasting vegetables to the next level is to have the right spice blend. What could be easier than a three ingredient dish like olive oil + spice blend + favorite vegetable?
Here are a few tips to consider about spices and herbs:
#1. They don’t expire like other foods but do have a ‘best-by’ date.
Sure, they don’t exactly get moldy like a slice of bread does but I’m sure that a few of us keep some spices and herbs around a little too long and they can lose color and flavor.
If you can’t find a best-by date on the label there are a few good rules of thumb to follow regarding shelf life from the McCormick spice company :
- Herbs: 1-3 years
- Whole Spices: 3-4 years
- Ground Spices: 2-3 years
- Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
Don’t forget to the look, smell and taste rule.
Look at the color. If the color has faded so has the flavor.
Smell and Taste the Herb/Spice. If you can’t detect a fresh odor and there is minimal taste than it is likely time to purchase something new.
#2. Freezing doesn’t extend shelf life.
Storing your spices in the freezer isn’t recommended and doesn’t extend shelf-life not to mention, the container is at risk for developing condensation and introducing moisture in the mix.
#3. Don’t Sprinkle Over a Steaming Pot
I’ve been guilty of doing this one, but according to McCormick, pouring dried spices and herbs from the bottle directly over a steaming pot introduces steam into the bottle which can hasten the loss of flavor and taste of the herb or spice used. Instead use the mise en place method and prep your ingredients ahead of time placing them in prep bowls, including all dried herbs and spices. At the very least, pour them into your hand and then sprinkle into pot.
Looking for some inspiration on what spices and herbs to add to your next dish?
Here are a few of my favorite low-sodium blends that will take your plain-jane dishes to the next level.
Literally, the prettiest seasoning I’ve come across with a mix of flower petals like corn flower and purple heather; herbs like rosemary, basil, marjoram; and fruits like juniper berries and rosehips and spices. It’s a unique blend that provides a pop of color and flavor to anything you put it on, my mom used this on a mix of roasted potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower this weekend and it was awesome.
McCormick’s Perfect Pinch® Southwest Sweet & Smoky Salt-Free Seasoning
This is probably my go-to salt-free seasoning when cooking and especially when roasting vegetables. It’s a blend of chipotle chile pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, smoked paprika and brown sugar. This tends to be a really good combination of both smoky and the slightly sweet. This weekend I roasted cabbage and covered the pieces in southwest seasoning which provided a nice touch of heat.
Chef Paul’s seasoning blends have been around since the 80’s but they have developed a new line of salt-free and sugar-free seasoning blends that add awesome flavor to any dish. Selections include Lemon & Cracked Pepper, Seven Herb, Six Spice, Sweet & Spicy and Toasted Onion & Garlic. They even make mini magic packets which are portable spice packets that you can add to food on-the-go while traveling.