If you’d like to know about different herbs and when they are best used, here’s a blog for you: http://spicebag.blogspot.com/ .
Are there many herbs that you use that aren’t stored in the refrigerator or freezer? If not, then your herbs may not be as fresh as you think. Different herbs are best when used at different times. For example, ginger is best when used in the early spring or fall. Chives are best when used in the early spring. Spring onions are best when used in the late spring. Garlic is best when used in the late fall and wintertime.
Tarragon is best when used in the late spring to early summertime. Sage is best when used in the late summer and falltime. Parsley is best when used in the late summer and falltime. Mints are best when used during the wintertime. Some herbs should never be frozen, including bay leaves, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, mints and most of all chives!
If you’d like to know more about different herbs and their uses, please read ” Are The Herbs You Are Using Fresh? ” at http://spicebag.blogspot.com/ .
Herbs are great for infusing flavor into your food, but did you know that their fragrance and taste can also be enhanced by the time of year they are used? For example, rosemary is best used in the winter because it helps warm you up. Thyme has a strong smell and flavor that can overwhelm lighter dishes. It is best used in sauces and stews. Sage is most flavorful when used fresh, however dried sage can be used to enhance the flavor of other dishes. Parsley has a fresh, grassy taste that goes well with many dishes, especially fish or potatoes.
How do you go about using herbs at their best? I’ve discovered a really easy way to make sure your herbs are at their freshest by making your own herb blend called a “Spice Bag”. This technique allows you to use your favorite herbs together and ensures that each one is at their freshest when you use them.*
I love cooking and I love food. I also love trying to make different meals that taste good. There is nothing better than a really good ethnic meal. It isn’t just the taste, but the smells as well. The spices are what make all the difference in any dish.
Some people think that if you cannot pronounce an herb’s name then you should not use it in your recipe. This is not true, but there are certain herbs that are best used at certain times of the year or at certain times during a meal preparation. You want to use herbs that are fresh and not dried or stale herbs that have lost their potency during storage.
Ways to tell if your herbs are good:
1. Look for signs of moisture – Fresh herbs should be moist and not brittle, dried out or dusty looking.
2. Smell them – If they smell musty, do not buy them, no matter how fresh they look, because they will only get worse as they age. If they smell like nothing at all, they may be too old to use in cooking. There should be a recognizable herb smell to them with a hint of the aroma that makes them what they are commonly known for (ie: Rosemary will have a piney aroma and Lavender
The biggest problem with herbs is that they lose their potency once you get them home. If you use them at all, use only fresh herbs for the best flavor. Some herbs are better used before others. So how can you tell if the herbs in your spice bag were recently picked?
The smell test: put your nose close to the package and take a deep breath. You should smell a strong, fresh scent. If you don’t, look for something else.
The color test: some of the best quality spices are naturally dark, but not too dark. If it is as dark as chocolate or coffee beans, it has probably been sitting around too long.
Some spices need to be stored in a cool place like a refrigerator, so check the label if you notice a funny smell or color when you buy them.*
The date test: make sure the package says “freshly packaged for sale” and has an expiration date. If it doesn’t have one, put it back and find something fresher!
*If your spice is ground up into a powder, it will lose its potency faster than whole spices because there is more surface area exposed to air.”
A spice bag is a small cloth bag filled with herbs and spices. The idea is that you tie the top of the bag and then use it to flavor soups, stews, sauces, or whatever you’re cooking.
I can remember my own grandmother using these. She would pull out her spice bags and make sure that we knew about them. She was very proud of her spice bags and she used them in almost every dish she made.
I have heard that in olden times some people would put a few coins in their spice bags to keep them tied shut. They believed that this kept the spices fresher for longer periods of time. I’m not certain how true this is but I do know that if your spices are fresh they last longer than if they were old.*
So, you’ve probably figured out by now that I am talking about herbs. But what do you do with a spice bag? Well, you make one! It isn’t as difficult as you might think.
First of all you will need a nice clean piece of cloth. You can use an old pillow case or any other kind of fabric that you feel comfortable with. Wash it thoroughly so that there are no odors left on it.
What’s in your Spice Bag?
A spice bag is a combination of herbs used in cooking. What’s in your spice bag? Is it the same as it was ten years ago? Has it changed to reflect your interest in different herbs and spices? Has it changed because you haven’t used the spices you already have? I think that many cooks are like me. They buy spices or herbs, then leave them on the shelf, to be used if they feel like it. And, if they do use them, they use them in the same recipes over and over again.
Tastes change and so should your Spice Bag. The “Spice Bag” is not a set list of herbs and spices that should be in every kitchen. It’s a metaphor for understanding how to use herbs and spices better. A Spice Bag is a way to take stock of what you have and what you are using. A Spice Bag is an opportunity for you to taste again with fresh eyes and palate. To change, add or remove ingredients depending on what you are cooking now.
If you really want to understand how to cook with herbs and spices, start by making your own Spice Bag. Then, create a new one each time you cook
A spice bag is a cloth filled with whole herbs, or with chopped herbs or spices. In America, it is commonly used as a bag tied to a pot of boiling food on the stovetop. In India, it is tied to a pot of curry to infuse its flavour in the liquid.
How long should you simmer the spice bag? If you are cooking with fresh herbs, the answer is: just long enough to flavour the liquid.
The problem with whole spices is that they can continue to give off more flavour than you want into a dish even after you are done cooking it. This happens because a whole spice still has living cells that are releasing chemicals in response to heat and contact with air. The cells of dried herbs and spices were killed when they were dried, so there is less chance for over-flavouring after you take them out of your recipe.
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