Helpful Tips When Using Herbs for Cooking
When preparing your next meal, rather then using the traditional seasonings of salt and pepper consider using the flavor of herbs for cooking that next food dish. When utilizing herbs for cooking not only will you enhance the meal and add to the flavor of that particular dish, but you will be eating healthier as well. Those health benefits include the antioxidants gained from using herbs for cooking that favorite dish of your family.
Imagine the flavor of your next roasted chicken as it is succulently prepared with rosemary. Combined with lemon your chicken will take on a whole new flavor and will retain its moisture even when leftovers are frozen to be used for another meal. Or what would your Mexican dishes be without cilantro being added to provide that uniqueness to the dish.
How to Select Herbs
Selecting herbs for cooking is contingent upon a number of considerations. Those considerations include which herbs to use that bring out the flavor of the food that you are preparing. The second consideration is the timing involved when selecting the herbs for cooking. When selecting the right herbs for cooking there are some standard herbs that the cook can use when preparing certain dishes. For example basil goes well with recipes that utilize tomatoes and are especially good when preparing meals that include the use of pasta. Also, rosemary is especially flavorful when cooking such meat products as chicken, fish, pork, or lamb.
It is good to experiment with herbs by trying a variety of herbs in different food dishes to see how the flavor is enhanced or changed. In addition, you can try a combination of herbs in different recipes to see if there is a nice blend of flavors. When selecting herbs for cooking it is important to make sure that your herbs are as fresh as possible. Therefore, if taking them from your garden, in preparation for the meal that day, pick them in the early morning. They should be selected in that timeframe following the evaporation of the morning dew and before they are subjected to the afternoon sun.
Rinsing Your Herbs
As with all food products, prior to preparation, herbs for cooking should be rinsed with freshwater. Following the rinsing of the herbs make sure that you remove all excess water. This can be done by gently shaking the herbs and then patting the leaves dry by using a paper towel.
Preparing the Herbs
When preparing the herbs to be added to the food dish, it is important to cut the herbs into small pieces. This process can be accomplished by using cooking scissors or a sharpened knife. The use of a food processor is not recommended as a processor will, if the operator is not careful, mince the leaves of the herb too finely and form a mixture rather then keeping the herbs for cooking in small pieces.
Adding the Herbs to the Dish
Timing is everything and this axiom holds true when utilizing herbs for cooking. When the herbs are added to the food dish is dependent upon the herb that is selected. For example, the more delicate the herb, the later this herb is added to the food cooking process. Examples of delicate herbs are basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, etc.
Hardier herbs, such as dill seeds, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, etc., withstand the cooking process easier. Therefore, these particular herbs for cooking can be added in during the last 20 minutes or so of the cooking process.