Herbs and spices – part II

Last week we talked about the distinctive flavor of spices and herbs. Here’s some information on how to use them when cooking fruits and veggies and details on how to substitute fresh for dry or vice versa.

Can I substitute fresh for dry herbs and spices?

  • ¼ teaspoon powdered = ¼ to 1 teaspoon dried crumbled = 2 to 3 teaspoon fresh
  • Chop fresh herbs fine to allow for more flavor to be released.
If you are cooking: Try flavoring it with:
Asparagus Caraway, mustard, nutmeg, tarragon
Beets Bay leaf, caraway, cloves, ginger
Berries Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla
Broccoli Mustard, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon
Cabbage Caraway, celery seed, cumin, curry, fennel
Carrots Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram
Cauliflower Cayenne, celery seed, chili powder, nutmeg
Corn Celery seed, cumin, curry powder, onion, parsley
Cucumbers Chives, dill, garlic, mint, parsley, vinegar
Green Beans Dill, curry powder, oregano, tarragon, thyme
Greens Onion, pepper
Melons Cardamom, ginger, mint, pepper
Peaches Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
Pears Anise, cinnamon, mint, nutmeg
Peas Dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage
Rhubarb Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla
Spinach Cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, oregano, sage, thyme
Summer Squash Cloves, curry powder, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
Tomatoes Basil, bay leaf, dill, onion, oregano, parsley

How long should I keep spices and herbs?

As a general rule, keep herbs or ground spices for 1 year; keep whole spices 2 years.

  • Buy a smaller container until you know how fast you’ll use a spice or herb. If it smells strong and flavorful, it’s probably still potent.
  • Rub a small amount of an herb or ground spice in your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich, and immediate, it can still flavor foods.
  • Check a whole spice—such as a clove or cinnamon stick—by breaking, crushing, or scraping it before smelling it. Avoid smelling pepper or chili powder as they can irritate your nose.
  • Label date of purchase on container with a permanent marking pen and store away from any sources of heat (e.g., oven, stove top) to maintain their quality.

Source: University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Fruits and Vegetables: Nature’s Cancer Prevention

What is known about cancer prevention is still evolving, but we do know that chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices we make. Some simple changes can make a big difference – such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular screenings.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends we fill at least two-thirds of our plates with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Research shows that vegetables and fruits likely protect against a range of cancers.

Vegetables and fruits may protect against cancer because they contain vitamins, minerals, and food heartphytochemicals. Vitamins and minerals help strengthen our immune system. Phytochemicals (a.k.a. antioxidants) protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer. Typically, phytochemicals are found in the pigment, which is why eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is important.

Enjoy vegetables and fruits with less sugar and salt—season with herbs and spices. Herbs (leaves of low-growing shrubs) and spices (come from the bark, root, buds, seeds, berry, or fruit of tropical plants and trees) are recommended in place of table salt. The key is understanding how and when to use them.

Each spice or herb has a distinctive flavor, but certain spices and herbs can be grouped together according to a type of flavor:

  • Strong or dominant—Includes bay leaf, cardamom, curry, ginger, pepper, mustard, rosemary, sage.
  • Medium—Includes basil, celery seeds and leaves, cumin, dill, fennel, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, savory, thyme, turmeric. Use in moderate amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons for 6 servings).
  • Delicate—Includes chervil, chives, parsley. May be used in large quantities and combined with most other herbs and spices.
  • Sweet—Includes cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, mint. Combined in sweet dishes, these may let you reduce sugar.
  • Savory—Includes oregano, tarragon, chives, dill.
  • Peppery—Includes red pepper, mustard, black pepper, paprika. Use with care because their flavors stand out (approximately 1 teaspoon for 6 servings).

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