Kitchen Hints and Tips - Herbs and Spices

The general ratio to substitute fresh herbs for dried is 3 to 1. That is, use 3 times as much fresh herbs as dried herbs that recipes might call for.

NEVER store spices above the stove. It's very hot and can be humid.

Red spices will maintain flavor and retain color longer if they are stored in the refrigerator.

Store spices in a cool place, away from any direct source of heat. The heat will destroy their flavor.

Arrange spices in alphabetical order and eliminate the problem of hunting through all of them to find the right one.

When using fresh herbs instead of dried, use three times the recommended amount.

Before adding dried herbs, rub them between your palms or fingertips to release their flavor.

"Chop" fresh herbs by placing them in a glass measuring cup and snipping with scissors.

Fresh herbs will keep a week or more in the refrigerator if you store them upright in a jar with water in the bottom; cover jar.

If you are bunch-drying small herbs, such as thyme or oregano, you'll find that their very short stems fall out of the string as they shrivel. Tie the small herbs together in the MIDDLE of the bunch. They'll dry without falling.

Crush dried herbs gently with a mortar and pestle to enhance their flavor. Slightly bruising fresh herbs will increase their effectiveness.

Since many recipes call for both salt and pepper, keep a large shaker filled with a mixture of both — 3/4 salt and 1/4 pepper is a good combination.

Basil
To enjoy "fresh" basil during the winter, whirl 2 cups of fresh, loosely-packed leaves with 1 1/2 cups water in a blender. Pour into ice-cube trays and freeze. Add cubes as needed to hot soups, stews, and sauces.

Bouquet Garni
If none is available, add one or two tablespoons of B & B liqueur. The alcohol burns off during cooking, and the combination of more than 20 spices in this liqueur adds wonderful flavor.

Use a tea ball to hold the herbs. It can be hung over the side of the pan and just as easily be removed.

Make one by putting the herbs in a coffee filter and securing it with a string or twist tie from which the paper has been removed.

Ginger
To store fresh ginger, cut the root into small pieces and put into a small jar. Add a little dry sherry, cover the jar and store it in the refrigerator.

To store fresh ginger, slice it and wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze it for up to two weeks.

Salt
To prevent salt from clogging in the shaker, keep 5 to 10 grains of rice inside the shaker.

If you have over-salted a dish, try to save it by adding a teaspoon each of vinegar and sugar to the dish and simmer for a short while. This may save the dish.

Slices of raw potato will absorb extra salt. For a stew or soup, you can try adding thick slices of potato. The potato will attract and hold some of the excess salt and can be removed before serving the dish.