Seasoning with Herbs and Spices

Let Lindsay Herman teach you how to grow, harvest, and preserve over a hundred different spices and herbs so that you never have to wonder again about the best seasoning for the taste you crave.

  • “Herb & Spice Companion: The Complete Guide to Over 100 Herbs & Spices” by Lindsay Herman
    Photo courtesy of Wellfleet Press
  • This book runs the gamut on the most-used herbs and spices in kitchens all over the world.
    Photo by Fotolia/akulamatiau

When it comes to cooking, the sheer variety of herbs and spices can be overwhelming. With all the powders, jars, and plants available, how do you know what to buy and when to use it? When is fresh better than dry? Should you eat the stems, the leaves, the roots? In Herb & Spice Companion (Wellfleet Press, 2015), Lindsay Herman has created an accessible guide to seasonings, with over one hundred profiles of the most-used herbs and spices across the globe. From sage and parsley to licorice and saffron, Herman provides a comprehensive look at each plant’s history, how to prep and serve and store the seasoning, and how to grow your own herbs from seed to harvest. That’s not even mentioning her instructions on various techniques for drying, freezing, frying, mixing, crushing, and chopping that are both brilliant and simple. A book for everyone, from cooks just starting out to old pros adding excitement to their dishes, Herb & Spice Companion is a must for any kitchen.

Cooking With Herbs

Culinary herbs can be divided into two general categories that will help you determine how to cook them: robust herbs and tender herbs.

Herbs with robust, deep flavors — such as thyme, rosemary, curry leaves, garlic, and sage — will hold up well to heat. These herbs can cook for long periods of time and are often added at the beginning of a recipe, so the rich flavors have time to simmer and emanate thoroughly into a dish while cooking. Robust herbs are great for stews, soups, roasts, and dishes that are braised or grilled. Of course, if a slow-cooked dish needs more flavor after cooking, you can add chopped herbs to taste before serving (But use caution: a little goes a long way!).

Robust Herbs: Bay leaf, Culantro, Curry leaf, Lavender, Lemongrass, Myrtle, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Winter Savory

At the other end of the spectrum are tender herbs, such as cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, and chives. The leaves and stems of tender herbs should be added at the end of cooking or just before serving, as they can’t withstand much heat and will lose their flavor if cooked for too long. These herbs are delicious additions to fresh salads, soups, eggs, fish, vegetable dishes, and potatoes.

Tender Herbs: Basil, Catnip, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Horseradish, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Scallions, Summer Savory, Tarragon, Watercress

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