Add Flavour to Your Food with Herbs & Spices

Once you have installed the kitchen of your dreams, it’s time to turn your attention to the details which can mean the difference between a well-equipped kitchen and one that represents the spirit of your home. One of these extra details is to install a spice rack. There are a wide range of spice racks from ones with shelves to ones which revolve, and all in materials which match your kitchen décor. Your choice ultimately depends on the space you have available.

The most important thing to remember is that the spice rack should never be located near the stove, oven or dishwasher. The heat from these appliances can drastically reduce their shelf-life and reduce their potency. Instead, herbs and spices should be kept away from sources of heat including direct sunlight.

If you prefer your kitchen to retain an uncluttered look, you could organise them in an easily-accessible cupboard, always keeping the ones you use more frequently at the front. A drawer is another storage possibility, but make sure that you write theircontents on labels on the lids to save you precious time when cooking.

Herbs and spices should be kept in airtight jars, and glass is ideal as it is easy to wash but doesn’t retain smells. Although they can last for 2-3 years if kept in the right conditions, they might start to lose their potency after 6-12 months. Your nose is your best guide to the strength of their flavour and if necessary, you can increase the amount given in the recipe to compensate for this.

Everything about the money required to purchase herbs and spices for home-cooked meals can add to your overall budget so it’s a good idea to make them last as long as possible.  You should never add directly from the jar as the condensation from the cooking can wreak havoc with their taste and how long they last. In addition, you could buy smaller jars to prevent wastage. There are also plenty of sites related to money topicswith ideas about nutritious but inexpensive meals.

Apart from the basic seasoning of salt and pepper (which are indispensable for every kitchen), what other basic herbs and spices will you need?

Dried Herbs

Although herbs from wetter climates don’t dry well because of their high-water content, your top 5 dried herbs for your rack should be oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and bay leaves. Blending basil, thyme and/or oregano is the basis of many Mediterranean recipes including tomato-based pasta dishes and stews while rosemary complements meat especially lamb. One or two bay leaves are often added to slow-cooking soups and stews.

Dried Spices

Your spice rack should contain cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and cumin. Although these dried spices are often associated with sweet dishes and desserts, you’ll be surprised by how stews can be enlivened by a pinch of cinnamon, for example. Nutmeg is often combined with any cream- or milk-based dish while paprika and cumin can add a touch of fire to any dish.