Spices are the magic ingredients that add flavor to any food. Spices are one of the imperative factors that distinguish cultural cuisines from one another. They basically come from roots, seeds, bark, buds or stems of different trees or plants. There are hundreds of spices that are used differently in various cuisines across the world. In this article, we are sharing some useful tips that will help you to work with spices in the right manner.
Storing Your Spices
Where and how you store spices can make a significant difference in their flavors. In order to ensure that the spices remain fresh and flavorful, store them in a cool, dark place, where there is no direct heat.
Above or near the stove, dishwasher, or oven are some of the areas you should definitely steer clear from. Moreover, exposure to air can result in the spices losing its flavor quickly, therefore make sure you store them in airtight containers.
A lesser-known fact about spices is that they come with expiry dates that are often quicker than what most people would expect. When the spice expires, it becomes dull in color and loses its flavor. For instance, after expiry, the bright red color of paprika turns into a dull brown.
The moment you open the spice packet, it begins to age, therefore, keep a note of the date you opened them and keep checking to ensure that they are still fresh and fragrant. While spices age, there is no universal shelf life for them. However, whole spices typically last for up to one to two years, which is why you should prefer them over the ground variants. Besides, when you have whole spices, you can make All Spice, Chinese five spice powder or any other combination of spice at your home itself and use freshly.
Spice Grinder is Important
Freshly ground spices offer a better flavor than pre-ground spices. This is because as soon as spices are processed, they are exposed to oxygen, which slowly deteriorates their original quality. So, it is often recommended to invest in whole spices and grind them when you want to use.
It might seem like extra efforts but will make a significant difference in the flavor of your dish. Purchase a good spice grinder, and your job will be done in no time. There are a wide variety of spice grinders available in the market, and even if you are on a budget, you will get a good deal.
Toast them Up
If you want to get the most flavor out of your spices, you should toast them, irrespective of whether you are using whole or ground spices. When you heat, the complex flavors of the spices open up, making them smooth, instead of their original raw and hard version. Toasting is a very easy and quick process.
Put the required spices in a dry skillet and use medium-low heat to toast them. Make sure that you frequently stir the spices until you they have become dark and begin to exude a fragrance. The whole toasting should not take more a couple of minutes. Do not leave the stove unattended; otherwise, you will burn the spices. Once done, you immediately transfer them to cool dish as leaving in the hot pan can result in burning.
Doubling the Recipe Doesn’t Imply Doubly the Quantity of Spices
If you’re scaling down or up the recipe, there is no exact answer with regards to the quantity of the spice. Strong spices if doubled up, can overwhelm your entire dish, and the flavors of other ingredients will be lost. So for such spices, instead of doubling use 1.23 times the amount written in the recipe when you increase the cooking portion.
This way, you will not end up with a dish that only has one strong flavor. Using spices is all about having an understanding of the flavors and strength. When you know who strong or subtle the spices are, you will be able to measure the quantity against the portion.
Blooming your Spices
Blooming, similar to toasting, is a technique to accentuate the flavor of the spices. However, in this technique, the spices are cooked in hot oil, so that releases the flavor. This way spices are toasted, and their flavors also get infused in the cooking oil. The prominent flavor component in a lot of spices and hervás are fat-soluble. So when they are heated in fat prior to adding liquid in the pot, you are able to extract more flavor than you would by merely simmering spices and herbs in the water. In fact, the blooming spices in oil can release ten times more flavor.
Knowing how to work with different spices need you to have a good understanding of their flavor and how they work with other ingredients. Above are some useful tips for using spices in your dishes to accentuate the overall flavor.