Toups House 11 December 4,2020

Herbs and spices can help with health as well as add flavor to food.

Herbs and spices are a must for flavorful dishes. Herbs are derived from the green leafy part of a plant, while spices come from the root, stem, fruit or bark of a tree or plant.

The benefits of herbs and spices

Herbs and spices have several benefits.

Herbs and spices, in general, are low in calories, sodium and fat and have no cholesterol.

They also improve the taste of food, while adding color and preserving it.

Many people don’t realize that herbs and spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and are extremely high in B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, B12 and folate acid) and trace minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, iodine and zinc.

One major benefit of herbs and spices is the high presence of disease fighting antioxidants. More antioxidants are present in herbs and spices than fruits and vegetables.

Herbs and spices are used in the prevention or treatment of for GI problems such as diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and heart attacks, and cancers such as breast, pancreas and brain.

Pairing of herbs and spices

Replace salt and sugar in foods with herbs and spices, but three questions must be answered:

1. What spice goes with what food?

2. How much can be used?

3. How can they be paired?

The following suggestions will be able to help with pairing herbs and spices together to achieve different flavors.

Strong or dominant flavor

Includes curry, ginger, pepper, mustard, rosemary, sage

Medium flavors

Use in moderate amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons for 6 servings). Includes basil, celery seeds and leaves, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, mint, oregano, savory, thyme, turmeric.

Delicate flavors

Includes burnet, chervil, chives, parsley. May be used in large quantities and combined with most other herbs and spices.

Sweet flavor

Includes cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, mint

Savory flavor

Oregano, tarragon, chives, dill

Peppery flavor

Red pepper, mustard, black pepper, paprika. Use with care since their flavors stand out (approximately 1 teaspoon for 6 servings).

Storage of herbs and spices

Since herbs and spices are expensive, they should be stored properly. Your recipes will not be tasty if the herbs and spices have lost their flavorings. All herbs and spices should be kept in a cool, dry place and in airtight containers. Store dried herbs in plastic bags, glass jars or stainless-steel containers rather than cardboard. It is especially important to keep containers out of direct sunlight, which fades the color of the herb and reduces the strength.

SOURCE: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/using-herbs-and-spices/

Here is a look at the use, benefits and storage of several herbs and spices:

Rosemary

Use: digestion problems, heartburn, intestinal gas, loss of appetite.

Benefits: antioxidants, improve digestion, improve memory, prevent brain aging

Storage: cool dry place

Sage

Use: loss of appetite, stomach pain, diarrhea

Benefits: anti-inflammatory, antioxidants

Storage: refrigerate for 4-5 days

Thyme

Use: occasional cough

Benefits: sore throats, antioxidants. antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal

Storage: refrigerate for 10-14 days

Oregano

Use: URI, GI disorder, UTI, menstrual cramps

Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic

Storage: refrigerate for three days

Basil

Use: loss of appetite, intestinal gas, diarrhea

Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial

Storage: Refrigerate for 1 week

Cinnamon

Use: diabetes, loss of appetite, bronchitis

Benefits: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic

Storage: cool dark dry place

Cumin

Use: natural laxative, improve digestion, relieve stress and anxiety

Benefits: antioxidants, improve immunity

Storage: cool dark dry place 

Garlic

Use: hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis

Benefits: antioxidants, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic

Storage: peeled — refrigerate for few days; unpeeled — refrigerate for 10 days to 1 month

Ginger

Use: arthritis, colic, diarrhea, colds/flu, inflammation, clotting

Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging

Storage: refrigerate for about one month

Turmeric

Use: prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer

Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

Storage: Refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks


Editor's note: Written by Marquette Anderson, of the LSU AgCenter in St. Helena.