Many times ethnic foods are popular choices because of their spiciness. Our “south of the border friends” have a knack for incorporating chili peppers and turmeric in their dishes. Indian cuisine includes the use of curry and Asian dishes are often sprinkled with ginger juice or soy sauce. Herbs and spices have been used for centuries to season and flavor foods. In prehistoric times, people discovered that certain parts of plants made food taste better. Herbs were the flavoring of the common people, often grown in kitchen gardens or gathered in the woods. Modern consumers use both herbs and spices to enhance the flavor and healthfulness of foods.
Mark your calendar for the educational program I will present titled, “Seasoning with Herbs and Spices.” Thursday, April 7th at noon, I will be at the Great Bend Activity Center, 2715 18th St., and on Friday, April 8th at 1 p.m., I will be at the Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas. The programs are free and open to everyone. There will be sampling of several spices at the conclusion of the program.
Spices from all over the world are widely available. Herbs can be grown in the home garden, or purchased from a farmers market or grocery store. Seasonings are sold whole, crushed, powdered, dry, or fresh to provide a variety of flavors. Herbs and spices have many wonderful properties, one being to reduce the growth of bacteria in foods. Herbs and spices – including cloves, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, and rosemary – can function as antibacterial agents.
Many people have questions about the best way to store herbs and spices. The flavors of herbs and spices are fragile and can be destroyed by heat, light and moisture. Store seasonings in tightly covered containers in a cupboard or drawer. Store them away from heat and moisture sources such as the dishwasher, sink, range or heating vent. Most people keep seasonings too long for best quality. To determine a flavoring’s quality, crush or rub a small amount in your hand to see if it smells strong and flavorful. Generally keep herbs and ground spices about a year or less. Keep whole spices up to two years or less. Write the date on the seasoning container when you bring it home from the store.
One final thing I will be focusing on is how we can use seasonings to replace sugar, salt or fat to make the preparation method healthier. Another healthful benefit comes from the antioxidant power many herbs have.
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. She may be reached at (620)793-1910 or email@example.com.