Organic herbs and spices are Mother Nature’s versatile gifts. Herbs are the leaves; basil, thyme, and cilantro are good examples. Spices are the twigs, stems, roots, and seeds such as garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.
Before adding herbs and spices to a dish, smell or taste them to make sure they are fragrant and potent. Dried herbs can be stored for about a year, spices longer. Generally, you can add hearty spices in the beginning of cooking a dish. Delicate herbs, whether fresh or dry, are added at the end of cooking.
Every culture has its blend of sweet, sour and pungent flavored herbs and spices. Paired with beans, grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, wines, and cheeses; herbs and spices deliver ethnic flair, support our health, and reduce our need for salt. As garnishes, herbs whet our appetite with a stylish hint of what is to come.
Various herbs and spices cross borders and appear in more than one ethnic cuisine. Ginger is common in Indian, African and Asian dishes. Dill is a regular in Eastern European, Indian, Mediterranean and French cooking. Cumin is standard in African, French, Indian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine. These herbs and spices called carminatives aid digestion. They contain volatile oils that absorb intestinal gas, relax stomach muscles, increase peristalsis and reduce flatulence. Thyme, cinnamon, fennel, chilies, anise, caraway, cardamom, mint, and turmeric are also carminatives. Before scientists could explain their restorative virtues, cooks worldwide intuitively cooked with these herbs and spices.