Herbs, Spices, Seasonings, & Flavorings

What is the Difference Between Spices and Herbs and Flavoring?

  • Spices are – the roots, bark and seeds of specific plants.
  • Herbs are the leaves of specific plants.
  • Flavoring changes the overall flavor of the food.

Herbs

Herbs are to be added at the last part of cooking. After you have brought home your herbs or plucked them out from your garden they will require cleaning. But before washing remember to remove – the stems then wash – and dry. Please note it is not necessary to remove the stems from cilantro, dill or parsley but for herbs such as mint, basil or sage you will want to remove the woody stem. To wash your herbs place them in a bowl of cool water and gently swoosh the herbs while removing any dirt or debris that floats up. After washing your herbs gently shake off the excess water. Place your herbs on a dry cotton towel allowing the water to fully dry off them. Now they are ready to store in your refrigerator or use – to cook with.

It is good to remember not to cut fresh herbs when wet. Why? They bruise easily when wet which causes the product to become mushy.

Reasons for using herbs include a wonderful aromatic smell as well as adding  rich fresh flavor to your dish.

Cutting Your Herbs

If you have a dish that requires herbs you might wish to chiffonade your herbs, then add them to finish your dish such as a soup.

If you have a dish that requires herbs you might wish to chiffonade your herbs, then add them to finish your dish such as a soup. Note: if you wish to have less strength of the herb, then add it to your dish right before it finishes cooking. But if you wish for the herb to have a wonderful aromatic effect add it right after it has cooked. For example, place the herb on top of the soup or pizza just before serving to your family or guests.

Spices

A spice consists of the stems and seeds which may be dried and/or ground which is added earlier in the cooking process. The breakdown of the spices while they are cooking is a maceration process. Maceration is the softening or breaking into pieces using a liquid such as a Tomato Salad with garlic, onions, basil and oregano accompanied by lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. I am not understanding the explanation and it’s relevance to spices, since the above are herbs. It might be helpful to include that some spices are irritants. Uchee Pines has a good article on this.

A seasoning (stems and seeds which are dried or ground) is added earlier to the dish. Fresh spices should also be washed and dried before using.

What Is The Difference Between Seasoning Vs Flavoring?

A Seasoning is highlighting or bringing out the natural flavor of food. For example, salt is used to enhance (bring out) the natural flavor. Whereas a flavoring changes the overall flavor of the food. One example is tofu, when we add flavoring like soy sauce, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. It is also important to note that herbs or spices can be a flavoring depending on how much is used in your recipe.

When we bake a pizza we would be highlighting the natural flavor of the food by adding a seasoning at the end of its cooking. This is accomplished when we chiffonade fresh basil and/or oregano placing on the pizza right after it is removed from the oven. The time of the placement of the herb is often important as the steam heats up the herb to infuse flavor. This also can be done with soups when we add zest or other types of seasonings. Zest may be used either as a seasoning or a flavoring depending on when it is placed into the food. If the zest is placed into the food early it will become a flavoring, while if placed just before the food product is finished cooking or just after it is finished cooking it will become a seasoning.

Zest – is the peel of a citrus fruit. It can be grated or peeled.

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