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Herbs and Spices

Herbs are the leaves of plants and are available both fresh or dried. Fresh herbs have better, but more delicate flavor. Therefore, fresh herbs should be added toward the end of cooking or their delicate flavor will be lost. Dried herbs are more concentrated and can better withstand the heat of grilling. The rule of thumb is to use 3 times as much fresh herb than dried. Soft stemmed herbs such as basil and sage are best kept refrigerated standing in a glass of water. Woody stemmed herbs such as thyme and rosemary are best loosely wrapped in a moist towel and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Spices are most commonly the seeds of plants (pepper) but may also come from their bark (cinnamon) or roots (ginger). Ginger is one of the few spices that is available fresh, but also comes dried and ground. Seeds come as whole or ground. Most grilled food seasonings use ground spices, although sometimes freshly ground seeds (black pepper) are called for. The best flavor from ground spices is when they are first roasted in a dry skillet until they become fragrant, and then ground in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.

Whole seeds will maintain their flavor for up to two years if stored in a sealed container placed in a dark, dry location. Ground spices will maintain their flavor for only one year if similarly stored. Moisture is bad for spices. never hold an open spice bottle over a steaming pot.

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