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Spices 101

When to Use Spices and Herbs?

  • Add ground spices to food toward the end of cooking time, unless you are cooking with low heat, then add at the beginning

  • Add whole spices toward the beginning of cooking time

  • As a general rule, add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time,

    • For uncooked foods, add spices and herbs several hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

  • Crush dried herbs before adding to foods

How Much to Use?

General Rule - if you don't know how much of a spice or herb to use, begin with 1/4 teaspoon of most ground spices or ground dried herbs for these amounts and adjust as needed

Start with 1/8 teaspoon for cayenne pepper and garlic powder; adjust as needed.

The amount to add varies with the type of spice or herb, type of recipe and personal preference.


  • 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs

  • 1 teaspoon dried leafy herbs

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herbs


How to Start?  

  • Start with a tested recipe from a reliable source. Go to website that have rated recipes and that read the comments. 

  • Take something you make and like now and add a spice or herb you are partial to and consider how the addition adds to the taste you are used to.


When cooking with spices, smell and taste as you add to your recipe and when you eat the food, try to identify the spices you used.


How Long To Keep Spices & Herbs?

General rule:
6mo - 1 year for herbs or ground spices;
2-3 years for whole spices.


Buy smaller quantities until you determine how fast you'll use a herb or spice.

  • Use your senses, if it smells strong and flavorful, it's good

  • Put date of purchases on container


Storing Herbs and Spices

  • Store in a tightly covered container.

  • Store in a dark place away from sunlight.

  • Prevent moisture from entering the container during use

    • Remove from container with a dry spoon.

    • Avoid sprinkling directly from container into a steaming pot to prevent steam moisture from entering the container.

  • DO NOT store above the stove, dishwasher, microwave or refrigerator, or near a sink or heating vent.

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