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Old 05-19-2012, 04:07 AM   #1
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Adding herbs and spices to salads and soups?

Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum and want to learn more about cooking, and in particular healthy cooking.

I am interested in adding herbs and spices to my food but I'm wondering if I could get some guidance on one question:

I eat many salads and soups, and with my current limited knowledge of herbs and spices, I believe that they can't be eaten raw (e.g., dried thyme, paprika, etc), is this indeed the case, do they need to be cooked? If so, then how would you recommend adding herbs and spices to salads and soups, since the former are not cooked, and the latter are brewed (rather than fried, and I thought that herbs and spices need to be fried to be edible)


Many thanks for the help!

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Old 05-19-2012, 06:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hermes14 View Post
Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum and want to learn more about cooking, and in particular healthy cooking.

I am interested in adding herbs and spices to my food but I'm wondering if I could get some guidance on one question:

I eat many salads and soups, and with my current limited knowledge of herbs and spices, I believe that they can't be eaten raw (e.g., dried thyme, paprika, etc), is this indeed the case, do they need to be cooked? If so, then how would you recommend adding herbs and spices to salads and soups, since the former are not cooked, and the latter are brewed (rather than fried, and I thought that herbs and spices need to be fried to be edible)


Many thanks for the help!
hi hermes,welcome to dc from manchester uk.you're right,most dried herbs/spices need to have the "rawness" cooked out of them either by frying if they are ground or dry pan roasting in the case of whole dried spice.i guess just a couple of exceptions are ground black pepper as a condiment & dried dill which can be mixed into mayo as an accompaniment to fish etc.but why only use dried?.raw,finely shredded fresh basil or coriander(cilantro)leaf work beautifully in a salad.a lot of fresh herbs like basil,coriander leaf,dill & thyme have quite a short "half life" when cooked & should be added towards the end of the cooking time for max flavour so are well suited to the gentler cooking of soups
good luck!
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:39 AM   #3
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Not sure what you mean by raw, but many dried herbs are used in salad dressings and fresh herbs are used in the salad itself. Spices are often used in their raw form as well. Many folks use paprika sprinkled on potato salad or deviled eggs. Dried oregano is shaken, as is, over Italian-American sandwiches. Soups can be hot or cold. Herbs and spices are used in both. I'll put fresh grated nutmeg on squash and potato soups.
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:44 AM   #4
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I dont cook out dried herbs, I just add them straight into whatever dish I am using them in. Some dishes are cooked, some are not, for example I use dried oregano in a greek salad, I dont cook it out first.

I only cook out whole spices, before grinding, such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds, that type of thing, this really brings them out and then you can grind them.
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:56 AM   #5
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Most herbs are fresh or dried leaves and stalks of plants. Dried herbs need to be rehydrated to release their flavor. Most spices are seeds, berries and barks. They need to be ground and often cooked with food to provide their flavor.

As was mentioned, fresh herbs work great uncooked. Otherwise, the issue is getting the flavors from the dried herbs and spices. They provide the best flavor when they have time to release their flavors. Roasting and grinding spices is the best way to maximize their flavors.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:22 AM   #6
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I appreciate the advice guys :) Now things are starting to make more sense about herbs and spices.

So am I correct in understanding that as long as the herbs and spices are grounded (rather than whole pieces of herbs and spices because it might not be pleasant chewing threw a whole piece of cinnamon or cloves, for example), it is possible to add them to any food without cooking them?

Thanks
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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At least in some cases. You already grind black pepper onto food at the dinner table.

If they are ground, they'll be edible sprinkled on food but may not be the best use.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:40 AM   #8
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Cheers for the help!
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:13 PM   #9
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I add both fresh & dried herbs/spices "as is" to salads all the time. No reason not to. The only "prep" I might do is to rub them between my hands over the dish to release more of the oils.

The only time I would normally roast/toast dried spices (not herbs, SPICES - dried herbs would just get burnt if you tried to toast them) would be when cooking Indian cuisine, where spice mixtures are normally toasted to help bring out & meld the flavors for particular curries. For most other cuisines, it's not called for or necessary.

If spices like cinnamon, cloves, etc., are ground, there is absolutely no reason or necessity to cook them.
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #10
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...when cooking Indian cuisine, where spice mixtures are normally toasted to help bring out & meld the flavors for particular curries. For most other cuisines, it's not called for or necessary...

I'd bet when making molés in Mexico, they toast the spices to get max flavor. I frequently toast a ground spice to enhance its flavor if its been sitting for a while.

Fact is, if toasting spices brings out their natural oils and therefore their flavor, it should be done regardless of cuisine.
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