Is there a rule of thumb for herbs and spices?

When cooking from a recipe, things are very easy, you follow the directions, add the ingredients in the amounts shown, and VOILA, youre an instant chef 😉 I cook from scratch most of the time and of course i use moms recipes too, but when I cook from scratch i like to explore new territories. Sometimes my creations are very good, and I have to admit ive tossed some in the trash too… I have no formal training in the culinary arts but can someone give me some advice on how to pick herbs and spices for my creations? One thing I have tried is hold the herb/spice over what i am cooking to blend the smells to see it they are compatible but this doesnt always work. Can someone help with good rule of thumb?

8 thoughts on “Is there a rule of thumb for herbs and spices?

  1. If you are using dried herbs check the label on the back (or if in a tin – look on the back of the tin) – it will usually tell you what type of dishes, vegetables, sauces, etc. the herb will complement.

    Also here is a great site that explains the herb, it’s flavor and uses:

  2. Trial and error are the best way to go. I cook Italian, French, American, Mexican & a little Spanish (paella mostly, lol) and couldn’t possibly write a recipe down. What I do is look at recipes to get an idea of what flavors tend to be mixed together and also look for info on the spices I use to see what their character profile is if I’m unfamiliar with them. Even then, it can be boon or bust.

  3. basil is a good spice for almost anything. i do the same as you, with the spices. there is no rule of thumb
    have fun with it.

  4. when you use dried herbs use less since the flavor is more concentrated.using freshly ground pepper is always more flavorful.also using fresh basil is the best flavor far far better than dried.i hope you can come up with yummy dishes!

  5. When experimenting stick with the suggested uses for a herb, for example basil goes well with tomato based recipes, etc. Use them sparingly, especially in dried form. As you and your family develop a taste for them then you can increase the amount. Taste a small amount of the herb as that will give you a better idea if it will work with the dish you are preparing.

  6. First, let us make the distinction between Herbs and Spices:
    Herbs are leaves (and stems), therefor they are usually green. (Oregano, basil, parsley, chervil, bay, rosemary, etc, are herbs)

    Spices are made from seeds, nuts and bark, therefor they are generally brown. (Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, etc are Spices)

    Herbs are best in vegetables and chicken and fish and mixed casseroles. Spices are nice in dessert dishes, pies, puddings, muffins, sweet breads, etc)
    Herbs do not work well in sweet dishes, whereas some spices are good in savory dishes.
    Learn the tastes of the herbs and spices and you will, in time, be able to know which will be nice added to what you’re cooking.
    Good luck

  7. i was given a book called culinary artistry a coupla yrs ago,,, it gives a peek into blending H &S with meats, vegs, and sauces,, though expensive (35 US) it gives “rule of thumb” but i dont always agree w/ it, LOL,,
    I usually start w S & P and go from there,, your right !! smells have an influence on taste, and vise versa,,, also i put a teeny amount of what ever i’m thinking will work w/ the dish in my hand and taste it along with the dish,,, THIS WORKS, for me anyway
    remember that to much of a good thing is,,,,,, too much :),, and different vinigars can work magic in sauces,,,,
    write down your boons, and make notes on your busts,lol,,, cooking is a never ending adventure,, and you off to a great start,,,,, much enjoyment to you and yours in the future

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