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Spices 101: Add Flavor to Your Meals Like a Pro With These 10 Tips

What type of spices do you love adding to your meals?

Food is one of the best things in the world. It nourishes your body with all the right nutrients you need to properly function, acts like medicine when you don’t feel good (aka that delicious chicken soup you might have when you have a cold), it’s a good way to discover more about other countries culture, and it’s also a great way to socialize.

But when it comes to flavor, everyone knows that spices are the ones that make it taste good. However, a lot of people tend to stay away from experimenting in the kitchen due to the fact that they have no idea how to use condiments. But things are actually a lot simpler than they seem. All you need to learn are a few easy tips that will act as a guideline the next time you want to cook a dish from scratch!

If you are aware of the basic “rules”, such as when to add your spice or how much to add, you can slowly learn how to become a good and confident cook. Without further ado, here are our best tips on how to add flavor to your food like a pro!

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1. Store your spices right 

Many people believe that it doesn’t matter where they store their seasonings, but that’s one of the biggest mistakes they make! Put all of your condiments in a dark, cool place and in airtight containers. One of the worst places you could possibly put your spices is above your stove.

If you want them to maintain their flavor and be as fresh as new, you have to store them in a suitable place. If they get in contact with too much direct heat and humidity, they will quickly go bad and you won’t be able to use them.

2. Check the expiration date

I don’t know about you, but I’m actually guilty of doing this. I sometimes forget that spices do have an expiration date, and if I want to make my meals tasty and flavorful, I really need to remember to check the date before using them!

So, yes, condiments can expire quicker than you might think! This can influence their taste and, in some cases, even their color. When paprika’s gone bad, for instance, its color will change from bright red to dull brown. Your seasonings start to age the minute you’ve opened their package, so remember that! A good way of avoiding this is by marking the date you open them and don’t forget to check them to be sure they’re still fresh and good to consume.

3. How to use dry herbs 

You can add spices to your meals either during cooking or after your food is done. But when it comes to herbs, things are different. They need more time to release their flavor, which means that it is better to add them during the cooking process.

Chefs usually add them to sauces, stews, and other recipes that take longer to cook, so they have time to fully develop and release their amazing flavor.

Tip: You can add dry herbs to recipes that don’t take a lot of time to cook! You just have to rub them between your fingers first, so that they can quickly release some of their flavors.

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4. Get a spice grinder

You might find this one completely unnecessary, but if you want to become the best chef in your house in no time, the key is to know how to bring out the best flavors in your food! And let me tell you that freshly ground spices are way more flavorful compared to the pre-ground ones.

As you might already know, apples quickly start to deteriorate as you cut and expose them to oxygen. Believe it or not, the same concept applies to your favorite seasonings. If you want to give your dishes more flavor, buy whole condiments and grind them at home. Trust me, the difference will make everything worth it!

5. Learn how to grind 

If I’ve convinced you of investing in a grinder, it’s time to tell you that you have to experiment with your new device and learn how to properly grind your spices. It might not seem like a big deal, but how fine you grind your seasonings is key when it comes to the final taste test.

Black pepper, for instance, can vary from mild to spicy depending on how fine or not it’s ground. While finely ground pepper stings your throat and seems a bit harsh, coarsely ground pepper is relatively mild.

6. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for whole spices

If you want to use soft and big chunks of seasonings, such as mustard seeds, peppercorns, and juniper, you don’t specifically need a grinder for them. You can simply smash them with a heavy pan or pot on a cutting board and they’ll crack open. This will release their unique flavors, which will make your food extremely delicious!

The harshness of peppercorns is just right for seasoning steaks before baking them. This will help the meat create a nice, crunchy crust, as well as a mild pepper flavor. It’s juicy and delicious, and the texture is simply perfect!

7. Toast your condiments 

Another great way to release the flavors of seasonings is to toast them for a bit before actually adding them to your food. You can toast both whole and ground condiments, but make sure you pay extra attention to the ground ones, as they are more likely to burn.

If you want to use whole seasonings and then grind them, you’d better toast them first. And if you want to make your grains even more flavorful, only toast them for a couple of seconds, just enough to wake them up and amp up their aroma.

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8. Bloom your spices 

Blooming your spices is a technique that is similar to the toasting one, and it requires cooking your seasonings in hot oil to help them release their flavor. This process is actually a 2-in-1, as it toasts spices and infuses their aroma into the oil at the same time. If you follow this simple trick, your food will turn out better than ever!

If you want to create a meal that starts by cooking your aromatics in oil, such as garlic and onions, here’s what you can do: add your seasonings along with your vegetables so that they get the chance to bloom and infuse the dish with their tastiness.

9. Get a Microplane 

Spices have the best taste when they’re freshly grated, so grating them directly into your meal is never a bad idea! But if you want to achieve the perfect coarse texture, you should consider getting a Microplane. These devices are tiny enough to fit in your kitchen without any problem, and they will give you the ability to grind all the spices that you want!

…You might not believe it, but a few simple tips and tricks can take your cooking experience to a whole new level! Try it and you’ll be surprised! 

10. Learn your chilis 

Ground peppers and chilies are not the same. Some of them are hot but don’t have that much flavor, while others are very tasty but not hot at all. For instance, Cayenne pepper is a great spice to add when you want something hot without adding too much flavor.

Red pepper flakes, on the contrary, have a somewhat fruity flavor and also a mild level of hotness. Don’t think that all ground peppers are the same because you might pick up the wrong one and your food won’t taste the way you wanted it to.

…Do you like using spices in the kitchen? Share all of your cooking secrets with us! If you have any tips for us on what kinds of spices to use and what foods work best for them, leave a comment down below!

…Do you want to eat more healthily and focus on a balanced lifestyle? Here’s an article that will help you out: Cutting Down on Processed Food? Here Are 7 PRACTICAL Ways to Do It!

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