While many chefs and amateur cooks rave about a fine cut of meat and fresh vegetables, in many recipes, it is the seasonings that do most of the work. Properly seasoned food smells better, tastes better, and leaves a lasting impression on family and friends. Moreover, herbs and spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties, are high in B-vitamins and minerals, and have medicinal uses, making them a healthy choice as well as a delicious one. Because of this, if you have never learned how to cook with spices, you are missing out on a whole world of benefits. Read on to learn how to use these different types of ingredients to create an entirely new culinary experience!

Fresh Herbs
Some plants work better as a seasoning when used fresh. While this might not seem as convenient as simply reaching into your pantry for an ingredient, it can be easier than you expect: simply buy fresh herbs and store them in your fridge, wrapped in wet paper towels in a sealable plastic bag. You can also easily grow plants like mint, basil, cilantro, chives and more. When it comes time to cook them, fresh herbs are great as garnishes, or can be chopped and mixed into roasts, sautees, and dishes like mashed potatoes.

Dried Herbs
While some plants are better used fresh, woody herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary tend to dry and preserve better, meaning they can easily be stored and added to your dishes as needed. To keep their taste strong, however, keep them away from air, heat and sunlight, preferably in a covered cabinet. If you are learning how to cook with spices, you will notice that recipes will typically ask you to measure out the spices and use them during the cooking process, which allows them to infuse through the dish. You can also use dry spices to create a gourmet dry rub by mixing together different ingredients that are rubbed into your chicken, steak, pork or other meat.

As most people associate pollen with spring allergies, you may not have expected to see it in a list explaining how to cook with spices. However, wild crafted pollens have been used in recipes for generations and are now a favorite ingredient of a number of prominent chefs. This is because pollens, which are available in the form of fennel pollen and dill pollen, are the most potent form of their herbs, offering the maximum amount of flavor. Moreover, they can be used like any other dried spice, added during cooking or used as a dry rub, although you likely won't need as much as you would with other spices; the taste is strong. This ingredient is fun to experiment with: use it in breads, meat and fish dishes, salads, even unique desserts.

Have you used any of these techniques for herbs and spices before? What is your favorite way to use these ingredients? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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