By: Joanne K. Gardner, MS, RDN, LDN, Integrative Nutritionist, Duke Integrative Medicine
Herbs are always the leaves of plants. Many herb plants are “herbaceous” (non-woody) and the stems are tender and flavorful, but some herbs have tough woody stems. Mostly we use herbs for savory purposes in cooking, and when compared to spices, we tend to use them in larger quantities. Examples of herbs include rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill.
For some ideas on using a few of these herbs in your kitchen, check out our Seven Ways with Herbs Guide.
Spices are different parts of plants; they can be either roots/rhizomes, flowers, fruits, seeds, or bark. They tend to be more potent, so we tend to use them in relatively smaller quantities. However, this always varies by recipe and by cuisine. Examples of spices include peppercorns (fruit/seed), paprika (fruit), cinnamon (bark), cumin, coriander and nutmeg (seeds), clove (flower bud), and ginger and turmeric (rhizomes).
For some ideas on using a few of these spices in your kitchen, check out our Seven ways with Spices Guide.
Since herbs enhance flavor, you will be able to depend less on salt and add less salt to your recipes.
When do you add herbs and spices? It depends on the kind of herb or spice you are dealing with and the cooking time the recipe calls for.
Compared to whole spices, the flavor of ground spices is more concentrated; ground spices will infuse sauces with flavor quicker than whole spices.
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