The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

10:45 PM

Food Tip - Toasting Spices

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Toasting Spices

This is just a quick tip to help you get the most flavor out of your food.  Spices are something we use every day.  They allow us to take ordinary foods and make them extraordinary, or take flavorful foods and bring out the best of their flavors.
Spices have essential oils that impart flavor to your food.  Toasting the spices causes them to heat up, and creates a chemical reaction, releasing these oils,bringing out and intensifying the flavors they impart to your food.  Try toasting larger ingredients like whole spices (peppercorns, star anise, fennel, etc.), seeds (cumin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.), and nuts. 
What to do
Take a heavy pan, such as a cast iron skillet.  Over medium heat, toast the spices for a few minutes in the pan.  Toast the spices until they become fragrant and begin to darken in color.  If you are using dark spices, such as peppercorns or poppy seeds, be very careful that the spices do not burn, as it may be difficult to tell.  Also, be sure to stir any spices often, as many spices will burn easily.  Do not add any oil or butter to the pan; toast your spices dry.

If you are not planning on using the spices whole, after toasting, place the spices in a spice grinder or mortar, and grind them before adding to food.  The toasted spices will have a wonderful, powerful aroma, and will help bring out and accentuate the flavors of your dishes.

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