Do you ever make a recipe and feel like it is lacking just a little bit of flavor? It could be something as simple as the timing of adding herbs and spices. The ingredients are important in a recipe, but how long you cook them also makes a difference in developing the right flavor. Here are some simple tricks to ensure you get the best flavor when cooking.
Salt your food before cooking. According to Cooks Illustrated, adding salt at the beginning of cooking gives it time to migrate into the pieces of food, seasoning them throughout. This allows for the best flavor. If you only salt your food at the end the exterior of the food will taste too salty while the interior is still bland.
Add fresh herbs at the end. Unlike salt, fresh herbs are best used at the end of cooking for finishing off a dish. Sprinkle fresh cilantro or thyme onto a soup just before it is served. Or try adding fresh basil ribbons to chicken, pasta, or pizza. Fresh herbs lose their vibrant flavor and delicate texture during cooking so it is better to save them for the end. Fresh herbs can be one of the more expensive items to buy, especially if you are only going to use them once. If you can, I recommend buying a couple of fresh herb plants that you can either keep inside or plant in a garden. I grow fresh basil and mint at my house and I am delighted anytime I get to add fresh basil to my sandwich or mint to a fruit salad.
Don’t refrigerate these foods! Certain foods really are not meant to be refrigerated, especially if you want them to retain their best flavor. I know refrigerating tomatoes to prevent spoilage is temping, but please don’t! The cold temperature breaks down the tomato’s membranes turning it mealy and flavorless. Store tomatoes out on your counter at room temperature. Other foods that shouldn’t be stored in the fridge include basil, potatoes, onions, avocado and garlic. If you want to keep bread for longer, freeze it, don’t refrigerate.
Shorter is Better for Vegetables. Unless you are roasting them, vegetables should be cooked for as short a time as possible to retain nutrients and flavor. If you boil vegetables for too long they will turn an unappealing color, become soft and develop a bad flavor. Most vegetables can be boiled in 10 minutes or less, with the exception of heartier veggies like potatoes, artichokes, or beets. In order to stop the veggie from overcooking and losing color, throw them in ice water after cooking, and reheat briefly right before serving.
Do you have any unique kitchen hacks to help get the best flavor when cooking? Add them to the list in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.