Building Flavor with Spices and Herbs

This is an excerpt from Food & Beverage Insider – February 2021, Frozen ready-to-eat foods: A world of opportunity written by Cindy Hazen with comments by Corporate Chef Scott Adair and Marketing Director Peggy Castaldi. 

Although no one-size solution exists, many applications start with garlic and onions as the base for flavor. SupHerb Farms has garlicroasted garlic, and black garlic in a variety of sizes, cuts, and purees to fit any application and desired flavor profile.

Black garlic, the company’s chef Scott Adair explained in a YouTube video, is garlic that has been slow-cooked at low temperature with low humidity control for six to eight weeks. “During this cooking time, the garlic starts to ferment. The fermentation causes the garlic to become soft, brown, and then this great black color,” he shared. This is the Maillard reaction taking place, the reaction between amino acids and sugars during the heating process.

“As the garlic cooks down, it changes the flavor and texture of the product. It’s completely different in flavor than the garlic as it started. It’s much more full of umami notes, figs, a little tamarind, and balsamic vinegar. Just really beautiful, intense flavors. And it’s also full of antioxidants. The Asians have been using it in their medicines and cuisines for thousands of years,” he said.

SupHerb Farms offers the product frozen with a freezer-held two-year shelf life and a 21-day shelf life in the refrigerator. The product can be thawed, used, and put back in the freezer again. It can be used in pizza. He also suggested using the black garlic puree in soups (such as a mushroom soup), stir-fries, pasta dough, or to flavor Asian noodles (check out our blog Gothic Versatility: Black Garlic Four Ways – SupHerb Farms).

Versatility - Black Garlic Purée

Castaldi noted ingredients such as ginger gaining popularity due to the growth of Asian and Asian-fusion frozen foods. “And, due to their functional benefits, turmeric and cauliflower are trending. The most popular herbs continue to be basilcilantro, and parsley. While the most popular herbs continue to trend on menus in various applications, ethnic herbs such as hoja santa [known as Piper auritum or Mexican pepperleaf], culantro [Eryngium foetidum or sawtooth coriander], perilla [Perilla frutescens, also known as shiso], and Vietnamese coriander [Persicaria odorata or laksa leaf] are in the first stage (inception) of the ingredient life cycle,” she said.

As many herbs have been around for centuries, one might think they never trend. However, Castaldi disagreed. “Just as trends in fashion pop up again after years or even decades, so do herb trends. For example, use of mint is up 15.9% YOY (year over year) on proteins at chain restaurants, while menu incidence of thyme on pizza is up 40.9% YOY at independent restaurants,” she said, citing a proprietary 2020 Technomic report.

Unlike the days of old when herbs were dried to help sustain people through harsh winters, today’s IQF process locks in unparalleled flavor. SupHerb Farms sells acidified and non- acidified purees, allowing manufacturers a choice based on manufacturing and flavor needs.

“The beauty of a puree is twofold: the convenience and year-round fresh flavor,” Castaldi explained. “Usage will vary depending on batch size and desired flavor profile. In terms of usage level, frozen purees are used on a 1:1 basis. You would add the same amount of frozen puree as you would fresh puree.”

Application ideas include a pesto flatbread or Mediterranean power bowl using fresh basil puree, a ginger cilantro sesame stir fry incorporating ginger puree, or a minced sausage mix flavored with purees of garlic and lemongrass.

Besides purees, pastes are an option. “There is no limit other than your imagination and culinary creativity,” Castaldi stated. “They can be used in traditional or innovative dishes; in ethnic or American dishes; in frozen appetizers, vegetables, sides, entrees, and even desserts. They are extremely versatile products.” For example, she said the company’s Tuscan Tomato culinary paste is often used on proteins and pizzas, and that pastes can be customized to create signature items.

Add unique global flavor across five menu items with one versatile ingredient.