When to Use Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herbs
What will cooking taste like without a variety of flavors to add to it? They say variety is the spice of life. And that is just what herbs give us – a myriad of flavors. From vegetable salads to fried rice, soups, sauces, and pastries, herbs add that little touch of magic to cooking. Herbs can either be used when freshly dug, or allowed to dry. There have been several questions concerning when to use which. Fresh herbs or dried herbs? If you agree with many professional television chefs, you probably might be saying fresh herbs are better. But that is not always the case. Fresh herbs do add color and strong flavor to your cooking, but they are not always the ideal choice. There are some recipes that taste better with dried herbs instead of fresh ones. Plus, for those who do not grow herbs at home, it is quite expensive to buy a bunch of fresh herbs only to use a pinch. The rest of the unused herbs are gotten rid off because they go bad quickly. Some just go bad. For some dishes, fresh herbs are irreplaceable. But for other dishes, dried herbs do the trick.
What Are Fresh And Dried Herbs?
- What Are Fresh Herbs? Fresh herbs are plants with leaves, flowers or seeds and do not have woody stems. They are called fresh because, well, they have not been allowed to dry out. Fresh herbs are used for cooking to add flavor, color, and taste. They are also used for medicinal purposes. They can be planted at home or bought. There are several types of fresh herbs when it comes to cooking. Some have a peppery flavor, some are soapy, others are minty, strong-flavored or even spicy. They come in several shapes and forms: from spiky, slender, to flat leaves. Some types of fresh herbs are sage, chives, oregano, dills, thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, and parsley.
- What Are Dried Herbs? Just like fresh herbs, dried herbs are plants with leaves, seeds or flowers that are used to add taste, color, and flavor to dishes. They are also used to make medicines and perfumes. The only difference between dried herbs and fresh herbs is (you guessed right), dried herbs are allowed to dry out. The types of dried herbs are just the same fresh herbs allowed to dry out. A few additions are tarragon and kasoori methi.
When To Use Fresh Herbs
For most people, fresh herbs are best used to finish a dish. They have the most magical touch when used in raw dishes like tossed vegetable salad. Fresh herbs like tarragon and basil are most preferred. Freshly chopped herbs like cilantro leaves can do wonders to a dish of guacamole. Fresh parsley can also be added at the end of a cream sauce to ramp up the taste and add brightness to the color. This is something that dried herbs cannot offer – add bright color to your cooking. Furthermore, fresh herbs like chives, parsley, and tarragon are leafy and delicate. This means that they can easily lose their distinctive flavor and taste when they dry out. Thus, they should be avoided when this happens.
Aside from using them raw in meals, they can also be cooked, but only for a few minutes. That is why they should only be added to cooked dishes at the end of the cooking. One advantage fresh herbs have over dried herbs is that they not need too much time to infuse with the cooking. One disadvantage of these fresh herbs is the fact that most people do not use them when they dry out. If you have your own herb garden, this is a luxury you can afford. During winter times especially, fresh herbs become rare and expensive. They are also not best stored in refrigerators.
When To Use Dried Herbs
Dried herbs are ideal when they are added earlier in the cooking project. This gives them enough time to infuse their flavor into the cooking. Depending on the dish you are preparing, dried herbs are a better option compared to the fresh ones as long as they are added early enough to infuse with the dish. Otherwise, added too late, all you might have is a dusty meal with a flavor which is not good enough. That is why they are most ideal in soups that will be allowed to boil on the stove for some minutes. Also, dried herbs can be used in stews and sauces that will require some bubbling time to give them a nice flavor.
One advantage dried herbs have is this: after cooking with them for ten to fifteen minutes, they begin to taste fresh again. This is because the oils that are considered volatile and ester are able to cook away. Another advantage dried herbs have over the fresh ones is shelf life. They are thus a cheaper option. This is because dried herbs retain their flavor just fine. However, over a long time, they do lose their potency. They should be gotten rid of after a year. Some dried herbs to have in your kitchen are thyme, oregano, curry leaf, marjoram, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, savory, and, fennel seed.
You may want to substitute fresh herbs for dried ones because of unavailability. You might also be wondering if you can use both dried and fresh herbs in the same dish. Both are perfectly fine as long as you do it correctly. If you are trying to use dried herbs in place of fresh ones, you have to use a smaller quantity than you would use with fresh herbs. This is because dried herbs have a concentrated flavor which can add some bitterness to your dish when overused. The same rule applies vice versa. If you are using fresh herbs instead of dried ones, use more. For example, if a recipe requires a tablespoon of fresh thyme, use a teaspoon of dried thyme. The same rule applies in reverse. If you want to use both dried and fresh herbs in the same recipe, always make sure to infuse the dried herbs during the cooking and add the fresh ones at the end.
In conclusion, it is safe to stick with what a particular recipe requires. If it requires the use of fresh herbs, use those. Some recipes cannot have dried herbs as a substitute for fresh herbs. You may mess up the taste and flavor of your dish. There are some recipes that allow you to substitute or combine. When preparing such dishes, always remember that dried herbs have more potency than fresh herbs. A simple rule to remember is, one part of dried herbs is equal to three parts of fresh herbs.