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Fresh vs. Dried Herbs

by Mark-John Clifford 7 months ago in how to
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When and where to use each

Fresh vs. Dried Herbs
Photo by Tone Høines on Unsplash

When it comes to using herbs, there is no right or wrong way of using them, no matter what's written. It all depends on the chef and what they want out of their dish.

I know there will be a ton of professional and home chefs that will disagree with the statement above. Still, after talking with many professional and home chefs, I've realized that it's about the chef, nothing else.

True, there are some guidelines that you can follow, and we'll talk about them here, but in the end, you are the chef, no one else, and you need to decide the flavor or aroma you're looking for with your recipe.

Fresh Herbs (Soft)

Basil

Parsley

Cilantro

By Angèle Kamp on Unsplash

Tarragon

Fennel

Chives

This is a partial list. These are what experts call soft herbs, and they are usually used when making a salad and are also not traditionally cooked.

This doesn't mean you can't throw in some fresh basil when cooking but do so at the end of the cook, not at the very beginning; otherwise, the herb loses its flavor.

When cooking, you can use both soft and hard herbs mixed, so you get the optimum results in flavor and aroma. Just be careful of the amounts of each used.

Hard Herbs

Rosemary

Thyme

Marjoram

By Calum Lewis on Unsplash

Oregano

Dill

Bay Leaves

Sage

Mint

Hard herbs have a more robust flavor when added to your cooking without losing flavor or aroma. They tend to stand up to heat well and, when mixed with a bit of fresh herbs, make for a delicious recipe to serve your family and friends.

Many herbs are better fresh, and more delicate herbs lose their flavor when dried when it comes to herbs. If cooking with delicate herbs like parsley, tarragon, cilantro, chives, mint, and dill, it is recommended to use them fresh.

It is standard to reduce the amount of dried herbs versus soft herbs when swapping them in cooking. For example, if the recipe calls for one tablespoon of basil, you would use roughly one teaspoon of dried basil. Again though, this is totally up to you and what you're looking for in taste.

Fresh herbs are a great and exciting way to take some of your favorite dishes to the next level. Fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process or using them to garnish a meal before serving adds a delicious depth of flavor to a recipe, especially in salads.

Patti isn't a fan of vinegar as I am, so I've come up with a dressing recipe that uses dried and fresh herbs to give it the most flavorful dressing I can get without the addition of vinegar. I usually add a squeezed orange, lemon, and or lime to the salad mix after applying the herbs that I am using.

I use a mix of dried and fresh basil, dried rosemary and thyme, Italian seasoning, salt, lemon pepper, crushed red pepper, onion, and garlic powder. Once they have all been added to the salad mix, I squeeze one or two oranges, possibly lemon or lime, into the mix and then toss it.

This makes for a fresh-tasting, plus with the added flavor of the fresh oranges, lemons, and or lime, it adds the right balance of acid for the taste buds.

By Nia Ramirez on Unsplash

While they can be enjoyed fresh, hard herbs taste best when cooked into the meal they're flavoring. Soft herbs like basil and parsley often have a lighter flavor and are best enjoyed raw when added to salads or when stirred into cooked dishes.

Again, in the end, you're the chef, and it's your decision how and when you use hard or soft herbs. The guidelines above are just guidelines, Use your own judgement, but most of all, taste your recipe while cooking rather than measuring. You'll thank me for that bit of advice later.

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About the author

Mark-John Clifford

Family comes first. I love to cook or bake, mainly bread, and sometimes think I'm good at both. I was born in Catania, Sicily, then lived on the east coast for most of my life, till I moved to California.

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