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When and How to Use Dried Herbs

Author: Ellen Ratsoeu
by Ellen Ratsoeu
Posted: Nov 05, 2016

You guessed it – dried herbs render a different taste from fresh herbs. The secret to knowing which type of herbs to use, is in understanding how the two types differ in the way they add taste and aroma to the food.

So here's the secret: Dried herbs need time to infuse the food with its taste and aroma. This means they cannot be added towards the end of the cooking process instead, they should be added in the middle. At this stage the lid should ideally be fully or depending on the nature of dish being prepared, half-cover the utensil. This allows the aroma to infuse the food being cooked. For example, if you're cooking a soup, stir in the dried herbs just before you add the liquid. Allow everything simmer for a while.

If the dried herb did not perform as expected, you need to revisit the recipe and look at the Spices Quality you were supposed to use. That said, a large part also depends on the quality of the dried herb. If you open a packet of dried herbs and can’t smell the aroma, then it is probably too old. These are not worth using. But if you have no option, use 3 times as much.

The woody herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary all tend retain their flavour for a long time. Chives, basil and other tender, soft herbs tend to lose much of their aroma when dried so ideally, these should be used fresh.

As you might have guessed, if dried herbs should be used in the middle of the cooking process, fresh herbs should be used towards the end. For example, you can add Thyme or Basil when the dish is almost ready. Fresh herbs release flavours the moment they are cut. Which is why they should be added last just before you serve the dish. Fresh herbs are best used in salads, sauces and dressings and other quick dishes.

If you want to add intense aroma to any dish, go for fresh herbs – they bring an aromatic intensity to the dish that dried herbs can never hope to match. Use fresh herbs for celebrations – the bright, vibrant flavours of fresh herbs makes the occasion special and memorable.

How to substitute dried and fresh herbs.

It can happen that sometimes you don't have fresh herbs. So here's the trick of substituting dried for fresh; if the aroma is strong, use less of dried herbs and use them either at the beginning or in the middle of the cooking process.

The general rule of thumb is to use 1 1/2 times the amount of fresh Herbs as you would dry herbs. But remember the timing – dried herbs to be put in the beginning or in the middle of the cooking process. Dried herbs require at least 10 minutes to infuse the dish. Fresh herbs will add instant flavour.

You can add fresh and dried herbs too. You can do this to either perk up the flavours or to add a dash of contrasting flavour. You will need to experiment to figure out the combinations and quantities

About the Author

I love cooking and experimenting with dishes from a variety of places. I believe herbs and spices can make such a big difference to a simple dish.

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Author: Ellen Ratsoeu

Ellen Ratsoeu

Flag of South Africa
South Africa

Member since: Jan 12, 2016
Total live articles: 9

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