For many of my friends and family members, I am their ‘go-to’ personal chef. I often get several text messages and phone calls a day with a variety of cooking questions. One of the common questions from my friends and family members, as well as in the work that I do, is how to substitute dried herbs for fresh herbs.
I wrote the article below some time ago (for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table), answering just this question. Below are a few basic cooking tips on working with dried herbs. And don’t forget to check out the recipe links below for homemade dried herb blends!
Over the years there has been a constant war raging in the kitchen. Dried herbs verses fresh herbs. Which to use? Which is better? Does it matter?
Many chefs and home cooks alike, swear by the fact that fresh herbs are the only way to go. The pure, vibrant flavor that fresh herbs add to a dish, can take it from blah to amazing with very little effort. However, fresh herbs can be very expensive, go bad quickly, and during the winter months almost impossible to find.
Dried herbs are a great substitution for fresh herbs. They are convenient due to their year round availability, inexpensive, long-lasting, hold well in long cooking methods and add a more intense, concentrated flavor that fresh herbs do not.
To get the most out of dried herbs follow these simple tips:
• Use the 1 to 3 ratio. This conversion will easily convert recipes calling for fresh herbs for use with dried herbs. Basically one teaspoon dried herbs equals one tablespoon fresh herbs.
• Store properly. Dried herbs should be stored in a cool, dry place, avoiding direct light. Most dried herbs will last for at least a year if stored properly. For longer preservation, dried herbs can be stored in the freezer. A lack of aroma and flavor, as well as a faded color, is a sign that the dried herbs have started to go bad.
• Release the flavor. Before adding dried herbs to food, rub the herbs between your fingers or crush them using a grinder. This helps release the herb’s flavors and natural oils.
• On a tight budget? Building a well-stocked supply of dried herbs can be pricey. Start slow by purchasing herbs as needed. Another option is to purchase dried herb blends. Herbs de Provence or dried Italian seasoning, are flavorful dried herb mixes. These mixes contain a blend of different herbs and can be used in place of specific dried herbs called for in a recipe.
Many dried herb and spice blends can be made at home with common spice cabinet finds. Check out the following recipes to start making your own at home:
Homemade Taco Seasoning (Kitchen Concoctions)
Moroccan Spice Blend (The Clothes Make the Girl)
Greek Seasoning (Kitchen Concoctions)
Chinese 5 Spice Blend (Georgia Pellegrini)
Poultry Seasoning (Kitchen Concoctions)
Chai Spice Mix (Healthful Pursuit)
Israeli Spice Rub (Kitchen Concoctions)
Breakfast Sausage Spice Blend (Cooking for Seven)