Herbs are a great way to elevate your dish, I like to refer to it as perfuming your meal.
Typically perfume is added to enhance our presence. Well…herbs are used in the same way. We add herbs to intensify our dish with aromatics, flavor, and color.
I’m a huge fan of fresh herbs, BUT some dishes call for dried herbs. For instance, in Marinara fresh Oregano, would taste very medicinal versus dried. On the other hand, dried Cilantro would be flavorless in Guacamole. Keep in mind, some herbs are universal, while others are cultural staples.
Fresh or Dried…That is the Question
Both fresh and dried herbs are essential when cooking, but they have different uses depending on the dish. Let’s discover the difference…
Dried herbs offer a much deeper and more concentrated flavor due to the dehydrating process. During dehydration, the water is removed from the herb, while the oils remain and seep into the crevices. Be sure to add your fresh herbs early on because their flavor needs time to develop.
Uses: Rubs, soups, stews, braises, and sauces.
Herbs: Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary.
Fresh herbs will give your dish a bright grassy flavor and a nice pop of color. Typically fresh herbs are used at the very end of your meal and or as you are plating.
Uses: Guacamole, pasta, risotto, pizza, tacos, salad, poultry, seafood, red meat, cocktails…the list goes on and on.
Herbs: Cilantro, Basil, Dill, Sage, Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Mint.
Ratio is Key
Depending on your location, some herbs may not be available year-round, in this case, dried herbs would be a great option. There is a rule of thumb when using dried instead of fresh because dried herbs are more potent.
Let’s do some quick math…I promise it’s not complicated!
There’s a 1:3 ratio when using dried vs. fresh. What that means is, for every one tablespoon of fresh herbs, you’re only going to need one teaspoon of dried herbs. There are three teaspoons in a tablespoon. SEE! I told you that wasn’t too complex.