Whether you plant them or pick them up at the grocery store or farmers’ market, adding fresh herbs is a quick way to transform ordinary meals into extraordinary meals.
Besides helping flavor foods when cutting back on salt, fat and sugar, herbs may offer additional benefits of their own. Researchers are finding many culinary herbs (both fresh and dried) have antioxidants that may help protect against such diseases as cancer and heart disease.
When Substituting Fresh Herbs for Dried Herbs
A general guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use of a dried herb. When substituting, you’ll often be more successful sub- stituting fresh herbs for dried herbs, rather than the other way around.
When to Pick or Purchase Herbs
Purchase herbs close to the time you plan to use them. When growing herbs in your own garden the ideal time for picking is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps ensure the best flavor and storage quality.
How to Store Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper
drawer for a few days. If you don’t have access to commercial perforated bags, use a sharp object to make several small holes in a regular plastic bag.
If you have more herbs than you can eat, enjoy herbal bouquets throughout your home. You can use either single herbs, combinations of herbs or you can use the herbs as greenery mixed in with other flowers. To help preserve the aroma and color of your herb bouquets, place them out of direct sunlight.
When to Add Herbs During Food Preparation
Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor. Add the more delicate herbs — basil, chives, cilantro, dill leaves, parsley, marjoram and mint — a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle them on the food before it’s served. The less delicate herbs, such as dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Obviously, for some foods, such as breads, batters, etc., you’ll need to add herbs at the beginning of the cooking process.
“Herb” or “erb”?
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not to pronounce the “h” in “herb,” the answer is: In Great Britain, the “h” is pronounced; in the United States, it’s pronounced “erb”