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Herbs - Fresh versus dried


ElsieD
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I realize that fresh herbs are, in general, preferred over dried herbs. However, I don't necessarily want to buy fresh herbs when all I need is say, 10 leaves of basil and end up throwing the rest of the bunch out. So, my question is, which herbs are acceptable to use in dried form? I don't have a problem buying fresh herbs if it really makes a difference but it seems to me that in some instances, the dried version will do.

Thank you.

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I suppose alot of it can be just your own personal preference. Like you mentioned basil, if you think the dried tastes fine in whatever your doing, then thats good, but the dried and fresh herbs are totally different. I dont think fresh basil resembles dried basil at all. I guess whats stumping me is what you say 'acceptable,' because you can get any herb in a dried form, it just depends on your personal taste.

Personally, I really hate dried rosemary, especially if its on meat. It just doesn't taste very nice and feel like I'm eating bark. I dont mind dried thyme, usually I'll infuse a vinaigrette with it and strain it, but fresh thyme is always better, in my opinion. Dried oregano seems to be something I use more then fresh, I enjoy the taste, but sometimes it can get overused. Then there's other things like mint, dried mint tastes nothing like fresh mint, if you were to infuse both in cream for a custard or ice cream, they would taste noticeably different, I'll always prefer fresh mint for everything. Then there's dill weed, which tastes like absolutely nothing, it sure looks pretty mixed into something like a chicken or potato salad, but doesn't seem to contribute much to flavor, fresh dill tastes nothing like its dried counterpart. I think theres just some things your going to have to try, everyone's opinion will be different, I think if it wasn't 'acceptable' to many, it wouldnt be on the store shelf.

And leftover fresh basil should never be a problem, could put it on your eggs, grilled cheese, make a pesto with it and perhaps add some cilantro, add it to fresh pasta/bread dough, use stems for an infused oil and make a vinaigrette with it, etc.

Hope that helps and its not just me ranting.

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Well, there are gadgets like the herb-savor, which I've considered getting, but keep procrastinating on, partly because of the corny name. I've heard they work well.

For herbs that I have to have fresh, I buy the little plants, which give me more time in which to use them.

But the fresh v. dried herb decision mostly comes down to personal preferences (e.g. personally, I dislike dried basil, and find that it acquires a weird bubblegum note; I don't love the texture, either).

Also, some herbs change flavour significantly when they dry, so that the fresh and dry versions seem like two different herbs.

Finally, there can be a massive difference in quality from one brand of dried herbs to another, so if and when you do get dried herbs, don't be discouraged by initial less-than-fantastic results (I've had good results from Penzeys, but occasionally, cheap supermarket brands have been terrific).

The bottom line is that you're going to have to do a little experimenting and research, if you want conclusions that really satisfy you. Someone else's tastes are just not going be that much help.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I love fresh herbs and usually have pots covering my back deck in the summer. In the winter I tend to use more dried herbs and in fact I prefer my own homegrown herbs tha I dry in fall , to storebought fresh. I do prefer storebought fresh over storebought dried though. At the end of the day it is about what your personal preference is.

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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As Mjx notes, many of these herbs are easy to grow, with basil being particularly easy I think, if you can make sure it's getting enough sunlight. I like to have 3-4 basil plants during the warm months and make a big batch of pesto every couple of weeks or so, to freeze.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Minas, if dried dill has no flavour, where are you getting your dried dill?!?!? I grow my own and sundry it for applications where fresh dill would be overpowering, and it's still very flavourful.

I agree with MJX - you'll have to experiment and see. Fresh oregano, for example, can be quite a bit weaker of flavour than dried, and powdered herbs are different again. Basil is something that I believe should always be used fresh, but I keep dried in the cupboard as well for those rare times when the flavour of dried (which is sweeter and less ammoniac) is necessary in a dish (there are a couple of curries that need dried basil).

And I'm also confused at how anybody could have fresh basil going bad in the fridge. I put it in almost everything!

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I freeze all my fresh herbs that I don't use immediately . Afterwards, they are worthless for salads but perfectly fine for using in sauces. My red sauce virtually always has frozen basil in it as I save my fresh for things like caprese. If you vacuum pack the herbs before you freeze them, I've found that they keep for 6 months or more.

I also agree with the above sentiment that all dried herbs are not created equal.

Edited to add: vacuum packing

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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Minas, if dried dill has no flavour, where are you getting your dried dill?!?!? I grow my own and sundry it for applications where fresh dill would be overpowering, and it's still very flavourful.

I just got a bottle of dried dill a long time back, was not impressed with it, and have used it seldom since, obviously what you have would be of much better quality, who knows how long it was sitting in the jar before I bought it.

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Thanks so much for all your comments. I do grow rosemary, thyme and bay leaf all year. They go outside in the summer and sit inside in a south facing windowsill in the winter. I recently placed and received an order from Penzeys and included in that order was dried cilantro. That, I found out, has nothing to recommend it. Dried cilantro is completely tasteless. We love cilantro and usually use it all up. I have tried to grow it in a pot using "pot cilantro" seeds but it refused to grow. Anyway, after the disappointing cilantro, I wondered what other herbs would also prove to be disappointing. Hence this post. I know dried parsley is pretty useless and did not get any. I know for you basil lovers it must be hard to understand why someone doesn't use their basil up but, GASP! we simply aren't In love with it. Cilantro yes, basil, no.

I have purchased the small pots of basil but they usually die on me after I have clipped a bit off. I do leave the bottom leaves on when I trim them which is what I have been told to do. I have a vacuum sealer so will try freezing some of the herbs when it becomes obvious that they will not get used up before they go bad.

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Other than dill, it seems, and I have always felt, that the oily herbs tend to be the only ones that are useful in a dry state. In my experience that includes rosemary, oregano, lavender, bay, and the like. The softies like parsley, cilantro, and basil shine when freshly picked.

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I have purchased the small pots of basil but they usually die on me after I have clipped a bit off. I do leave the bottom leaves on when I trim them which is what I have been told to do. I have a vacuum sealer so will try freezing some of the herbs when it becomes obvious that they will not get used up before they go bad.

I have also purchased small pots of basil - from the supermarket produce (not floral) section, and the potted plants from the nursery. In my experience, the plants survive longer when re-potted with more soil. As for the cilantro not growing, that particular herb prefers cool climate, so if you try again, move to a bright but not south-facing window :)

Herbs which we used dried here include: garlic, ginger, sweet basil, oregano, savory, dill, thyme, bay leaf, marjoram. I also use all of those in the fresh form, but in different applications.

Karen Dar Woon

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Oh, completely forgot about thyme and marjoram: add those to my list, too. Cilantro is definitely not useful dried, when it gets hot here I let mine go to seed and harvest the coriander instead. It's the only herb I've got that is happier here in the winter than the summer!

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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To my taste, the herbs that are most useful dried are oregano, dill, and lavender. Sage is OK, but is better preserved in salt. Basil is a totally different beast, and I have never found a use for the dried stuff. Same for tarragon, chives, and parsley.

Dried herbs are great for making "Dry Rubs" to put over your meat or fish before cooking. Fresh herbs burn easier the dry herbs. There is a use for both Fresh and Dried herbs :-)

Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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as BAD RABBIT said, we harvest all the basil in the garden just before first frost,put it all in a FP

and pour some oilve oil in and lightly shred it,then off to the ice cube trays to freeze,and then vac pack the cubes in bags, and to the freezer,they last a long long time,,,

Bud

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I pretty much stick to oregano and savoury for dried herbs, although I keep meaning to get dried mint, which apparently has quite a different flavour to fresh. We had dried dill around a fair bit when I was a kid, and it does have a nice flavour.

After making this recipe a few years ago I really got into mixing different herbs and so now I tend to go a bit overboard when buying fresh herbs, and yes, they often get the better of me. But you *can* get back control! Use singly or mix a few different fresh ones and liberally:

  • sprinkle on boiled potatoes (plus butter, plain thick yoghurt or sour cream)
  • mix through egg noodles
  • put in an omelet (delicious if you make a thin one and put it on a soft roll with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and some chili sauce)
  • stir into zucchini or corn fritter batter
  • sprinkle over a plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumber and avocado with vinagrette dressing

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When I buy Thai basil the package always has way more than I need. So I vacuum seal and freeze the leftovers, dividing into "dish sized" portions. It turns black but it's perfectly fine in stir fries (I primarily use it for pad kee mao).

Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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