Jun 23, 2012
All Dried Out: Using Dried Herbs
By Chef Souk
Few things can add instant flavor to a dish without adding any added fat and/or calories like fresh herbs. Rosemary tastes wonderful on roasted potatoes. Sage and stuffing are a classic combination. Thyme and lemon stuffed chicken is nothing short of amazing. But what about those times you don’t have fresh herbs, or live in a climate where they only grow a precious few months out of the year? It’s “thyme” to pull out the dried spices.
Dried spices tend to get a bad rep. Since they don’t have the aroma of fresh herbs many people assume they don’t have the flavor. To the contrary, they are actually stronger. The general rule of thumb is to use 1/3 of the amount of dried herbs than you would fresh herbs. It’s also a good idea to grind them up a bit to release their oils. One way is to take all the herbs a recipe calls for and putting them in a food processor for a few seconds. This will grind them up and release all of their flavors and oils.
There are a few exceptions of course. You couldn’t make something like pesto with dried basil. It just wouldn’t work. And truth be told fresh herbs give a kick that dried herbs have a hard time replicating. However, fresh herbs are also extremely easy to grow and most grow plentifully once they’ve taken to the soil. It’s a great way to save money and add a wonderful fragrance to your kitchen with big bouquets of fresh cut herbs in vases, similar to what you would do with fresh cut flowers.
One word of wisdom – make sure your dried herbs aren’t too old. It’s all to easy to let them sit on the shelf for eons only to find their potency greatly diminished when you go to use them. You can also make your own dried herbs but that’s another story. Maybe next weeks, stay tuned.
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