For those of us who love cooking, fresh herbs are definitely more fragrant and often more flavourful than their dried counterpart. But due to seasonality, growth regions, and how quickly most herbs will decay after being harvested, sometimes the backup plan can be just as satisfactory.
The culinary artist from Granny Mouse Country House & Spa sheds some light on this. “It can be an issue sometimes when you cannot find the fresh option, and with dried herbs being readily available all year-round, and if you use and store it correctly, it does definitely contribute loads of flavour to the dishes they are incorporated into.”
When used appropriately, dried herbs can be your secret weapon to making a dish that is seriously full of flavour. Dried herbs are an underrated resource. They’re inexpensive, versatile, and have a much lengthier shelf life than their fresh counterparts. The most important thing to know is how and when to use them.
A really good way to use dried herbs is when making salad dressings and infusing cooking oils, which gives it a whole new flavour.
They also work really well in stews, which take a longer cooking process and do provide a strong full-bodied flavour to the meal.
Another winning way is on pizza. Sprinkle before cooking and, if you have on hand, add the fresh herbs before serving.
Herbs such as oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and sage are best added at the beginning of the cooking process, so they have time to extract the oils, allowing flavours to develop.
Dried herbs are great to use when budgeting. And if you suddenly find yourself in the kitchen, determined to try a new recipe and you don’t have fresh herbs, you have plan B in place with the dried herbs stocked in the cupboard.
Herbs don’t need refrigeration but remember to keep them in a cool dry spot away from the moisture and light, as the sunlight degrades the potency, so best kept in the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Storage containers should preferably be made from glass and keep away from the stove.
Further tips, when using dried herbs…don’t just empty half the bottle into the cooking process. If substituting dried for fresh herbs, use around 1/2 of the amount called for in the recipes. So, in actual fact you use less dried herbs than fresh when using a recipe.
So, get your spice and herb rack stocked with the basics – dried rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme. They’ll last for months and a little goes a long way.
But don’t forget to keep the fresh herbs on your shopping list for the weekly meals too.
For more tips & tricks into the world of herbs & spices – go to www.grannymouse.co.za