As you become familiar with my recipes you will notice many of them call for dried herbs. I believe dried is the most economical way to introduce flavor into my dishes. Fresh herbs purchased at the local grocery store, or produce market can cost $2.99 or more per package. Not only is fresh expensive, the shelf life is very short and I end up wasting them.
I must say, many varieties of dried herbs are more potent than
their fresh counterpart, as fresh herbs contain much water. The drying process
removes the water and concentrates the flavor. The dried vs. fresh substitution
can vary from herb to herb, and whether it is ground or crushed. The general
ratio is 1 to 3
(e.g. 1 teaspoon dried herb to 3 teaspoons fresh herb).
Herbs and spices should be stored in an airtight
container, away from heat and moisture. Herbs can be stored in the refrigerator,
where they will retain their flavor for a longer period of time. The
recommended length of storage is up to 12 months. To judge the freshness of
your dried herbs just place a small amount in the palm of your hand and rub
with your fingers to crush. The aroma should be quite fragrant and not dull.
Generally speaking, I find that the flavor of dried
herbs holds up better in salad dressings that will be stored in the
refrigerator, in marinades and rubs, and in sauces that will cook for a while.
I will use fresh herbs to finish a dish, in a quick pan sauces and other quick
dishes, or where the cooking process will not diminish their flavor. My
favorite fresh herbs are parsley, cilantro, mint and rosemary.
Purchasing good quality spices and herbs is key. You can stretch your dollar and boost the
flavor profile of your food. I purchase most of my herbs and spices from a
local spice store. The spices I purchase
contain no stabilizers or anti-caking agents, just pure spice. To maximize the savings, I buy herbs and
spices in bulk size packets, usually 4 to 8 ounce packets, and transfer to spice
jars as needed.