CHEF DEZ ON COOKING – Herbs: Fresh or Dried?

Dried herbs are suitable for certain recipes, however there are many recipes that benefit from fresh

Many consumers, without herb gardens of their own, will choose to purchase dried herbs more frequently than fresh due to cost and convenience. Dried herbs are suitable for certain recipe applications, however there are just as many recipes that would benefit from fresh. Consequently, other than listening to your wallet, how should one discriminate choosing between them?

Although fresh herbs seem to offer the most flavour, they are not a necessity for all recipes. Dried herbs need time and moisture to release their flavours, and therefore are adequate in dishes that require a certain amount of cooking time to allow for this re-hydration. Examples of these recipes would be ones such as pasta sauce, chili, soups, or other stewed dishes. Fresh herbs can be used in these applications, but are better suited being added at the end of the cooking process, as they can lose their potency if cooked for too long

Many people also use dried herbs in marinades and compound butters. Compound butters are combinations of herbs, seasonings, and flavourings combined with butter to create finishing touches to certain dishes. Garlic butter, for example, is probably the most recognizable compound butter.

A large misconception with dried herbs, however, is that they last forever. They don’t. There are steps one can take to inhibit their deterioration like storing them in a cool dark place, but eventually they will lose their pungency.

Typically, I would suggest replacing dried herbs every eight to twelve months if stored properly. I have found that the bulk foods sections at the grocery stores are the best option for doing this economically. Get in the habit of only purchasing slightly more than what you need for a recipe. This will keep your home inventory low and your recipes tasting better.

Since the moisture (water content) has been removed from dried herbs, they are more potent (per measure) than fresh herbs. This is an important consideration when changing a recipe to accommodate the herbs you have on hand. The only herb, that this rule is not applicable to, is tarragon – it is more potent (per measure) in its fresh form

Given the choice to be stranded on a dessert island with either herb form, I would obviously pick fresh for its versatility, nutrients, and fresh flavour. However, it is important to understand that dried herbs, when used and stored correctly, can play a vital role in our kitchens.

Dear Chef Dez:

I was recently given some fresh basil and added it to a pasta sauce I was making. I didn’t notice much difference in flavour than using dried basil, in fact I noticed less. Is this right?

Margarette T.

Coquitlam, BC

Dear Margarette:

This depends on how much basil you added and when you added it. Most dried herbs are more potent in the dry form as the flavour intensity is higher without water content. Therefore you would need to add a larger measurement of fresh then you would dry.

When adding delicate fresh herbs, such as basil, do it at the end of the cooking process, about 30 seconds before serving. This will guarantee that the fresh flavours of the basil will be prevalent in your dish.

Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com

Write to him at dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.

Just Posted

New City of Lacombe public art unveiled at Encore Art Show and Sale

Trent Leach created his ode to the Gretsch 1620 and the Lacombe music scene

WATCH: ‘Battle of the Badges’ event raises money for Humboldt Broncos

Red Deerians get together at charity hockey tournament April 20th at Servus Arena

WATCH: Second annual Our Best To You Craft Sale on now

Red Deerians can expect over 150 artisans, makers and designers

Buccaneers looking to loot a national championship

Footballers look to ride high octane offense to the finals

Central Alberta Theatre is gearing up to present Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s)

Opening night is April 20th with shows running through to May 5th.

WATCH: Central Albertan receives award for aiding RCMP officer in arrest

Lonnie Amundson, rugby player, tackled a fleeing suspect to help ailing officer

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Trudeau ends 3-country tour with global reputation, alliances intact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds footing on the world stage after China and India controversies

Leafs’ Matthews has top-selling jersey, edging Crosby, McDavid: NHL

Austin Matthews jersey sales top Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid

Victims grant may miss needy parents due to eligibility rules: report

Only 29 of 50 applicants between 2013 and 2017 received the grant across Canada, a federal report says

Three suspects charged with 38 crimes after Wetaskiwin carjacking

RCMP Rural Crime Reduction Project starts strong in Wetaskiwin

4-20: Pot activists continue their fight beyond legalization

Cannabis activists say there is still a lot to fight for beyond legalization

Comey memos: Trump talks of jailed journalists and ‘hookers’

A 15 page document written by former FBI Director James Comey about dealings with Trump is released to press

UPDATED: Prince Charles to be next Commonwealth leader

Prince Charles to succeed his mother Queen Elizabeth II as head of the 53-nation alliance

Most Read