How to Cook with Fresh and Dried Herbs
Plus, learn how to substitute one for the other.
Fresh or dried, herbs can add flavor, color, and aroma to any dish, instantly elevating it from ordinary to extraordinary. When cooking with herbs, there is a general rule of thumb to keep in mind regarding the ratio of fresh to dry: Because dried herbs are often more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you need less. That means the correct ratio is one tablespoon of fresh herbs to one teaspoon of dried herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only one teaspoon of dried oregano. The same goes for basil, dill, parsley, and any other herb that you fancy. When cooking, it's always easier to add more flavor than it is to take it away, so taste as you go to make sure the dish is properly seasoned. Below, we're sharing how to properly store herbs, plus our favorite ways to cook with the most common varieties.
How to Store Herbs
Hearty fresh cut herbs such as rosemary or thyme should be wrapped in a damp paper towel, stored in resealable plastic bags, and then put into the refrigerator. Delicate fresh herbs such as mint or basil should be stored in a glass with one inch of water (much like flowers), covered with a plastic bag, and left at room temperature.
Dried herbs should be stored out of the light and in a cool, dry place. Keep an eye on how long your herbs have been open—if they've been open for too long, they'll smell and taste less potent. Note the date that you open the container of dried herbs to make it easier to distinguish if they're still usable.
Cooking with Rosemary
The sprigs of this Mediterranean herb are known for their woody fragrance and are delicious when used on meats, especially barbecued meats. In fact, their fragrance is so appealing that you can hold rosemary sprigs over burning coals on your barbecue to infuse your meats with their distinct flavor. In addition to being an aromatic ingredient, rosemary also has antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, so they can be natural healers, too. Some of our favorite recipes that use this earthy herb are Fougasse with Rosemary and Seeds, Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak With Peppers and Onions, Tuscan Ribs, and even this delicious Victory Garden Cocktail.
Cooking with Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are often used whole in soups, stews, and sauces. They have a dark, floral scent and should be used sparingly, as their flavor goes a long way. For this reason, they're often used in curries, too. Some of our favorite recipes using bay leaves include Olive-Oil-Fried Potatoes with Aioli, Quick-Brined Corned Beef and Vegetables, Pink Grapefruit-White Cranberry Sparkling Punch, and a spectacular holiday Citrus-Roasted Heritage Turkey.
Cooking with Basil
Fresh basil is known for its aromatic appeal, particularly in Italian cuisine. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto, and is often used to add fresh flavor to dishes ranging from sauces to fish. Some of our favorite recipes include this sweetened Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelèe, Turkey-Pesto Meatball Soup, and Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice.