Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.
Fresh or Dried?
by Sandra Bowens
The recipe calls for fresh dill but all you have on hand is dried. Is there a big difference? How do you substitute?
When to use fresh
Certain recipes such as pesto or tabbouleh require fresh herbs as the central component of the dish. You wouldn't want to use dried basil in the classic Italian salad that layers mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves. Other recipes may be enhanced by fresh herbs but you could still get similar results using a dried version. A salad dressing where the dried herbs would become saturated is a good example.
Making the change
Essential oils are more concentrated in dried herbs so you use less. If you want to substitute dried herbs in a recipe that calls for fresh, the conversion is simple. Reduce tablespoons to teaspoons; two Tablespoons of fresh oregano equals two teaspoons dried.
Ginger is an exception to this interchangeable rule. If a recipe calls for fresh ginger, you cannot substitute ground. The flavors are completely different.
Meet in the middle
You can perk up the flavor of a dried herb by combining it with common fresh parsley. Pick the parsley leaves from the stems, sprinkle with the required amount of dried herbs and chop the parsley fine. This breathes life into the dried product and adding parsley couldn't hurt any dish.
Use them up!
Fresh herbs are expensive. What if you buy a bunch of thyme but your recipe only calls for a tablespoon? Don't let the remainder go to waste. Use a few sprigs as a garnish to the finished recipe. Tie some sprigs together and use them as a basting brush or toss them into a soup. Drop the extra herbs into a mild oil or vinegar to make infusions for later cooking.
If you can find no other use for the fresh herbs before they go bad, hang a bundle upside down and make dried herbs. Only problem here, you will have to make the decision again the next time, fresh or dried.
Here's one that's full of our favorite recipes because we wrote the book! It is also full of information, helpful hints and ideas for using herbs and spices in your kitchen.