Herbs fresh and dried
12:50 PM | Author: Atie
Whether you have your own herb garden or purchase your fresh herbs from the grocer or market, drying herbs is a great way to preserve them for later use. Drying herbs isn't a complicated procedure, and you don't need any special equipment or appliances to be successful.

Certain recipes 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.

There are two basic ways to dry fresh herbs: air drying and heat drying. Air drying takes longer, but results in a more flavorful product. Heat drying is quicker, but the addition of heat to the process can, in effect, cook the herb and cause it to loose some of its flavor. Both methods, however, result in aromatic dried herbs that can last up to two years if stored properly.

Dried bay leaf
Herbs are a great way to give the dish you are creating a more rounded and flavorful experience. Both herb types have a spot in my kitchen as their uses are different.

Dried herbs are great for cooking entree's that will take a longer time to cook. In a soup or on top of a roasting chicken or turkey for example. Where as fresh herbs would just burn on the chicken, dried will give a nice crispness and flavor. Some dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavor so a little goes a long way. Herbs like rosemary and oregano tend to be full flavor and can be over powering so always start with a little and add more as you see fit. Dried herbs keep best in a cool cabinet and usually last 4 to 6 months for the best flavors.

When creating dishes with just a few ingredients only the best and freshest should be used. With minimal ingredients, the ingredients are the "stars". This is when you want to use fresh herbs. The sweet lemony, earthy, anise flavor of basil is a great way to brighten a finished pasta dish or create a pesto . Not only does this fresh herb add beautiful flavor but color as well.

Fresh herbs bring a finishing touch to many types of dishes. Some dill on new red potatoes give some extra life to the earthy potato flavor or that fresh caught fish gets a punch of flavor from a light basil sauce with creme fresh.

Fresh herbs are easy to have around as well , as many will do great on a kitchen window sill. Many Bay area communities have farmers markets year round so if growing them yourself is not a goal there are local organic business that sell many to choose from. Local super markets as well carry a variety of fresh herbs. Finding a Mexican or Asian market will cover many fresh and dried herbs too. A great way to try something different.

Using Dried Herbs

When you're ready to use your stored, dried herbs, crumble them in your hands before adding to your recipe. This will allow the aroma and flavor to escape the dried leaves much better than adding the whole herb at once. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to finely grind your herbs.

As they age, dried herbs tend to lose their flavor and potency. If you're using older herbs, add a little more than the recipe calls for in order to get the maximum taste in your food.

Herbs are also a great way to add flavor and use less salt.

Both types of herbs are useful and have a place in the kitchen!

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