A beginner's guide to cooking with fresh herbs (INFOGRAPHIC)
Beginning cooks often stand strong with dried herbs for quite some time — whether that's what their mom used or because they're just so dang handy. If you've decided to branch out into the wide world of fresh herbs, you might be intimidated, but this guide will put your mind at ease.
When used correctly and stored properly, fresh herbs really can make all the difference in some dishes, especially less woody herbs like chives and parsley, which tend to lose all their bang when dried. Who knows? Maybe you'll even start your own windowsill herb garden. It's much cheaper than buying them in the store.
Cooking differences for fresh herbs
If you're just transitioning into using fresh herbs, you should know you don't always use them the same way.
- While you should always look online to be sure, in general, you use about three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry herbs. So if you use 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, you'll need 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh parsley.
- If fresh herbs have a stem, you can only use the stem if it's soft and pliable and not at all stringy. If you aren't sure, take a bite.
- Generally fresh herbs need to be added later in the cooking process than dried herbs to ensure the flavors retain their brightness.
- If you don't like chopping fresh herbs because you can't seem to get them as uniform as you want, try herb scissors. I like these five-blade scissors. (Mastrad, $12)
- Don't toss out your dried herbs just yet, though. Not only do many stop growing during the winter months, making them less readily available, sometimes dried herbs really are superior for specific uses (dry rubs, for example).
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