COOKING IN LANGLEY: Herbs best fresh or dried?

Some herbs are better used fresh, while dried herbs need time and moisture to release the flavours.

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 12 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

.

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 food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

Just Posted

Gas tank of Langley man’s pickup drilled to steal fuel

Record-high gas prices may be to blame for the theft that has left him without a truck

Chilliwack RCMP seek shoplifting suspect caught on video

Man allegedly connected to automobile theft in Abbotsford, shoplifting in Langley

Reconciliation walk builds relationships between settlers and Indigenous peoples

Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation begins May 25 in Fort Langley

Appeal filed in Langley condo case

Lawyer for buyers seeks a court order preventing cancellation of purchase contracts

VIDEO: Legally blind man pickets supermarket in wake of alleged discrimination

Matt Salli and Save-On-Foods working on a solution, following ‘unfortunate’ incident

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

The simple beauty of a barn

Architect’s labour of love wins award from Architecture Institute of BC

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

UPDATE: 83-year-old convicted murderer back in custody

RCMP have captured Ralph Whitfield Morris who escaped from Mission Institution

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

If you see a dog in a hot car, don’t break in: SPCA

People are being discouraged from smashing windows to free animals. The SPCA has tips on what else you can do.

Most Read