When is it best to use dried herbs? Do fresh spices always work best? Here you can read more about the difference between dried and fresh spices!
Basil leaves top the freshly cooked pasta sauce. A bunch of thyme is pulled from the green twig and straight down into the mortar. A leaf mint will be the icing on when mojito is mixed. We are used to watching TV cooks standing and cooking with fresh spices right next to the stove. As an amateur, you can easily get the feeling that fresh spices like basil, thyme, rosemary, and dill are always clearly the best.
But it’s not that obvious. Both fresh and dried herbs have their advantages and disadvantages.
Dry your herbs
Spice plants that have abundant stalks, which may feel a bit bumpy, like oregano, for example, works great to dry. The same goes for classic meat spices like rosemary and thyme, not to mention dragon and sage. These are herbs that can, of course, be served fresh but they are excellent to dry and use in cooking.
Harvesters, more dense herbs like that basil to the pasta, on the other hand, are better to eat fresh. The same goes for parsley, cilantro, lemon balm with its crisp green leaves, chives, and other plants that we may perceive as more like green plants to the appearance.
The juicier they look, the harder they are to dry. But there are exceptions. Dill, for example, which is a very soft plant, also works great as dried. Just like parsley and coriander. They only give a less clear taste in dried form. You simply need to dose differently if you are going to use fresh or dried spices.
Dried spices need more time
When you cook with dried herbs, you can expect the flavors to take time to develop. If you make a pot of fish, you may need to “bring” the spices to life in the frying pan first with the help of butter or oil. The food fat increases the taste and opens up the flavor in the herb, the fat makes the food taste more and the kitchen smells fantastic.
The scent is easy to forget. It is an important part of the aroma, the whole taste experience is partly controlled by smell, taste but also the visual impression. Fresh spices, of course, give a lot of scents, while dried almost does not smell anything at all, before they are processed. You may need to rub your dried spices between your fingers to get the scent properly, preferably test with rosemary or oregano. You will notice a big difference!
Does that sound strange? Then think about the job that a good pepper mill does, for example – when you turn on the mill, the spice is crushed and brings out the freshness in the middle.
A great advantage of dried herbs, of course, is that they last very long. But keep in mind that they don’t last for long. You should occasionally invent the spice shelf at home, scent your spices with spices every year if you feel no scent it may be time to throw and buy new. All spices are different, but as a rule of thumb, you can think that a teaspoon of dried spice from the jar corresponds to about a deciliter of freshly chopped fresh spice. Assuming that your dried spices have not become too old in the jar, of course.
Add fresh spices at the end
Dried spices can thus be browned together with onions at the start of cooking. On the contrary, with fresh spices. They should be added right at the end. Dill on top of the fish sauce, sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro over your favorite Mexican dish or take out the scissors and cut chives and parsley over meat and vegetarian dishes to get a fresh finish! Don’t forget that desserts can also be spiced with fresh herbs.
Waiting with fresh spices to the end means that the plant retains a green lovely look, but both the taste and the springy feel retain better then.