Sunday, January 04, 2009
Conversion from Fresh to Dried Herbs
First thing to consider though....dried herbs work best in longer cooking dishes, to allow them time to steep...like tea. In fact, I prefer to start soups, stews and oven braises with dried and, when I'm lucky enough to find some, chop some fresh herbs and add either for the last 10-15 minutes or sprinkle on just before serving.
The conversion rule of thumb is 1 tsp of dried for each tbsp of fresh. And while that's what I use as a starting point, I might add a little more dried, once the cooking process starts. Dried herbs lose their pungency over time on your shelf, so remember to taste soups, stews or roasts about 20 minutes or so after the dish starts cooking. That should allow time for the herbs to flavor the dish.
A caution: rosemary is a very strong herb, so you might want to start with a half tsp of dried for a tbsp of fresh.
1) Rub the dried herbs between your fingers before adding to the dish to bring out the flavors;
2) For thyme, I like to leave the leaves on the stalks and put a couple of sprigs in hearty, slow cooking dishes like lentil or split pea soups, and stews with root vegetables.
Making your own dried: As you see your fresh herbs start to wilt, remove them from any packaging and let them sit on the counter or hang them in bunches upside down until they are dried. Then gently remove them from their stems and place them in a zip lock baggie or empty herb bottle.
What's your favorite tip about dried/drying herbs and what to use them in?