Sunday, January 04, 2009

Conversion from Fresh to Dried Herbs

It's winter, and around here, it's hard to find fresh herbs, so we often resort to dried. In fact, I just received a question from a fan, so I thought I'd share the answer with all of you.

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.

Tips:
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?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

how about conversion from dried herbs to powders? the recipe i'm looking at says to use dried fenugreek leaves, but what i have is fenugreek powder in capsules.

Ruth Daniels said...

Great question! And since I couldn't find the answer doing a google search and was very curious myself, I ground up some dried fenugreek leaves with my mortar and pestle for the answer.

1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves = 1 tsp powder.

Andi said...

Your blog is great, I just stumbled upon it while I was searching for herb conversion through Google. I was wondering what the conversion would be if a recipe calls for sprigs of a certain herb and I only have dried?

Ruth Daniels said...

Andi, glad you like the blog and thanks for asking the question.

Rosemary is probably the strongest scente herb, so no more than 1/2 tsp per sprig.

Thyme and oregano are sort of middle of the road so 1 tsp per sprig.

Parsley is much milder so 1 tbsp.

Bottom line, after about 30 minutes do a taste test. You can always add more dried, but you can never take away if it's already over the top.

Hope this helps.

Andi said...

Thanks so much! :) I look forward to looking through the rest of your blog.

Anonymous said...

I have a recipe that calls for 2 tespoons of fresh Marjoram, which is not available this time of year. What is the conversion rate for a teaspoon of fresh to dried?

Ruth Daniels said...

I'd start with one teaspoon of dried and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste and then add a little more if you think it needs it. Wait longer to taste. It does take a few minutes for the herb to really give off its aroma. Remember ... Less is better than too much.

Thanks for the question.

Anonymous said...

If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped what would the conversion be for dried basil?

Ruth Daniels said...

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon would work. Although only if it's something to be cooked... not a salad.

Anonymous said...

After searching Google I found your blog. The rule of thumb for conversions helped me a lot. Also the sprig conversion! Wish me luck on my pasta sauce and canning!!

Ruth Daniels said...

fingers crossed & happy canning!

Kenny said...

Thanks for grinding up those fenugreek leaves! I just aced a first attempt at this tikka masala recipe! Wow :) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/chicken-in-creamy-tomato-curry-chicken-tikka-masala-recipe2/index.html