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Herbs and their basics

The Basics on Herbs:

There were days when the only spices used in American homes were salt and pepper. Groceries mainly featured the most basic of herbs, most likely parsley.  However, you can still that today, there is a plethora of herbs you can choose from. These include oregano, basil and edible flowers. What’s more, you can get these fresh.

Of course nowadays you can have and use all the herbs you want. This has since then revolutionized the nation’s culinary arena. We would like to remind you, though, that you should avoid the temptation of reaching for fresh herbs every time, just because they are there.

You can opt to use fresh or dry herbs. It just depends on the kind of herb you want and how you want to use it. Some summer herbs tend to lose much of their flavor once they have dried. Thus, summer herbs such as cilantro, chervil, lovage, tarragon, basil, chives and parsley is best used fresh.

There are also herbs that retain their flavor even when they are dried. These are herbs that are strong aromatics and have woody stems. Sage, bay leaves, oregano, savory and thyme are some examples of these heartier herbs. They are perfect complements to vegetables, roast poultry and other cold-weather dishes.

Now, with these herbs, fresh is always better. So, if you can get fresh herbs, use them whenever you can. However, the dried versions also work just as well. Other spices also work better when used dried. These include cinnamon, fennel, coriander seeds, curry and cumin blends, cardamom and nutmeg. Also, you will be hard put to find fresh versions of these spices.

Here are some things you should remember when storing herbs (fresh and dry). We also include tips on how to use them: When to replace: Dried herbs are best replaced annually.

Store: For fresh herbs, trim the stems (like you would do with flowers), and store them upright in some water. You can also wrap the herbs in a damp paper tower, and then you can place it inside a plastic bag. The best way to store dried herbs is to place them in sealed glass jars and put them away from direct light and heat.

Using fresh instead of dried and vice versa: What you have to keep in mind is that fresh and dried herbs cook differently. Thus, you have to adjust your cooking technique and time. When the recipe calls for dried herbs but you have fresh, you can adjust by using twice or thrice the amount of herb as dried. Dried herbs usually are concentrated in flavor.

Overcooking: When you overcook fresh herbs, they tend to lose their flavor. It is best that you add fresh herbs just about before you take off the heat. You can also use them as a garnish.

Cooking release: When cooking dry herbs, you should cook them longer. Simmer the dry herbs so that they will rehydrate and give off the most of their flavor.

You can also find fresh thyme and rosemary at the supermarket the whole year through. Thyme and rosemary work wonders to almost any kind of poultry. This is best when their classic flavors are blended with some spicy bay leaf.

[tag] herbs cooking[/tag]


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