How to Cook with Fresh Herbs

How to Store Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs add both flavor and health benefits to meals. Here are a few tips to help you use fresh herbs in your cooking and how to store fresh herbs so they last longer.

Cooking with Herbs infographic by Ceramcor

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Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herbs

Fresh herbs do have a slightly different taste than the dried herbs you buy from the store. When substituting fresh herbs for dried in a recipe, use 3-4 times more fresh herbs than the recipe calls for and add them at the end. Add dried herbs during cooking to bring out the most flavor from the herbs. Woody herbs like rosemary and thyme retain their flavor when dried. Tender herbs like basil lose much of their flavor once dried so it’s better to use it fresh. Most chefs use a combination of fresh and dried herbs.

How to Store Fresh Herbs

There are two main ways to store fresh herbs. The first is in a jar with a little water on the bottom. Trim the stems of the herb and place in the jar. The water should just cover the bottom of the stems. The second way to keep herbs fresh is by wrapping them in a damp towel and then placing in a plastic bag in the fridge.

How to Use Fresh Basil

Commonly Used In: Caprese, pastas, tomato sauces, pesto, pizza, soups and stews, stir-fries, curries, salads

Add at the end of cooking to maximize flavor and do not simmer.

Basil Pairs Well With:

Produce – Tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, berries, figs, peaches, plums

Proteins – Chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, eggs

Herbs/Spices – Garlic, olive oil, oregano, thyme, fennel

How to Store Basil:

Store in a jar on the countertop for 7-10 days.

How to Cook with Fresh Cilantro

Commonly Used In: Salsas, guacamole, chutneys, soups, curries, salads, vinaigrettes, spicy dishes

Cut the leaves from the stem and use as a fresh garnish, or add into a cooked dish at the last minute to flavor the dish without wilting.

Cilantro Pairs Well With:

Produce – Avocados, tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, bananas, mangoes, pears, summer melons

Proteins – Chicken, fish, beef, pork

Herbs/Spices – Ginger, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom

How to Store Fresh Cilantro:

Store in a jar in the fridge for 7-10 days.

How to Use Fresh Mint

Commonly Used In: Fruit salads, curries, jellies, soups, marinades, cream sauces, cocktails, cakes/frostings

Chop lightly and add fresh to the dish, or steep leaves in tea.

Mint Pairs Well With:

Produce –  Berries, oranges and limes, summer melons, plums, apples, pears, peas, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots

Proteins – Lamb, pork chops, beans and lentils

Herbs/Spices – Ginger, cayenne, cumin, lemon verbena, chamomile, chocolate

How to Store Fresh Mint:

Store in a jar in the fridge for 7-10 days.

How to Use Fresh Parsley

Commonly Used In: Sauces, marinades, salads, soups and stews, pastas, garnishes

Chop finely and add to seafood and meat sauces at the last minute, or use as a garnish to add a burst of color to dishes. Flat parsley holds up better in longer cooking, curly parsley looks great as a garnish.

Parsley Pairs Well With:

Produce – Mushrooms, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bananas, coconuts, grapefruits, mangoes, pineapples, summer melons

Proteins – Fish, chicken, beef, tofu

Herbs/Spices – Basil and chives, tarragon

How to Store Fresh Parsley:

Store in a jar in the fridge for 7-10 days.

How to Use Fresh Chives

Commonly Used In: Sauces, soups and stews, salads, stir-fries, breads, dips with mayonnaise or sour cream, risottos

Thinly slice or snip. Use raw as a garnish or add at the end of cooking so as to not destroy the flavor.

Chives Pairs Well With:

Produce – Potatoes, asparagus, onions, leeks,

Proteins – Chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs

Herbs/Spices – Parsley and basil, tarragon, dill

How to Store Fresh Chives:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Cook with Fresh Oregano

Commonly Used In: Pizza, pastas, dressings, oil and butter, pesto

Strip the leaves from the stems and use them whole or chopped at the end of cooking.

Oregano Pairs Well With:

Produce – Tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes, zucchini, artichokes, bell peppers

Proteins – Beef, chicken, fried fish, lamb, pork, turkey, eggs

Herbs/Spices – Chilli, bay leaves, marjoram and thyme, fennel and basil

How to Store Fresh Oregano:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Use Fresh Rosemary

Commonly Used In: Marinades and oils, sauces, soups and stews, focaccia bread, roasted vegetables

Chop finely or add whole stems at beginning and remove before serving. Can be used in longer simmering dishes.

Rosemary Pairs Well With:

Produce – Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peas, spinach, cauliflower, oranges, apricots

Proteins – Fish, poultry, pork, lamb, eggs

Herbs/Spices – Oregano, thyme, garlic

How to Store Fresh Rosemary:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Cook with Fresh Thyme

Commonly Used In: Broths, soups and stews, flatbreads, marinades, stuffings, Cajun and Creole dishes, Caribbean Jerk seasoning

Can be used in longer simmering dishes. Use stems for a stronger flavor but remove before serving.

Thyme Pairs Well With:

Produce – Carrots, peas, winter squash, tomatoes, potatoes, cherries, figs, grapes, honeydew melon, peaches, pears

Proteins – Lamb, fish, chicken, duck, pork

Herbs/Spices – Parsley and bay, rosemary, oregano, sweet marjoram, sumac, cilantro

How to Store Fresh Thyme:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Use Fresh Tarragon

Commonly Used In: Bérnaise sauce, omelets, gazpachos, dressings, garnishes, pickles

Heat diminishes its flavor, so add tarragon toward the end of cooking, or use it as a garnish. A little goes a long way.

Tarragon Pairs Well With:

Produce – Potatoes, artichokes, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes

Proteins – Chicken, shellfish, beef, lamb, eggs

Herbs/Spices – Parsley, chervil, chives

How to Store Fresh Tarragon:

Store in a jar in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Use Fresh Dill

Commonly Used In: Pickles, cucumber dishes, soups, potato salad, yogurt dishes, omelets, sauces, dressings, sour cream or cream cheese dishes

Best used fresh for more flavor. Can be added at the end of cooking.

Dill Pairs Well With:

Produce – Cucumbers, beets, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, green beans, tomatoes

Proteins – Seafood (especially salmon), beans, eggs, chicken

Herbs/Spices – Mustard, pepper, allspice, bay leaves, mace, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chives, parsley

How to Store Fresh Dill:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Cook with Fresh Sage

Commonly Used In: Robust flavor best with heavy foods. Used in cheese and cream based items, sweet and savory breads, stuffings, risottos, tomato sauce

Add at the beginning of cooking. Remove leaves from stem and use whole or chop.

Sage Pairs Well With:

Produce – Potatoes, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, peas, winter squash, apple

Proteins – Pork, beef, turkey, sausage, beans

Herbs/Spices – Lemon, winter savory

How to Store Fresh Sage:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

How to Use Fresh Lemongrass

Commonly Used In: Curries, soups, stir-fries, spring rolls, marinades, teas, flan, panna cotta

Remove the tough outer leaves from the stalk until you reach the pale interior. Trim the very top and bottom. Can prep by grating, chopping, or pulverizing. Add at the beginning of cooking or fresh, depending on the recipe.

Lemongrass Pairs Well With:

Produce – Spring vegetables, bell peppers, tomatoes

Proteins – Fish, poultry, pork, beef

Herbs/Spices – Chili pepper, garlic, galangal, turmeric

How to Store Fresh Lemongrass:

Roll in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge for 10-14 days.

Categories:Recipes/Cooking with Xtrema
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