Cooking With Herbs


Jul 27, 2007
Cooking With Herbs

Cooking with Herbs

Expert advice for buying, storing and using herbs so they stay fresh and taste their best.

Provided by Wish
Fresh Herbs
Buying: Look for vibrant colour with no bruising or wilting. If you can, buy them with the root attached.
Storing: Wrap in a damp paper towel or cotton herb bag and store in your fridge for three days to a week, depending on the herb. Tarragon, chives, dill, chervil, basil and cilantro have the shortest life span while rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, oregano and mint can sustain a longer fridge life. Freezing fresh herbs can lock in their flavour if you’re not using them right away. Basil, chives, dill, fennel, parsley, rosemary and tarragon all freeze well.
Cooking: Hearty herbs, like rosemary and thyme, can be added to dishes in the early stages of cooking to continually release their essence. When picked and chopped, delicate herbs like basil and tarragon release their flavour quickly and should be added at the end. Use the technique of chiffonade (see left) to minimize bruising and loss of flavour. Sturdier herbs like rosemary and marjoram will hold up to the knife. Chervil, thyme and oregano are best not chopped at all. Tip: Fry fresh herbs such as sage, parsley and basil to use as a garnish. Just heat oil to 350 F, drop in the leaf of the herb for 1 minute, remove and drain on paper towel.
Dry Herbs
Buying: Purchase in small amounts (and well-sealed packages) from a reliable source.
Storing: Store in a cool, dry place with minimum exposure to light. Don’t store herbs above the stove, as the heat will diminish their taste. Label the container with the purchase date, and use within one year. Don’t freeze your dried herbs, because the slightest moisture will dissipate the flavour. Tip: Test the freshness of dried herbs by pinching a little with your fingertips and rubbing. If there’s no aroma, it’s ready for the compost.
Cooking: Best added at the start of cooking, as heat is needed to bring out flavour. Great for making dry rubs and marinades. Tips: Before you add dry herbs, wake them up by rubbing them in the palm of your hand with a pinch of coarse salt. If you’re substituting dry for fresh herbs, here’s a helpful conversion: 1 tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried.
How To Chiffonade
Stack leaves of herb together and tightly roll into a cigar shape. With a sharp knife, thinly slice crosswise to produce ribbons of the herb. This is best with delicate herbs such as basil, mint and sage