Picking fresh herbs is the best, but when you do not have access to a garden, buying fresh herbs is the next best thing. It allows you to gain the maximum amount of flavor and nutrition!
In general, you can substitute one teaspoon of dried herbs for one tablespoon of fresh herbs and vice-versa (which is a one-to-three ratio, by the way). But, let taste be your guide! Packaged dried herbs start out with a stronger taste than fresh herbs, but lose their pungency as they age. So if you’ve recently purchased the container, you might want to use a light hand, or add a bit more if the herb is older.
If you’re grinding your own spices instead of using pre-ground, you might use a bit less than the recipe calls for, as fresh-ground spices are more flavorful than pre-ground.
Buying, Prepping, & Storing
When buying herbs and spices: Fresh herbs should be vibrant in color, structure, and fragrance. Avoid any trace of mold, dry stems, wilting branches or dis-colored crushed leaves.
When buying dried herbs whole or crushed, as in powdered form they become stale more quickly and can contain foreign materials so look over packaging and sell by dates.
Storing Fresh Herbs: If you picked herbs or bought fresh with stem on, keep at room temperature — they actually lose flavor at lower temperatures. Stand herbs in a jar, cup or vase of water like flowers until you can use them.
Storing Dried Herbs: The shelf life of dried herbs varies but the rule of a (green) thumb for dried herbs is 1 to 3 years for leafy herbs, while powdered or ground herbs is about 6 months. Therefore, I like to clear out the pantry every few months and make herb blends and seasoned salts and sugars.
Be creative! These are ideas that can also be made and wrapped up in adorable little packages like my sister, Molly and I made for stocking stuffers!
Italian Blend Suggestion: Kosher salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, onion flakes, garlic flakes and red chili flakes
Steak Seasoning: Kosher salt, rosemary, garlic and or onion flakes, chili peppers
Poultry Rub: Kosher salt, sage, thyme, rosemary, paprika, and onion powder
Coffee Sugar Blend: Sugar, vanilla pod scraped into the sugar, dried mint