Fresh herbs can add a lot of flavor to a meal. They can easily be used while cooking if you know how to use them and what to pair them with. This guide will help you determine how to best use fresh herbs in cooking.

The Best Herbs To Use Fresh

When it comes to herbs you have two choices: fresh or dried herbs. Some herbs taste better fresh while others are better dried. Herbs that tend to be tender like basil, chives, and parsley are best used fresh as they have a subtle flavor. Herbs that are hardier like oregano, rosemary, and thyme, often taste better when they are dried.

When To Add Them

In order to get the maximum flavor out of herbs, you must know when to add them. Fresh herbs should be added towards the end of your cooking time. This allows them to maintain the most flavor. If you must add herbs at the beginning of your cooking time, then it’s better to use dried herbs since they need to be heated up for a longer period of time so that their flavors are fully released.

Storing Fresh Herbs

Many people don’t use fresh herbs as they don’t know that they can store unused portions of them. Often times a recipe only calls for a little bit of a certain herb and the cook ends up throwing the unused portion of the herb away. Fortunately, there are ways to store fresh herbs so that they don’t go to waste. To store fresh herbs, you can trim the base of them with scissors. Then, fill an old jar about a ⅓ of the way full with cold water. Put the herbs into the jar and cover with a lid. Place the herbs into the refrigerator to keep them fresh until you want to use them again. The amount of time that you can keep them before they need to be used will vary with each herb. You can also wet a paper towel, wring it out and wrap the herbs in it. Then place the paper towel into a sealable bag and put it into the refrigerator.

The Best Way To Cook With Herbs

It’s important to use a sharp knife when cutting your herbs in order to keep from crushing them. Most recipes will call for using dried herbs. For those recipes, triple the amount of fresh herbs that it calls for as you will need three times the amount than of dried herbs. Also, make sure you add the herbs to the end of the recipe rather than in the beginning.

What To Pair Your Herbs With

Even if you know how to cook with fresh herbs, you may not know what to pair them with. Here are some of the most popular herbs and some of the dishes that they complement.

Basil

This herb has somewhat of a clove-like aroma and flavor. It’s often used in tomato based dishes and soups. It’s very versatile and pairs well with both meat and seafood.

Chives

Many people feel as if chives have an oniony flavor. It’s often used as a garnish on a variety of dishes. It can be added to a lot of things including dips and tomato based sauces.

Cilantro

This herb is often referred to as coriander. Despite it being one of the most popular spices in the world, many people think that it has a soapy flavor when cooked. However, it’s often used in Asian or Latin Recipes. It usually pairs well with curry dishes. Many people do eat the leaves and stem raw as some find that they have a sweet flavor.

Dill

This herb has an anise-like subtle flavor. It only can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, but you can use a lot of it in dishes as it’s not too overpowering. It can compliment a variety of dishes including those with seafood in them as well as soups.

Mint

This herb has somewhat of a bite to it. It’s often put into salads or even drinks like lemonade to give it a kick. It’s popular in both African and the Middle East. It also has a cooling effect in spicy dishes.

Oregano

This herb is often used in a variety of dishes throughout the world. It can be hard to find it fresh. If you are able to though, you are in for a real treat as it has a warm, slightly bitter taste. It can also be used as a substitute for another spice, Marjoram. Oregano is often used in Italian dishes like spaghetti as well as recipes that have garlic in them.

Parsley

This herb has a peppery flavor to it. It’s often used with other seasonings. It’s common for it to be used in salads. Parsley is often commonly used as a garnish.

Rosemary

This herb has a very pungent flavor. Because it’s so strong, it should be added to dishes sparingly. It’s very complementary to meats and stews. It tends to store well in the refrigerator for up to a week which is good since it’s difficult to use a lot of it at one time.

Sage

This herb is often used in stuffing. Just like with Rosemary, it does have a strong flavor so err on the side of caution with the amount you use. You can always add later on if it’s not enough. It can turn a simple dish into a more complex one, which is great for those that want to add a little something extra to a recipe. Sage is great with potatoes or butter based sauces.

Thyme

This is a very popular herb. It pairs well with virtually anything as it has a subtle flavor. To use it fresh in dishes, you will need to peel off the leaves to expose the stem. This will take time though as it tends to have many leaves. Thyme pairs well with everything from vegetables to poultry.