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Herbs dry or fresh

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Just a thought on my recent study into herbs. Some are best fresh and some are best dry. But I am wondering what is best dry.

 

From the ones I have studied, Basil, Parsley, Coriander, Rosemary are best fresh. From what I know Oregano is best dry.

 

But there are a few im wondering about.

 

Tarragon

Mint

Chives

Thyme

Sage

Dill

And any other I missed out

 

Which ones are best dry and which are best fresh?

post #2 of 22

I can't think of any single herb that's better dried than fresh. Different, yes, better, no. Just like a sun dried tomato is different from a fresh tomato... but I wouldn't say it's better. 

 

IMO most herbs are actually MUCH better fresh. Now there are some herbs that do work dried (oregano is one of them) but still I'd rather use its fresh counterpart in most situations. There are exceptions: it's easier to powder dried oregano and sprinkle it over a lamb cutlet that will hit the grill than to try and do the same with fresh oregano. 

 

Mint? Tarragon? Chives? Thyme? Sage? Dill? I wouldn't even consider using their dried versions. I'd rather not use any herb!

post #3 of 22

Dried often work better for long, slow cooked, dishes.

 

Fresh for a la minute
 

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post #4 of 22

It's a matter of preference.  I'd rather use dried oregano and thyme any day over the fresh stuff.

 

Dried mint can work, although fresh is better.

 

Rosemary dries very well and is really great.

 

Bay leaves are just as good dry.

 

I would not even consider using dried dill, parsley, chives, tarragon, or basil.

 

Sage and cilantro are nasty either way (to my own preferences.)

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 22

@Koukouvagia - You think sage and cilantro are nasty? Why?

 

I personally think Basil, Parsley, and Tarragon are useless dry. Never tried dried mint.

 

Thyme is great fresh, and more potent dry. I use dry when I don't have fresh, or when I'm searing fish where fresh leaves would burn.  I can't see using dried herbs other than thyme or rosemary if you can use fresh. 

 

I guess like anything else, its up to personal preference, but the difference between fresh tarragon or basil and dry is quite noticeable. Dry just smells and tastes like lawn grass.

post #6 of 22

I generally use fresh herbs but in a pinch (when my indoor plants have half died in the winter lack of light) will use dried common thyme, dried sage, dried rosemary. Very rarely I will use dried dill, but only in dilled rice. 

 

I do use  dried herbes des Provence, bay leaves and dried Greek oregano and Greek thyme still on the branches.

 

Dried cilantro, chives, parsley, basil, common oregano and mint--never. No flavor, to my mind. Mint is OK as a tea. I will drink it if but only if I have an upset stomach and I never use it dried in cooking. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Asian and Mexican markets so fresh mint and cilantro are abundant and cheap year round.

 

Dried tarragon has a strong flavor I do not like at all. It's better preserved in vinegar if you must preserve it at all.

 

Basil I put in the food processor with olive oil then freeze for use during the winter. I also freeze fresh curry leaves when I find them since I can never use a whole package and I think they lose their flavor dried, even though I know some Indian cooks use them dried in a pinch. I've had mixed success freezing Holy and Thai basil leaves. Usually I keep them in a glass of water in the window and let them root.

post #7 of 22

When I think of spices I always think of crushed red peppers. There are so many methods that I have read on how to dry the peppers out, from  baking them in the oven to grating them up and placing in a brown bag. Dehydrators probably would work but I never owned one, any suggestions on drying out hot peppers. (Cherry peppers, chilies, etc...)

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTerry View PostI've had mixed success freezing Holy and Thai basil leaves. Usually I keep them in a glass of water in the window and let them root.

Wait. How do you store Thai basil? The leaves themselves root?

post #9 of 22

The stems will root, especially the tender tips with the leaves stripped off the bottom part, which you submerge. I often cheat and dip the tips in a bit of rooting hormone powder from the garden store, but I've had them take off just fine on their own. Works with Italian or common basil as well. And with sage. If I weren't so lazy, I'd pot them up but I usually just leave them in the glass of water until they get lanky and pale, at which time I throw them out and go out and buy a new bunch. Although I did start then plant outdoors a lovely, healthy sage plant that way. Keep them out of direct sun while you're rooting them. A north window works.

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

I'd rather use dried oregano and thyme any day over the fresh stuff.

Kouk', if you had to make chicken stock and you had access to both fresh thyme and dried thyme, you'd use the dried thyme?

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

Kouk', if you had to make chicken stock and you had access to both fresh thyme and dried thyme, you'd use the dried thyme?

 

For a stock especially I would use dried.  For any prolonged cooking I'd use dried.  We might have had this discussion before as I recall, but I don't have access to good fresh thyme, the stuff they sell at the market doesn't smell of anything to me.  The Greek thyme I've picked and dried myself is bursting with flavor, fresh or dry.

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post #12 of 22

As previously mentioned, for the quickie meal....it's going to be fresh all day.  Those slower cooked meals benefit from the dried seasonings.

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

For a stock especially I would use dried.  For any prolonged cooking I'd use dried.  We might have had this discussion before as I recall, but I don't have access to good fresh thyme, the stuff they sell at the market doesn't smell of anything to me.  The Greek thyme I've picked and dried myself is bursting with flavor, fresh or dry.

Yes I remember we did... to me using dry thyme for a stock would be disgusting... would taste like straw more than thyme. Somehow I can't imagine your tastebuds being so different than mine, so my guess is the dried thyme you get is exceptional, and the fresh thyme you get is not all that good, at least compared to the dry/fresh thyme I get here. 

 

I recently got some fresh thyme directly from the farmer, at the farmer's market, and while it was okay, it ... wasn't as good as the fresh thyme I get in a clear plastic box at the supermarket! Surprising. It also didn't last as long.

 

On the other hand I do have a box of dried "Herbes de Provences" which I'll use as a dry rub for example on pork chops or lamb chops before grilling them. And sometimes I'll use dry Mexican Oregano on grilled chops too, or even on skewers (mostly lamb though). 

 

I only wish I could score some of that flavor bursting Greek thyme so I could compare it with the stuff I know and use. 

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

 

For a stock especially I would use dried.  For any prolonged cooking I'd use dried.  We might have had this discussion before as I recall, but I don't have access to good fresh thyme, the stuff they sell at the market doesn't smell of anything to me.  The Greek thyme I've picked and dried myself is bursting with flavor, fresh or dry.

Koukouvagia - I suppose you have greek roots? Noticed that tendency to work a lot with dried herbs in greek cooking. Of course, after seeing the quality of dried herbs sold in Greece during a holiday on Crete, I can somewhat understand. That stuff was bursting with flavour, just entering the store you got hit with a wall of etheric oils :D

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneMachine View Post

Koukouvagia - I suppose you have greek roots? Noticed that tendency to work a lot with dried herbs in greek cooking. Of course, after seeing the quality of dried herbs sold in Greece during a holiday on Crete, I can somewhat understand. That stuff was crazy.gifbursting with flavour, just entering the store you got hit with a wall of etheric oils :D

crazy.gifcrazy.gifcrazy.gif

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

Yes I remember we did... to me using dry thyme for a stock would be disgusting... would taste like straw more than thyme. Somehow I can't imagine your tastebuds being so different than mine, so my guess is the dried thyme you get is exceptional, and the fresh thyme you get is not all that good, at least compared to the dry/fresh thyme I get here. 

 

I recently got some fresh thyme directly from the farmer, at the farmer's market, and while it was okay, it ... wasn't as good as the fresh thyme I get in a clear plastic box at the supermarket! Surprising. It also didn't last as long.

 

On the other hand I do have a box of dried "Herbes de Provences" which I'll use as a dry rub for example on pork chops or lamb chops before grilling them. And sometimes I'll use dry Mexican Oregano on grilled chops too, or even on skewers (mostly lamb though). 

 

I only wish I could score some of that flavor bursting Greek thyme so I could compare it with the stuff I know and use. 

 

Disgusting is a strong word.  I don't think our tastebuds are that different.  We both go with what tastes good.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 22

I think they're all better fresh, more intense. I've found a limited amount of freeze dried herbs that I like, made by Litehouse I think, that are good to keep in the cupboard.

 

KouKou, I partially agree with the bay leaves, their flavor doesn't change much when dried BUT I can use one or two fresh leaves to get the same flavor of 10 or 15 dried ones. As an aside, when I read your username in my head it sounds like CooCoo Vagina :)

post #18 of 22

id go fresh over dried herbs, but it also depends on the application.

 

oregano is great fresh, its vibrant and tasty, just be sure not to beat fresh herbs up to much or they'll quickly turn to shit.

 

making dried herbs is as easy as ever, just pop them in the dehydrator or a very low oven. i prefer to make my own personally. you know the source and how "fresh" they are. dried herbs tend to get weird over time.

 

make a great vinaigrette with them. or a fresh green goddess with the fresh herbs

post #19 of 22

While I generally prefer fresh herbs over dried there are times that I'd rather reach for the dried.  Sorry, but pizza sauce requires dried oregano not fresh.  I'm sure it is due to the pizza I ate growing up, but I don't think the flavor of fresh oregano gets overpowered by the pepperoni, sausage, onions, etc. and I really like the flavor of the oregano to come through.  Many times, in Cajun cooking, I prefer dried thyme over fresh.  Again, I think there is a very different flavor profile between the fresh and dried and to me its the dried that contributes to that deep Cajun flavor of gumbo or jambalaya.  Finally, when it comes to sage, I often use the fresh stuff but when it comes to making dressing (stuffing) I find that I prefer the dried for its more pronounced flavor.

 

Herbs that I would never, ever consider using dried: parsley, cilantro, chives, tarragon, or mint.  I don't have a lot of use for dried dill although I do use it in baking (Onion-Dill bread) and there are a couple of snacks that I make that use it and it works fine for that.

post #20 of 22

The Greek thyme (thymus serpyllum) is a flavor blast but it is also a different plant and a different flavor than that of common or garden thyme (thymus vulgaris)--either fresh or dried. Related but definitely a different flavor. I use both. Which one I choose depends on the dish.

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTerry View Post

The Greek thyme (thymus serpyllum) is a flavor blast but it is also a different plant and a different flavor than that of common or garden thyme (thymus vulgaris)--either fresh or dried. Related but definitely a different flavor. I use both. Which one I choose depends on the dish.

Oh wow!! Then I know Greek thyme!! In France it used to grow wild in the mountains and we'd go pick it, only we called it "Serpolet". However we never used it for food, only to infuse water and make drinks we'd have at night before going to bed. 

 

Now for the funny part: I always thought the "Serpolet" smell was close to thyme and have been meaning of trying to cook with it - but never did. I'll have to give it a shot!

post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post

While I generally prefer fresh herbs over dried there are times that I'd rather reach for the dried.  Sorry, but pizza sauce requires dried oregano not fresh.  I'm sure it is due to the pizza I ate growing up, but I don't think the flavor of fresh oregano gets overpowered by the pepperoni, sausage, onions, etc. and I really like the flavor of the oregano to come through.  Many times, in Cajun cooking, I prefer dried thyme over fresh.  Again, I think there is a very different flavor profile between the fresh and dried and to me its the dried that contributes to that deep Cajun flavor of gumbo or jambalaya.  Finally, when it comes to sage, I often use the fresh stuff but when it comes to making dressing (stuffing) I find that I prefer the dried for its more pronounced flavor.

 

Herbs that I would never, ever consider using dried: parsley, cilantro, chives, tarragon, or mint.  I don't have a lot of use for dried dill although I do use it in baking (Onion-Dill bread) and there are a couple of snacks that I make that use it and it works fine for that.

I hear you on the pizza, I use dried oregano myself. Cajun cooking I'm not very familiar with, so I wouldn't know. And I've never used safe in a dressing. You know, maybe a lot of the different opinions come from the fact that we are not thinking of the same dishes. When I saw you say that dried herbs are better for long slow cooking I immediately thought of my coq au vin which is kinda slow long cooking (braised chicken) and I would never even think of using dry thyme in it, but instead put a LOT of fresh thyme. 

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