Wondering whether to use fresh herbs vs dried? Curious about how to store fresh herbs? Use these tips to maximize your fresh herbs and learn how to substitute if you don't have any.
While grocery stores in many places have improved over the last few weeks, many of us are still minimizing trips to the store. I've also found that fresh herbs are still hard to come by, at least near me.
As you can tell from my recipes, I love cooking with fresh herbs! They bring so much brightness and flavor, without adding excess salt or unhealthy ingredients. Many herbs are also nutritional powerhouses so cooking with them regularly can bring major benefits.
So how do you store your fresh herbs to maximize their shelf-life? Can you use dried if the store is out of fresh? Get my best herb tips below!
How to Store Fresh Herbs
Have you ever bought a beautiful package of fresh basil or dill only to have it wilt and turn brown long before you could use it all?
If you don't grow your own herbs, this has likely happened to you. Herbs are delicate and many recipes only call for one tablespoon or less, leaving you with most of the package to store. (At Prep Dish, I always make sure our menu uses ALL of the fresh herbs you buy each week to avoid this problem!)
If you simply place the package in your fridge though, the herbs will likely begin to wilt within a few days. Instead, wash and fully dry your herbs and store them according to the chart below!
Can you freeze fresh herbs?
If you don't think you'll use your herbs within a week or two, you can freeze your fresh herbs!
Simply wash, dry, and finely chop the herbs. Then press into an ice cube tray and top with a thin layer of oil. Once they're frozen, pop out the cubes and store in a freezer bag until you're ready to use!
This will preserve your herbs for things like soups and sauces, but thawed herbs will not work well for salads or garnishes.
Can I substitute with dried?
Can you substitute dried herbs for fresh? The answer is, sometimes.
If a recipe calls for fresh herbs, you can generally substitute 1/3 the amount of dried herbs. So if a soup calls for 1 Tbsp of fresh oregano, using 1 tsp dried oregano should be fine.
However, avoid using dried herbs raw, such as sprinkled on a salad or blended into a salad dressing. They simply don't taste good when used this way. If you're making a soup or using the herbs to flavor meat, you should be fine!
Can I substitute with a different herb?
Another tip for substituting herbs? You can often use a different herb than specified. So if a recipe calls for fresh parsley and all you can find is cilantro, that will often be fine. The flavor profile will change, but you will still get the freshness that only fresh herbs can bring.
Keeping in mind potential substitutes for common herbs is also a great way to cut down on food waste. If you're planning out recipes for the week, you may be able to get by with a bunch of basil rather than basil, tarragon and oregano. Use the below chart as a guide!
Why cook with fresh herbs?
This may seem like a lot of trouble to go to just to incorporate fresh herbs into your diet but I promise, it's worth it!
Not only do herbs add brightness and depth of flavor, they add considerable nutritional value to a recipe.
For instance, basil is a great source of Vitamin K and may help reduce memory loss, high blood pressure and depression.
Parsley is full of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K and is great for your immune system and blood sugar control.
Rosmarinic acid, a compound found in rosemary, may help reduce allergy symptoms.
No matter what herbs you're cooking with, they pretty much all offer some serious nutrition!
What are some good recipes with fresh herbs?
If you're looking to add more fresh herbs into your diet, you've come to the right place! These are a few of my favorite recipes featuring fresh herbs. Make sure to check out my video on 10 Ways I Use Fresh Herbs for more inspiration!
Herbs aren't just for savory dishes! Fresh mint gives this mojito-inspired smoothie a summery vibe that'll make you feel like you're on vacation. Looking for another minty treat? Don't miss these watermelon mint popsicles!
I don't like to play favorites with my recipes, but this one is up there. It calls for an entire bunch of parsley and cilantro – no herbs going to waste there!
This soup features fresh parsley and lemon, a classic combination that makes this recipe as bright as it is comforting.
Parsley gives this homemade coconut milk based ranch some seriously zesty flavor. You won't miss the bottled stuff!