Cooking with Fresh Herbs: Add New Flavor and Zest to Your Foods

Cooking with fresh herbs can make simple, bland foods exciting and delicious. It adds interest, new flavors and tastes, and zest to simple recipes.

If you are a beginner, there is a word of caution: do not use too much quantity and too many varieties of herbs in one dish. Too many herbs can overpower a dish and give you unpleasant results.


Enhance Your Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Always wash fresh herbs before cooking by rinsing well under running water and patting dry with a paper towel. Chopping or crushing them releases the flavor oils, so it’s best to do this just before cooking. Cut herbs with a sharp kitchen knife or you can get time-saving choppers and rollers.

Do not use a food processor, as this will only make a paste. Use kitchen scissors or snippers for mincing the herbs into small pieces. There are multiple blade scissors for you to cut, chop, or mince them directly into the food. You can also get hand-held mills that have cross-cutting blades to prevent ripped or bruised herbs

For herbs, like rosemary, that have strong stems, simply run your finger down the stem to remove the leaves. If you still need them in smaller pieces, you can crush it lightly with a mortar and pestle.

Fresh leafy types like cilantro, parsley and mint can be stored in water just like a bunch of flowers. Place them ends down in a tall glass with about one inch of water and loosely cover the tops with plastic wrap. Rosemary, sage, and thyme have woody stems and should be placed in plastic wrap and stored in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

For your convenience there are special containers designed to keep herbs fresh longer.


How to Use Dried Herbs

The leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, and roots also work well when dried.

The dried herbs are more concentrated and stronger and should be used in smaller amounts.

For example, 1/4 teaspoon of dried leaves should be used for 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh leaves. 

Use 1/8 teaspoon of the powdered kind should be used in place of 1 teaspoon of the fresh chopped leaves. Click here to see which herbs are used with foods.

When to Add Herbs

Add them when dried in the beginning of the cooking process and fresh toward the end.

You can complement the flavor and appearance of homemade bread by stirring in a spiral of fresh green parsley into the dough.

The more aromatic kind like rosemary, dill, and thyme should be used in small amounts. Cooking with fresh herbs is to enhance or foods and not overpower them.

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