Dried herbs are a must for any quick cooking pantry. They add great flavor, are inexpensive, and are long-lasting. To get the most flavor out of your dried herb collection, follow these tips.
- Watch expiration dates! Most herbs begin to lose potency after six months. If they don't smell strong, discard them and buy a new bottle. Make sure you label your herb containers so you know when they were purchased; they should be frequently rotated.
- Before adding the herbs to the food, crush the leaves between your fingers. This helps release volatile oils and increase the herb's fragrance and flavor.
- When cooking in the crockpot, add dried herbs (and fresh herbs too) at the end of cooking time. Long, slow cooking times can diminish the herb's intensity.
- The ratio for using dried herbs to fresh is 1:3. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil and you have dried on hand, use 1 teaspoon dried basil.
- Store herbs in a cool, dry place. I use a drawer near (not next to) my stove so the herbs stay cool. Jean B. sent me a great tip: she stores her dried herbs and spices in the freezer, so they last much longer. Just make sure everything is well labeled. Crushing the frozen leaves between your fingers will release more of the volatile oils and help make the herbs more fragrant.
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