One of the most attractive qualities of fresh herbs is their intense fragrance and flavor, especially with just-picked ones. Unfortunately, as the cold weather approaches, snipping some fresh mint and basil leaves from the garden is no longer an option.
With that comes the inevitable question: Is it worth buying dried herbs when you don’t have access to fresh ones? Well, it depends. Some herbs work better dried whereas some are definitely not worth your money.
To figure out which is which, we turned to Bruce Bromberg, co-owner of the Blue Ribbon Restaurants, who feels very passionately about the subject. What gets him the most? “Dried basil is my number one offender! While the dehydrated versions of rosemary, oregano, and even dill still possess some of their better half's best qualities and characteristics, basil, once dried, misses the mark.”
As he explains, when herbs are dried, they lose their water content and oils, which also means some of their brightness, especially for leafy herbs like basil. Dried herbs come in handy though when you don’t have access to fresh ones (like in the colder months) and for dishes that have longer cooking times. While some herbs, like oregano, benefit from drying, others, like mint, definitely don’t.
When substituting dried herbs for fresh in a recipe, Bromberg says that as a general rule with leafy herbs like basil and parsley, “I go with a 2-1 ratio and sometimes a little less. For other herbs, like rosemary, I go with a 1-1 ratio.” What to do if you have leftover herbs that you aren’t going to use? Instead of letting them go bad in the fridge, he recommends drying them yourself by placing them on a rack in a warm spot for a few days.
To find out more about which herbs you should buy dried over fresh, check out what Bromberg has to say on the matter.