Dried herbs and spices are an important tool in any pantry. With dried herbs and spices you can transform simple dishes into something special, flavorful and different each day. Here are 10 tips and helpful information about using dried herbs and spices.
10 Tips for Using Dried Herbs and Spices
- Date the bottles. When you open new bottle, be sure to write the date on the container. Dried herbs and spices last from 6 months to 1 year. They don’t spoil, but they do lose their potency and flavor.
- Freshness. How to tell if your herbs and spices are old? The smell test. If they don’t have a strong fragrance, the flavor is likely gone. Toss them and buy a new bottle.
- Buy new-to-you herbs and spices in small quantities to experiment, then in larger quantities to save money when you find the ones you use most frequently.
- Storage. Store herbs and spices in a cool dark place, away from sunlight and heat. Sun and heat accelerate their expiration. Some people store them in the freezer for longer staying power. And make sure the container is airtight.
- Dried herbs and spices need time and moisture to rehydrate during cooking to release their flavor. Add dried herbs around the start of cooking to help them rehydrate and release their flavor. With spices it will depend on the recipe. One example, I will add mine to sautéing onions and oil to release their scent and flavor when making a chili, stew or sauce.
- The rule for substituting dried herbs for fresh is 1:3. Example, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs versus 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of a fresh herb. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so you use less. Their taste can also be a bit different than the fresh version. As always, taste and adjust for your personal preference. Use more if needed.
- Rub dried herbs between your hands to release the natural oils before putting into the pot. A trick my mom taught me years ago.
- Herb or spice? Dried herbs are the leaves of the plants. Spices are from the stems, bark (like cinnamon) and seeds of plants. Some plants produce both. Cilantro is the leaf form of the plant and coriander is the seed which is ground into a spice (or used whole)
- Spices are most often used in dried form. Some come in whole and ground forms, such as nutmeg, mace and cinnamon. Whole spices can stay aromatic for longer periods, but you have to grind them yourself. Ground is usually more convenient to use.
- To reduce sodium in your diet, ramp up the flavors with herbs, spices and salt-free blends to make up for less salt that you won’t miss because of the great flavors.
Note – The original post had a giveaway of herbs and spice which ended long ago. This post is now updated to remove the giveaway.