Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

Fresh herbs are always better than dried

Most chefs prefer their herbs to be fresh, and the fact is you cannot go wrong this way. But for some herbs, dried can be just as good for cooking. The difference is in the nature of the flavor compounds. For some, the flavor compounds are volatile and are removed by the drying process. Basil is an example and adding dried basil to a dish provides no flavor, just green flecks! Other herbs, typically those that grow in hot, dry climates, have flavor compounds that survive drying and work just fine in cooked dishes (as well as being cheaper and more convenient). Here’s a guide:

Best used fresh:

  • Basil
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon

OK to use dried (in cooking):

  • Bay leaf
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme

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