Description Dried herbs, as the name suggests are herbs that have been cleaned, sorted and dried in the sun. Dried herbs are more convenient and less expensive than fresh ones. However, one must remember that most herbs take on a different flavour after drying. Also, they have a more concentrated flavour than fresh herbs - 1 tsp dried herbs is equivalent to 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs.
Apart from individual dried herbs, a variety of herb mixes are also readily available in the market. These offer a quick and convenient way of adding several flavours to a recipe at one go. A mix of marjoram, sage, thyme, basil, mint and savoury is ideal for seasoning.
How to Select
• Dried whole herbs, i.e., where the leaves are still attached to their stalk tend to be fresher and have a stronger flavour than loose leaves sold in packets/bottles. However, you might have to go to specialty stores to procure such whole herbs, as most stores stock only the loose leaves variety.
• When buying dried herbs, check the seal of the package and the use-by date.
• Choose a reliable brand to avoid contamination or adulteration with other ordinary leaves.
• Mixed herbs is just right for boosting the flavour of pasta sauces, soups, stews, stuffing, breads, marinades, butter, salad dressings, stocks, vinegars, vinaigrettes, and even some desserts, drinks and confectionaries.
• Dried herbs are also suitable for use as a garnish. Mixed herbs work well with vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.
• Mixed herbs combine well with pizza toppings too. • Mixed herbs can also be used to flavour omelettes and cheese dishes.
• When making foods like herbed butter, you might want to soften the dried herbs by soaking for a few hours in a suitable liquid.
• Sometimes it is better to crush the herbs before using in recipes to draw out their full flavour. You can do this by simply rubbing the dried herbs between your fingers and hands.
• If you find that low fat or low salt foods taste bland, you can use herbs to enhance their flavour.
• Generally, herbs are delicately flavoured, so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.
How to Store
• Store dried mixed herbs in an airtight container, in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture as well.
• Dried herbs stay good for up to a year from when they were dried and packaged.
• To check for freshness, smell the herbs. If the aroma has gone, the flavour will have diminished too and the herbs should be discarded.
• A jar of mixed herbs typically comprises basil, marjoram, oregano and thyme, each of which has high levels of healthy antioxidants.
• Most herbs, especially rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme have significant amounts of flavonoids, which can act as antioxidants to protect LDL cholesterol from being oxidised, inhibit the formation of blood clots, and provide anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour activity.
• Herbs are rich in vitamins, and in minerals, chlorophyll and natural antibiotics.
• Many herbs have valuable alkalising benefits.
• Herbs may also contain pain-relieving properties, aid in digestion, and strengthen the immune system.
• When using herbs for flavouring, we can reduce the need for salt, sugar and artificial flavourings, which will lead to great health benefits in the long run.