When it comes to cooking, herbs and spices are not just to add color or to make a dish more presentable. Often, they play a significant role in adding aroma, exciting flavors, and creative twist to a particular dish.
However, not many are familiar with the proper use of fresh and dried ingredients such as herbs and spices for cooking. Many may wonder what ¼ cup fresh basil to dried is or the correct conversion if you are other fresh herbs in replacement to dried ones.
Fresh Herbs to Dried Herbs
As mentioned, spices and herbs play an essential role in a specific dish. However, not many are aware of the proper ways of using fresh and dried herbs and how to convert measurements for fresh herbs to dried herbs.
It would be best to keep in mind how these herbs will play a part in your dish, for starters. For instance, using dried basil to replace fresh ones will only work for recipes that use it in small amounts. Consequently, it is not advisable to use dried basil as the main ingredient for making pesto.
In comparison, fresh herbs like basil contain 80% water. When this herb is dried, it will lose all the moisture and have a more concentrated flavor. That is why, when using dried basil in replacement for fresh ones, it will ideally require less of it.
As a general rule, when converting fresh basil to dried, most cooking experts will advise that you use twice as much fresh basil as you would with dried ones. This means that you will use a two-is-to-one ratio when converting fresh basil to dried.
For example, the recipe requires ¼ cup fresh basil. To convert this using the two-is-to-one ratio, ¼ cup fresh basil to dried will call for two tablespoons of it.
Cooking: Fresh vs. Dried Herbs
Aside from the correct conversion when using fresh vs. dried herbs such as basil, you also need to familiarize yourself with the appropriate way of using it in your recipes. You need to understand that fresh and dried herbs are added to the dish in various stages during the cooking process.
For instance, when you are using dried herbs, you need to add them during the dish’s cooking process. This will allow its flavors to infuse into the dish for the flavors to stand out. Before adding dried herbs to your dish, you should crush the flakes in the palm of your hand.
In doing so, the aromatic oils and the intense flavor of the herb will be released. This will easily help boost the taste of your dish. Moreover, dried herbs like basil are best used in stews, cooked sauces, and soups. They are also often used in spice rubs.
On the other hand, fresh herbs are often added to the dish towards the cooking process’s end. This is to preserve the structure, color, and appearance of the herbs. In some dishes, fresh herbs like basil are sprinkled on top before serving.
Fresh herbs are often used in salsas and salad dressings. It is also often used as a garnish in certain dishes for a beautiful pop of color. You can either snip or chiffonade your fresh herbs. You can use a bowl or a measuring cup and place your fresh herbs in it. Using a kitchen scissor, cut the leaves in short, quick strokes.
Meanwhile, to chiffonade fresh herbs, roll up the leaves together and cut across the roll to produce a bunch of thin shreds or strips.
Storage: Fresh vs. Dried Herbs
Another essential aspect that you need to remember is how to store your fresh and dried herbs. This will help preserve the flavors and ensure that the ingredients you are using are still viable for consumption.
To properly store fresh herbs like basil, you need to store them as you would with flowers. Use a small jar with a couple of inches of water. Cut the leaves of the herb ½ inch from the bottom of the stem.
Place them in the jar in a standing position and cover the leaves loosely with plastic. If you notice wilted leaves, you need to discard them.
Meanwhile, when dried herbs are stored incorrectly, they could easily lose their potency and flavor. The best way to store them is by using airtight jars and keep them in your pantry or spice cabinet.
It would help if you constantly check how long you have kept your dried herbs. Ideally, a year later, from initial storage, the dried herbs’ quality will start to deteriorate. You can discard and replace them with new dried herbs.
In case you are not sure if the stored dried herbs are still viable for usage, you can make a quick assessment by sniffing through the stored dried herbs. If it still has a significant potency to it, then it can still be used.
However, if your stored dried herbs lose the aroma, you can discard them since these will no longer add flavor to your dish.