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Old 07-05-2017, 08:19 AM   #1
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Fresh herbs or dried? spice powder or paste?

My question is very simple! When, in your opinion, is it better to use fresh herbs rather than dried, and when is it better to use spice pastes rather than powder? Obviously, if we live somewhere where it's hard to actually get an ingredient, we have to make use of what's there, and convenience is always a factor. But when is it actually better to use one rather than the other, and if you do go for one option rather than the other, what, in your opinion, is the difference? Dried basil vs. fresh, for example.

The question came into my mind when I saw Nigella Lawson in one of her programmes using a dried herb rather than the fresh one, but she simply said it was better. I have great respect for you all on this site, and look forward to your opinions.


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Old 07-05-2017, 09:17 AM   #2
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Herbs with woody stems dry well because they don't lose much flavor; in fact, flavors are concentrated with the evaporation of their water. Examples are bay laurel, sage, thyme and rosemary.

Soft herbs lose their flavors much more readily when dried. Examples are cilantro, chives, dill and parsley.

Commercial producers can freeze these soft herbs so fast that some of the flavors are retained, but they're not as good as fresh. This can't be accomplished in most home freezers.
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:49 AM   #3
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Things that are cooked for a relatively long time -- dry herbs

Short cook -- fresh

Uncooked -- fresh

Spice pastes and powders aren't interchangeable, IMO
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
Things that are cooked for a relatively long time -- dry herbs

Short cook -- fresh

Uncooked -- fresh

Spice pastes and powders aren't interchangeable, IMO
I'm lucky to have tons of fresh parsley in the garden all year. I never use dried, or dried cilantro, or dried basil, no matter how long it takes to cook something. I freeze extra garden basil in water in ice cube trays and then store them in freezer bags. I use them in soups, stews and sauces in the winter.

I agree about the spice pastes and powders. It depends on what you're making. If you're making a Thai curry, you need a paste. If you're making grilled or baked meats and poultry, or Mexican dishes like fajitas, dry spice mixes work fine.
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I'm lucky to have tons of fresh parsley in the garden all year. I never use dried, or dried cilantro, no matter how long it takes to cook something.

I agree about the spice pastes and powders. It depends on what you're making. If you're making a Thai curry, you need a paste. If you're making grilled or baked meats and poultry, or Mexican dishes like fajitas, dry spice mixes work fine.
Agreed. I never use dried ever of either. I should have incorporated your comment iabout woody stems into my subsequent post.

My Boston parsley plant is going like gangbusters but my Cape Cod plant is troubled Just the opposite for my tomatoes ...
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:57 AM   #6
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If I have fresh herbs on hand, that's what I tend to use. The one exception is oregano. For whatever reason, to me it tastes better when dried.

Regarding when to use a paste. I find pastes convenient for certain dishes, such as Thai curry, that call for a lot of ingredients I'm not likely to have available, or just don't have the time to put together. Some of the canned/jarred pastes have very good flavor.
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Old 07-05-2017, 07:46 PM   #7
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Dill freezes really well.
I don't much, if any at all, flavor change when i use if frozen ( for cooking)

If I were sprinkling it on top of a salad or something like that, I'd only use fresh. But in soups or other cooked dishes, frozen is just fine, don't feel like I'm missing anything.
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:09 PM   #8
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Some herbs dry better than others. Two of the herbs I grow are oregano and basil. Oregano drys well, and gives a similar intensity of flavor to foods. Basil, from my experience does not dry well. It gets really weak.

There are other considerations, too, as some have said. I always add fresh basil at the last minute of cooking, where I have no problem tossing either dry or fresh oregano into the earlier parts of a cook. I dice fresh oregano small, and rub dry oregano between my hands over the cook to "wake up" oregano the flavor.

So, as I sees it, there is no right or wrong answer.

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Old 07-07-2017, 10:47 AM   #9
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for herbs, if it's got enough liquid and, cooks for long enough to rehydrate the dry herbs and, release the flavors, I use dried. Otherwise fresh.

Paste vs powder depends on the dish, cooking method and, seasonings desires, and what I have available. Take a smoked brisket, if it's spring or summer and I have fresh herbs it gets a wet rub (paste) if it's fall or winter and all I have are dry herbs, it gets a dry rub (powder) Generally, if it's going in a sauce or, the dish needs to be kept moist, it's a paste, if there is no sauce and, keeping what moisture I can in the food is not so important, powder is fine (unless I happen to have all of the herbs needed in fresh form.)

NOTE: I grow and dry my own herbs so, fresh is seasonal for me.
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:16 AM   #10
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When the soft herbs dry, their essential oils, where much of the flavor is, evaporate. They're gone and rehydrating does not bring them back.

I've been growing my own herbs for over 25 years. I'm also a master gardener and have given talks on growing and preserving herbs.
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