Fresh Herbs 101

November 19, 2012

Fresh herbs can be purchased year round and even grown in a pot on your windowsill. Here’s a quick reference on shopping for fresh herbs

Fresh herbs are located in the produce section, and are sold in small bunches (and sometimes in pots), used to add piquant flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.
How to Buy:
Should have clean, fresh fragrance; no wilting or black spots; intense green color (except sage, pale grey-green). 
Thyme, oregano, basil, tarragon, rosemary, mint, dill, sage, flat or curly parsley, marjoram, chives, chervil, cilantro (aka coriander, Chinese or Mexican parsley.)
How to Store:
Wrap herbs in damp paper towel, place in tightly-sealed plastic bag for up to 5 days or store stem-end down in glass of water with the tops covered with plastic bag. Use quickly to preserve fragrance and flavor.
Can be frozen: wash, dry, place in tightly-sealed plastic bag or mince washed leaves in food processor with a little water to form a paste. Pour paste into ice cube trays, freeze; put frozen cubes into a tightly-sealed plastic bag and keep frozen.
How to Use: To prep: wash, blot with paper towel or dry in salad spinner.  
To use: strip off leaves by running your fingers down the stem from top to bottom or cut with sharp paring knife. Use 3x more fresh herbs than dried for best flavor and add at the end of cooking.
Cilantro: Asian, Caribbean, Mexican foods; Chives: dips, tomatoes, potatoes; Basil: peas, tomatoes, zucchini; Dill: vegetables, fish, cheese; Mint: fruits, grains, lamb, brew for tea; Oregano: Italian dishes, lentils, stews; Parsley: soups, salads, garnish; Rosemary: chicken, fish, meats, stews, tomatoes; Sage: poultry, stuffing; Thyme: eggs, beans, poultry, potatoes. Thyme or basil are also good in ice cream.
Health Benefits: High in flavonoids, antioxidants; parsley or mint can help freshen breath.
Smarter Shopping: Buy fresh herbs in pots; they grow for years.
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