Herbs can make or break a dish. You add more of one type of herb and your dish will not taste the way you want it to be. You chop an herb that should not be according to a recipe and you get the wrong taste. Indeed, cooking with herbs can be daunting.
If you are just starting to cook, it is best that you know all the common herbs from what they look like or their taste. When you do, you should know how to make them readily available. A dish may not be complete without a single herb. Take for example the case of an authentic Italian pizza without dried oregano or basil thyme, it may not taste like a real Italian pizza at all.
Here are some tips that you should always bear in mind when cooking with herbs:
Maintain an Indoor Herb Garden
Having an indoor herb garden will ensure that you will not be out of herbs when you need them. Plant the herbs you usually use. Knowing how the right temperature, water, and sunlight is the key to a flourishing indoor herb garden. This means that you have a ready supply of fresh herbs when you need them for cooking.
Learn How to Store Fresh Herbs
If you cannot maintain an indoor herb garden or some herbs just cannot thrive in your indoor garden, you can store some of them in your fridge or in the produce bin. Wrap the stems with damp paper. When putting herbs in the fridge, be sure to bring them on top so you can see and use them before they rot.
Another way to maintain the freshness of herbs is by freezing them. Chop the herbs, toss them into a tray until frozen. Remove them from the tray and transfer them to freezer-safe bags. They will turn out as fresh when you chop them.
Know When to Use Dried or Fresh Herbs
There are dishes that require dried herbs. When you have dried herbs, restocking them is important. You can also rub them in between your fingers to get their flavor out before tossing them into the pot. Dried herbs are usually added when cooking is in progress. In contrast, fresh herbs are added when the dish is nearly cooked.
Buy Dried Herbs in Bulk
You may not know when to use them, so you should buy dried herbs in bulk. They will not rot anyway. You are not only ensuring ready supply, but you are also saving money for sure. Make sure to store dried herbs away from the heat.
Understand Recipe Books Lingo
Sometimes, we may get confused with what recipe books are referring to. If you see “chopped basil leaves,” it may mean a little different to a recipe that says, “basil leaves, chopped.” The former suggests that you chop before measuring it. The latter means that you measure it before chopping. There seems no difference but it does have.
Use Olive Oil When Freezing Herbs
When freezing herbs, using olive oil can be better than using water. Olive oil prevents the herb from turning brown. You can also just drop off the cube of herb and olive oil in your stew.
Strip Leaves Correctly
When stripping leaves of woody herbs, use your hand and zip downwards to the direction of the roots. With succulent herbs, pinch the leaves close to the base or you can use scissors. The stems can be used for broths, so you can store them for future cooking.
Learn the Right Cut
You may have gone to restaurants and wonder how they came up with those cuts. Each recipe may require you to chop, mince, slice, or chiffonade. Try mastering these ways on how to cut herbs. They can add to the visual appeal of your meal.
Label Stored Dried Herbs
Even if you think that you know you can identify one dried herb to another, you can get it all mixed up when you are rushing or when you are absent-minded while cooking. It is best to label them. You can also make sure that anyone who takes over your cooking chores knows what they will be mixing in their dishes.
Plan Your Meals for the Week
You may be forced to change your planned dish if you don’t have the necessary herbs, or you may push through knowing you will be coming up with a dish that is incomplete. If you do not have an indoor garden and that you need fresh herbs, it is best to make a meal plan for a week. This way, you are sure that you have all the herbs you need in preparing meals.
Indeed, it may not be a good idea to cook food without the necessary herbs. For sure, it will be hard to expect accolades for a delicious meal from anyone who has partaken in a dish you served without the right herbs.