Getting to Know Herbs

Fresh herbs are wonderful, and dried herbs are wonderfully convenient. Either way, herbs can really add pizzazz to your cooking. Herbs are produced from the stems and leaves of a variety of plants, while spices can come from a plant’s roots, seeds, bark, buds, or berries.

Dried herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh herbs. So when substituting dried herbs for fresh, use just 1/3 of the amount required for fresh herbs. To get the most flavor from dried herbs, crush them briefly between your fingers before adding them to a dish.

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A Few Good Herbs
Herb Description
Basil Pungent, sweet flavor. Available as fresh sprigs or crumbled dry.
Bay leaf Strong, herbaceous taste. Sold as a whole, dried leaf.
Chervil Quite aromatic, with delicate licorice-like flavor. Available as fresh sprigs (mostly in summer) or crumbled dry.
Chives Delicate mild-onion flavor. Sold in thin fresh stalks, chopped, or dried.
Cilantro or Chinese parsley Extremely pungent and aromatic. Sold in fresh, curly-leafed bunches.
Dill Delicate caraway flavor. Sold in feathery, fresh bunches or as dried seeds.
Marjoram A little like oregano in taste, but much milder and sweeter. Sold fresh or crumbled dry. An extremely versatile herb.
Mint Fresh scent and a sweet, pungent flavor. Most common varieties are standard peppermint and spearmint. Sold in fresh bunches or crumbled dry.
Oregano Intense flavor. Sold fresh or crumbled dry. A little goes a long way.
Parsley Fresh-flavored and slightly tart. Available year-round in fresh bunches or crumbled dry.
Rosemary Quite aromatic, needle-shaped leaves smell a little like lemon and pine. Mince the leaves finely before using.
Sage Green-gray or purple oval leaves with a slightly bitter mint taste. Available in fresh sprigs, crumbled dry, and ground. Use sparingly.
Savory Full-bodied herb that some people say tastes like a cross between mint and thyme. Fresh sprigs available seasonally. Crumbled dry available year-round.
Tarragon Aromatic herb with assertive, licorice-like flavor. Sold as fresh whole sprigs, crumbled dry, and whole dried leaves.
Thyme Tiny leaves with minty aroma and tealike taste. Sold as fresh sprigs and crumbled dry. Fresh varieties include lemon, orange, and French (the common variety).
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