Oh my goodness! Cooking with herbs is just as much fun as growing them. Not only do I love the flavor they add to homemade foods, but I also enjoy using them as fun way to garnish food.
Growing up, our food was mainly seasoned with salt and pepper. The occasional seasoning packet would be used in spaghetti sauce and a bay leaf tossed in a pot of soup. So many of those seasoning packets contain gluten! Homemade meals are delicious yet they can taste blah if not seasoned properly.
I was in my early 30s when I discovered the wonderful world of cooking with herbs. My husband does not like chili powder and asked me not to cook with it. That one simple request, while a wee bit overwhelming at the time, opened up a whole new world for me!!! It was definitely a learning process. There is a big difference between cooking with fresh herbs and dried herbs. My indoor kitchen herb garden provides me with fresh herbs throughout the year.
Tips for Cooking with Fresh Herbs
- Fresh herbs require less cooking time so add them to your recipe at the end of the cooking time.
- Use a sharp knife or herb scissors to cut fresh herbs. This prevents bruising.
- Use 3 times more fresh herbs than what the recipe calls for.
How to Dry Herbs:
Drying your fresh herbs will save you money at the grocery store. For maximum flavor, use dried herbs between 4 to 6 months after preserving them. There are three methods you can use to dry your garden herbs.
- Air-drying. Pick fresh herbs and gather them in bunches. Tie each bunch of stems with a string, leaving a long end. Using the long end, hang the herb bunches upside down in a cool, dry place until they are completely dried.
- Drying in an electric oven. Preheat the oven to 100° F. Spread the herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set the baking sheet in the oven until the herbs are completely dried, about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Drying in a gas oven. Preheat oven to 200° F. and turn it off. Spread the herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set it in the warm oven, close the door and let the herbs sit until they are completely dried out, about 50 to 55 minutes.
How to Freeze Herbs
Freezing herbs protect their flavor even more than drying them. How you freeze it depends whether you want to freeze it as a whole sprig or as chopped leaves frozen in an ice-cube.
- Whole sprigs. Wash and spin-dry bushy herbs with a salad spinner. Pack in self-sealing freezer bags, label, date and freeze. Remove leaves as needed and refreezing the remaining leaves.
- Chopped leaves. Chop leaves of herbs, such as chives or parsley. Place 1 Tablespoon of chopped herb into each container of an ice-cube tray. Pour just enough water into each container to cover the herbs and freeze. Pop out the frozen herb cubes and store in freezer bags, label and date. When using in a recipe, add the cube and let it melt.
Growing herbs are so much fun. Cooking with herbs is so rewarding. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.