There are few things that bother me more than throwing away food. When trying to eat cleanly this can be difficult since most foods that are minimally processed have a short shelf life and time doesn’t always allow for frequent trips to the grocery store to get the freshest ingredients. So what happens? I take my carefully prepared shopping list to the grocery store with everything I need for all the recipes I am preparing for that week’s meals plus the other odds and ends that my family needs.
Stopping Herb Waste
The fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains are either in my cart or already in the house. No problem. But the herbs…those darn herbs. They always seem to go to waste. Sure there are ways to store them but for one reason or another those methods have never worked for me. My solution, skip the fresh herbs and instead use dried herbs. I have to say it really works.
I used to be embarrassed to say I use dried herbs because I thought I was supposed to be all virtuous and use only fresh ingredients. But then I learned that dried herbs and spices may actually be better since they are a more concentrated form of the herb or spice allowing a more powerful nutritional punch.
An example of how fresh isn’t always best.
Now that I made this discovery, my days of finding lifeless thyme sprigs and wilted leaves of basil in my refrigerator are over. I also can make meals in a pinch because I have many of the needed herbs and spices already in my pantry.
“Rules” for using Dried Herbs in Place of Fresh
- Dried Herb to Fresh Herb Ratio is 1:3. Since dried herbs offer a more concentrated flavor, less is needed in recipes. In a recipe the unit used for fresh herbs is a tablespoon. 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon, therefore when a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme, you would substitute 1 teaspoon of dried thyme in its place.
1 tsp dried = 1 Tbsp fresh
- Fresh herbs are added after cooking to preserve their color and flavor. However, since dried herbs need time for their flavor to penetrate the dish it is best to use them early on.
Tips to Using Dried Herbs and Spices:
- Purchase small amount of dried herbs and spices since once they are opened they only last 6 months
- Purchase brands that have “Best By” dates
- Store in airtight containers away from heat, moisture or sunlight