When I was young, my mom used to buy dry spices in 99 cent bulk-sized containers. They looked like sawdust and tasted worse. I always hated parsley because I only ever knew it as colored dust.
When I finally had access to fresh parsley, it was a revelation. It’s like I was colorblind my entire life and now, for the first time, I saw the details of the world.
Here’s what I don’t understand – why are we willing to pay for powdered herbs when we have access to the real deal? You can get them at the farmer’s market or grow them yourself, and the price tag of fresh herbs is not much higher than their dry commercial counterpart.
If you’re looking to drive the cost down even more you can look into self-sowing herbs. These plants combine convenience and affordability and the best part is that they cut down your cost over time because you don’t need to buy a new plant every few months or even cultivate them that often.
Herbs to Watch
So where do we begin?
- Basil: Basil is known as a mainstay of Italian cuisine, but it’s versatile flavor profile can take dishes from around the world to the next level. That being said, if it’s an easy pasta night or you are carbo-loading it would be criminal not to toss a little basil into the mix.
- Dill: Dilly, dilly! The beautiful thing about this herb is that a little bit can go along way. In other words – if you are experimenting then add this one with caution or it could overpower your dish.
- Cilantro: A great addition to food and drinks alike. The minty, fresh flavor keeps things light and airy.
- Oregano: My underrated, flavor-packed friend – toss a bit of this onto any fish to add an easy kick of flavor.
Spicing Things Up
Keep in mind that fresh herbs are inexpensive and an easy way to spice up any dish.
All it takes is a sprig to liven up your meal. Fresh basil in salad, oregano on salmon. Dill will snazz up your tuna salad and scrambled eggs.
Don’t believe me? Let’s have a cook-off!
Try making these recipes using fresh herbs and compare it to those Plain Jane meals you always make with your dried herbs. (No need to tell me which wins – I already know the answer.)
Dill Tuna Salad from Genius Kitchen:
Lemon Oregano Salmon from Recipe Girl:
Tomato Basil Salad from the Food Network:
Preserving Herbs without Pureeing them to Powder
Now before you think I’m contradicting myself – preserving herbs is not the same as drying then out. Preserving doesn’t grind up these powerful ingredients until they lose their value. It’s right there in the word – you’re preserving the flavor, not overprocessing it.
Want to try it yourself?
Better Homes & Gardens lays out four simple methods for making your herbs last year-round.