Ask Chef: Herbs

Q: Chef, what’s the rule of thumb when it comes to using fresh or dried herbs?

A: In the majority of cases, one tablespoon of fresh herbs equals one teaspoon of dry herbs. However, you should also consider the context of the herb in the recipe. There are cases where the use of dried or fresh herbs is not interchangeable. Consider pesto or a caprese salad. Both these dishes should be made with fresh basil due to taste, texture and moisture content. Additionally, consider the quantity of the food being spiced. It is easier to integrate a tablespoon of fresh chives throghout a cup of freshly mashed potatoes than it is to evenly distribute a teaspoon.

Also keep in mind that when first opened, packaged dried herbs have a highly concentrated taste, but their flavors fade with age. So if the jar is freshly opened, use a lighter hand. If the herb is older, don’t be afraid to use it liberally.

One last tip. Ginger. Fresh ginger and ground ginger are absolutely not interchangeable because the flavors are completely different. Fresh ginger is best used for sauteing savory dishes, or for steeping in tea. Save the ground ginger for your sweeter baked desserts.

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