Is there a difference between fresh & dried herbs?
You betcha. Fresh herbs add a wondrous flavor & color to any recipe while imparting freshness from the get go. Whereas dried herbs are much more concentrated and stronger. When substituting with fresh herbs, you’ll need 2-3 times the amount called for in the recipe. For ex: 1t. dried herb=1 heaping T. fresh herbs, mostly leaves.
Are you supposed to use the whole sprig?
When a recipe calls for an amount of fresh herb, it refers to predominantly the leaves, with the exception of chives, where you use it all. Certain stems are perfectly acceptable to chop, while most others are much too woody. Cilantro stems hold much of the good flavor so be sure to use those. On the flip side, Parsley stems are too strong and work better as a deodorizer in the garbage disposal. The only other herb stems that are okay to chop and use would be those that are lighter, more delicate, like Basil and with soft top tendrils, such as really young, fresh Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram. Later in the season as these grow, the stems will lose that sweet tenderness and grow stiffer so discard at that point. With Rosemary, Sage, Lavender and certain varieties of Thyme, cut or strip the leaves from the sprig, then discard their thick or woody stems.
How should I store fresh herbs?
Storing fresh & dried herbs can be a challenge. Always store dried herbs away from any heat source- get them out of that cabinet that hugs the stove, microwave and oven! Try buying small packets of the ones you like to work with and replace every 6 months as the freshness will quickly fade once opened. Fresh herbs are perishable and should be used within a day or two once they’ve arrived home. Basil is best left at room temperature. There are several types of herb keepers that stay in the refrigerator and work great! http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/cuisipro-herb-keeper/
What can you do with leftover fresh herbs?
Should you have leftovers, there are lots of ideas outside of your one recipe. Pesto doesn’t have to be just Basil- try other fresh herbs with or alone. Fill ice cube tray with water, drop in a few herb leaves and freeze for summer drinks (you can do the same with edible flowers). When the winter months get dreary, buy a bunch of fresh flat leaf Italian Parsley and keep in a vase by the kitchen window. Add a handful to a floral bouquet to freshen it up. Chop up what’s left and add to ground burger mixture. Toss in with a salad. Place sprigs of Rosemary, Oregano, or Thyme atop vegetables and roast. Place a bundle on a cedar plank under fish or chicken, then grill. Are ya with me? Soooo many ideas. Share what you’ve discovered!