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Using Herbs


Once you have used fresh herbs in cooking you will be spoiled! Their special flavor and aroma contributes greatly to the enjoyment of food.

There are no rules when cooking with herbs. Start to experiment using small amounts of herbs and see what you like. The following ideas may help you get started:

  • A good general rule of thumb is not to mix two very strong herbs together, but rather one strong and one or more milder flavors to complement both the stronger herb and the food.
  • In general, the weaker the flavor of the main staple item, the lower the level of added seasoning required to achieve a satisfactory balance of flavor in the end product.
  • Dried herbs are stronger than fresh, and powdered herbs are stronger than crumbled. A useful formula is: 1/4 teaspoon powdered herbs = 3/4 to 1 teaspoon crumbled = 2 teaspoons fresh.
  • Leaves should be chopped very fine because the more cut surface exposed the more flavor will be released.
  • Be conservative in the amount of an herb used until you're familiar with its strength. The aromatic oils can be strong and objectionable if too much is used.
  • The flavoring of herbs is lost by extended cooking. Add herbs to soups or stews about 45 minutes before completing the cooking. But for cold foods such as dips, cheese, vegetables and dressings, herbs should be added several hours or overnight before using.
  • For casseroles and hot sauces, add finely chopped fresh or dried herbs directly to the mixture.
  • To become familiar with the specific flavor of an herb, try mixing it with margarine or butter, let it set for at least an hour, and spread on a plain cracker.
  • Try herbs as a flavoring in vinegars or "butters." Use one cup of "bruised" leaves for every 2 cups of white wine vinegar. Allow to steep two weeks. Use 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs to 1/2 cup margarine, butter, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt or cream cheese.

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