Fresh herbs vs dried herbs

donnar57July 15, 2013

For years, I've been using oregano and basil in my Italian cooking. I usually use McCormick or similar --- dried herbs.

I had a small plot in my yard that's been begging for something to be grown in it, and I had a need for mint leaves for a drink. Off I went to buy fresh mint at our local Sprout's (produce store), only to find that it came with its roots! So, I took out some planting soil and planted it in that little plot. That was about a week ago, and that plant is just flourishing!

Off I went back to Sprouts today, and bought one of the same in Oregano and Basil, those two herbs I use so often. My husband told me, "oh, but you'll be drying them."

Can fresh oregano and basil be used in spaghetti sauce, without drying it first?

Donna

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ruthanna_gw

Absolutely! I use a rule of 3X as much chopped fresh herbs as the quantity of dried in a recipe and vice-versa.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 1:49PM
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publickman

A lot of times I add the fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process - especially the basil. You will get a different flavor from fresh basil than you do from dried basil, similar to the difference between dried chilies and fresh chilies. Anyway, I add the basil just before serving, but I add fresh oregano and thyme about 10 minutes before serving. Sometimes I use both dried and fresh herbs, for variety. Some of the fresh oregano can be overpowering, as each plant is different, depending on the soil and growing conditions. Fresh oregano is especially good in salad dressings.

Like Ruthanna, I use 3X as much fresh herbs as dried.

Lars

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:25PM
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grainlady_ks

I'd suggest putting your mint in a container. It's one of the most invasive herbs and will quickly take over your garden. Those roots find their way into everything!!!

Other helpful hints:

-The best time to pick herbs is in the cool of the morning and you can start harvesting in the spring as soon as they are producing leaves big enough to harvest. You don't have to wait until the plant matures. Generally speaking, the more you harvest them the fuller they will become. Most of them you will also want to keep from blooming in order to harvest more.

-You can harvest until the first frost, but the "best" herbs for drying are picked before the heat of the summer. The flavors tend to fade in the heat. This means you may fine you need to use more dried herbs the later in the year they are harvested and dried due to loss of flavor from summer heat.

-In the fall I like to pick everything I can and make herb butter for the freezer and bottles of herb vinegar. Both make nice add-ins for holiday baskets.

-If you have a nice sunny south window you can pot many of your herbs and bring them in for the winter. Some herbs winter indoors better than others, but I consider fresh herbs my first source for REAL fresh food for winter use full of great nutrition, enzymes and antioxidants. I usually have rosemary, chives, parsley and basil indoors.

Enjoy your new garden "friends". ;-)

-Grainlady

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 4:42PM
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chas045

I was already formulating a warning about mints before I saw grainlady's post. I have a lot more room and have left mints alone but have regretted it even when I wasn't worried about anything growing with it. It spreads in a solid mass and it is physically hard to dig out.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 5:20PM
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cloudy_christine

Yes, get that mint into a pot while you still can!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 5:53PM
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susytwo

Another recommendation to pot that mint! Mine took over very quickly. It's now contained, but it was a chore to tame.

I also have a beautiful sage bush, some type of perennial basil, and a pretty rosemary bush that looks like an evergreen. I've inserted all the herb plants in different places around the garden. I prune them frequently and aggressively to keep them from blooming, but to also give them an ornamental shape so they look very nice among all the other plants in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 9:49PM
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sleevendog

With not much experience growing herbs i agree it is best to pot the mint. And keep the 'runners' that reach out of your pot from touching the ground...they will grab the soil and put out roots in a mater of days. Just cut or pinch off and use those cuttings.
The basil could be potted as well. It needs all day sun or at least the most sunny spot you have. It likes a sandy, well drained soil. Does not like to be too wet or slogged. Potting it will allow you to move it if needed as the sun moves toward winter and makes it easier to bring it indoors...it likes full all day southern exposure and will thrive in a window.
Oregano is very tolerant and will grow easily once established. Like sage it will keep contained all on its own and become a small shrub. Mine come up every year without talking to it.
(both freeze well) And drying is an option. I use my food saver for most thick-leaf herbs.
pureed with olive oil and frozen in cubes for tender-leaf ones.
My gardens are not tamed per-say. I like a bit rustic, but i have been organic gardening for many years and know individual needs by experience. I've made plenty of garden 'fouls' but some happy accidents. My mints are running wild but in spots that i don't mind...and when they miss-behave and start to crawl, i mow them back. They have become a companion to my groundcovers in heavy clay soil.
The GW herb forum is a fun place to stop by. Especially if you get the gardening 'bug'. : )

-herbs are much different fresh. Use less, experiment. They can overpower and make a sauce taste like a bottle of perfume. Yet so good in summer italian dishes when used sparingly.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:31AM
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publickman

I have mint in the ground, and it is behaving itself and barely growing, but then I have bad soil, I guess, although the tomatoes like it. I've had problems with sage and tarragon taking over, and I don't even like tarragon. I find fresh sage to be a bit overpowering, and so I only use dried sage now. I like to keep most of my herbs in pots so that I can keep them closer to the kitchen, but I am thinking of putting the lemongrass into the ground, since it likes to spread and quickly outgrows the pots. I'm wondering if I can plant the seeds that it is making.

Lars

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 1:34PM
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compumom

Can anyone advise me about planting rosemary shrubs? A home that I visited recently had a very extensive landscape design and the rosemary shrubs were very attractive and fragrant. I would like to incorporate some into our garden redesign too. We live in an area where it's mostly low humidity, summer temps can top 100 and winter temps can drop into the low 40's.
I'd like to suggest this to the landscaper who will be taking on our project, however I'd like to have good info prior to choosing a location in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 1:48PM
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publickman

Ellen, you should visit the California Garding Forum and ask the people there - they are very helpful and will be very familiar with your growing conditions.

I think any rosemary plant will grow into a shrub, given the space and water. The Ralphs Waterside Marina Market has rosemary shrubs in their parking lot (or used to), and I used to get my rosemary from there, although I have my own plant now.

Lars

Here is a link that might be useful: Rosemary hedge on Calif gardening forum

This post was edited by publickman on Tue, Jul 16, 13 at 15:11

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:05PM
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sally2_gw

Rosemary is hardy to zone 8, and even some varieties might be hardy to zone 7b. It needs full sun and well drained soil. They can get fairly large, (at least 4 feet by 4 feet) eventually, so give them space. That's it. I love using it as an evergreen shrub and for cooking. I try to place rosemary near entryways or pathways, so the aroma can be enjoyed. They have beautiful blue or pink flowers, too. Here in North Texas they bloom late winter into early spring.

As for dried basil, I've never noticed it having any flavor at all. Maybe that's because I'm used to using fresh basil. I tend to grow basil in the summer and cilantro in the winter. It works out well.

I do occasionally use dried thyme and dried oregano, but since I usually have fresh available, I'm more likely to use those. Although, I have come across recipes, or seen cooks on tv that specified they preferred dried over fresh in some recipes. Unfortunately, I don't remember which recipes. Opposite of what's been suggested above for fresh herbs, if using dried herbs, it's best to add them towards the beginning of cooking.

Sally

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 10:11AM
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