It is always preferable to use fresh herbs. If you are not fortunate enough to have an herb garden of your own, herbs are often available at fruit and vegetable stands in season. Some herbs grow well in a sunny kitchen. A good way to familiarize yourself with various herbs is to blend 1 to 11/2 tablespoons of the chopped fresh herb into 1/4 cup softened butter. Spread on plain crackers and taste.
Dried and crushed or ground herbs are readily available. Substitute less than a teaspoon of ground or about 1 teaspoon crushed herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Crushed herbs can be soaked in a small amount of liquid (oil, brandy, wine, stock, water, etc.) before using, which will intensify and enhance the flavor. Add the soaking liquid to the recipe with the herb if desired.
Purchasing Dried Herbs
1. Buy small amounts of the best dried herbs available-this is no place to economize.
2. Store herbs in tightly-covered containers away from strong light.
3. Crush dried herbs between your fingers before using to release all of the flavor.
4. Herbs lose strength with age, so do not hesitate to discard herbs that have lost their aroma and taste-even if the bottle is nowhere near empty.