Best Ways to Use Fresh Herbs - Great Recipe and Use Ideas for Basil, Parsley, Coriander, Cilantro


Fresh herbs add so much zing to the aroma and taste of even the simplest meals - much more than dried herbs. The herbs you grow yourself and pick just before using are the best of the best, but fresh herbs can be bought at supermarkets and farmers markets that are generally OK.

Make sure there is no sign of wilting or browning on the leaves and herbs that have vibrant colors and lively aromas.

Always wash the fresh herbs well even if they are packaged nicely, to get rid of dirt and any chemical residues that may remain.

Tougher herbs with tiny leathery leaves like marjoram, rosemary and sage will stay alive and fragrant for 7-10 days in the refrigerator, or a couple of days at room temperature.

More delicate herbs, such as cilantro (coriander), tarragon,basil, dill and chervil, won't last as long and will require careful treatment to last more than a day or so.

Decisions about the best ways to use fresh herbs depend on what's available and what sort of dishes are appropriate for each herb.

Another consideration is nutrients. If several herbs are suitable, and two are available, it is best the use the one that is the most nutritious.

Fresh herbs can be expensive and it pays to use them wisely.

This article discussed the best ways to use fresh herbs, their nutrient data and health benefits.

It includes the herbs that are more commonly available fresh and which are easy to grow in your own garden - Basil, Parsley, Coriander, Cilantro, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Dill and Chervil.

Fresh herbs add delightful flavors and aromas to a wide variety of dishes and salads.
Fresh herbs add delightful flavors and aromas to a wide variety of dishes and salads.. Source: Pixabay

Storage and Preparation of Herbs

Only wash herbs just before you are ready to use them.

Any excess moisture left on the plants after washing tends to shortens their effective life in the refrigerator.

The best way to wash herbs and to save water is to, remove the roots and stems and then put them in a large bowl of cool water and swirl around to release grit and wash all the surfaces.

Take the herbs out and shake them dry. You can also use paper towels to dry them, but this is generally not required.

Always chop herbs with a very sharp knife or snip with sharp scissors. If the edges blacken your knife is too blunt and it is crushing rather than making clean slices.

The same applies to your blender or food processor - the blades need to be sharp. The more delicate the herb, the closer to cooking time you should chop the herbs.

When is the Best Time to Add the Herb?

The time the herb is added, and how finely you chop it or break apart, depends on both the herb and the effect you want.

Quick Guide for Using Fresh Herbs

Nutrients in Herbs

The table below compares the nutrients in 100 g of the most popular fresh herbs. This is a large amount, but is done to allow comparisons. The major points are:

General Guide for Use of Fresh Herbs

Basil

Basil is a close relative to mint, and has a very strong flavor and aroma, especially when first cut. There are two main types of basil: Asian basil, and Sweet, or Genoese, basil . In Western food, basil is mostly used in Mediterranean foods like pesto and pasta sauces, since it goes so well with tomato. Asian basil has a prominent anise flavor and is commonly used in stews, stir fries, soups and curry pastes.

Cilantro (Coriander)

Cilantro, also called coriander, is one of the most popular herbs and is a staple for Asian and Latin American cooking. It is generally added to a dish at the last minute or as a garnish. The roots are also used for Thai curry paste and other dishes.

Mint (many varieties)

Mint is generally used for with sweet treats and candies. Mint has a cool, refreshing peppery and slightly spicy taste that complements many savory dishes and is popular in many dishes from North Africa and the Middle East. Fresh mint is fabulous for summer salads and many side dishes. It provides a contrast in curries.

Parsley (many varieties)

Parsley is a very versatile and widely used herb with a relatively mild, slightly peppery flavor. It is commonly used in salads, sauces and is often sprinkled over dishes just before serving, sometimes as a substitute to cilantro. Italian parsley (Flat-leaf variety) has the best flavor and texture for cooking. The common curly parsley is best used as a a garnish and to add flavor to white sauces.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a tough, woody small shrub, rather than an annual herb like many of the others. The tiny, tough green leaves have a pungent flavor and distinct aroma. The leaves are used for a wide variety of dishes such as soups, meats (especially lamb), stews casseroles and sauces. Because the flavor of the leaves is intense it is best to add the rosemary sparingly at the start of the cooking to allow the flavors to dissipate through the dish as a mild background flavor. Rosemary stalks keep well if the stems are places in a glass of water.

Thyme

Thyme is a very popular herb in European and American cooking and is very versatile. It is used to flavor virtually any kind of poultry, fish, various meats. It is also great on vegetables. To use fresh thyme, simply strip some leaves off the stems with your fingers. Thyme keeps well in the refrigerator.

Sage

Most people probably use dried sage only once or twice a year for stuffing poultry at Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, this is a shame because there are many other delicious uses for the fresh herb, particularly for dishes that include with pork, potatoes, pumpkins, pulse, peas and beans. Many people enjoy the fabulous classic sage and brown butter sauce. Use sage sparingly because the flavor, especially when using dried sage can be overwhelming

Chives

Chives add a delicate and subtle flavor similar to onion but without the acidity and bite. They also add to the appearance of a dish when added as a garnish.

Dill

The feathery fronds and leaves of the dill plant impart a pleasant anise-like flavor to soups, salads, seafood and a variety of sauces. Dill is also widely used for fish and shellfish and its delicate tastes do not overwhelm foods with gentle of soft flavors. Dill is a favorite herbs for a variety of Middle Eastern and European dishes.

Oregano


Oregano has a pungent taste and aroma and is popular in many Mexican and Mediterranean and Mexican dishes. It is more widely available as a dried herb. It is popular for sprinkling on vegetables, fish and poultry dishes. It is also widely used for Foccacia and other breads and baked goods.

Serving 100 g
Basil
Chili
Cilantro Coriander
Dill
Parsley
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Calories (Cal)
19
40
25
45
26
118
83
72
Protein (g)
3.21
1.87
2.25
3.37
2.89
3.24
5.42
2.4
Total Fat (g)
0.57
0.44
0.5
1.12
0.79
5.88
1.67
2.4
Total Carbs (g)
2.64
8.8
3.75
6.97
6.32
20.59
24.58
10
Dietary Fiber (g)
1.89
1.56
2.5
2.25
2.63
14.71
12.5
4
Sugar (g)
0.38
5.29
0.75
 
0.79
 
 
0
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
18.87
143.78
27.5
85.39
134.21
20.59
158.33
5
Thiamin (mg)
0.04
0.07
0.08
0.07
0.08
0.03
0.04
0.04
Riboflavin (mg)
0.08
0.09
0.15
0.29
0.11
0.15
0.46
0.18
Niacin (mg)
0.91
1.24
1.13
1.57
1.32
0.91
1.83
1
Pantothenic Acid (mg)
0.21
0.2
0.58
0.4
0.39
0.79
0.42
0.4
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.15
0.51
0.15
0.18
0.08
0.32
0.33
0
Folate (mcg)
75.47
22.22
50
157.3
157.89
117.65
41.67
27
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Vitamin A (IU)
5283
951
6750
7708
8421
2912
4750
690
Vitamin E (mg)
0.75
0.69
2.5
 
0.79
 
 
2
Vitamin K (mcg)
415.09
14
310
 
1639.47
 
 
62
Minerals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calcium (mg)
169.81
13.33
75
202.25
131.58
323.53
416.67
158
Iron (mg)
3.21
1.02
1.75
6.52
6.32
6.76
17.5
0
Magnesium (mg)
56.6
22.22
25
44.94
52.63
88.24
166.67
27
Phosphorus (mg)
56.6
42.22
50
67.42
52.63
58.82
125
20
Potassium (mg)
301.89
322.22
525
741.57
552.63
676.47
625
167
Sodium (mg)
0
8.89
50
67.42
52.63
29.41
0
2
Zinc (mg)
0.75
0.27
0.5
0.9
1.05
0.88
1.67
0.44
Copper (mg)
0.38
0.13
0.23
0.13
0.16
0.29
0.54
0.94
Manganese (mg)
1.15
0.19
0.43
1.26
0.16
0.97
1.71
0.47




Garlic is the key ingredient for most pasta sauces.
Garlic is the key ingredient for most pasta sauces. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Fresh basil picked from a pot - beautiful and very tasty.
Fresh basil picked from a pot - beautiful and very tasty. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Lovely fresh mint is very aromatic.
Lovely fresh mint is very aromatic. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Fresh herbs and Spices really improve most dishes, including desserts.
Fresh herbs and Spices really improve most dishes, including desserts. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Lovely cilantro or coriander has a delightful taste and aroma.
Lovely cilantro or coriander has a delightful taste and aroma. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Garlic and oinion pairs so well with fresh herbs.
Garlic and oinion pairs so well with fresh herbs. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Pesto Rosso and Pesto Verde.
Pesto Rosso and Pesto Verde. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Garlic is the key ingredient for most pestos but you can use lots of other ingredients for delightful variations.
Garlic is the key ingredient for most pestos but you can use lots of other ingredients for delightful variations. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
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Rocket pesto with pinenuts and ham. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain
Spinach and almond pesto recipe.
Spinach and almond pesto recipe. Sauce: Pixabay Public Domain