How To Convert Fresh Herb to Dried Herbs
Let me start by saying, I try to use fresh herbs over dried herbs as much as humanly possible. We grow fresh herbs in the spring and throughout the summer and many of them last through the fall and some right into winter.
If we don’t have them in the backyard, they are easy enough to find at the supermarket but can get extremely expensive certain times of the year so if you only need a little of a particular herb for a recipe, be sure to incorporate it in something else you are preparing. If all else fails, make a soup or stew and use up some of those herbs.
How Fresh Are Your Dried Herbs?
One reason I don’t like using dried herbs is I never know how long they’ve been in the spice cabinet. As a general rule, ground spices and herb leaves will be considered “fresh” if stored in optimal conditions for 1 to 2 years.
I know some of the spice jars in my pantry are as old as my kids, well maybe not that old, but they do tend to get lost and unused especially those way in the back.
And what about when you purchase a new container but feel like you have to wait until you finish the older jar even if the spices in it are flavorless? I suppose we should all use a permanent marker and date the jars as soon as we purchase them or put a throw out date on them but then how do we know how long they’ve been in some storage facility or on the supermarket shelves?
How do we really know how much shelf life is left in our seasonings?
Personally, I don’t think we do, so I suggest before you start cooking a meal that requires dried herbs, you first check your spice cabinet to make sure you have what you need and then give them a quick sniff and then taste to make sure they are fresh enough to use.
If they don’t taste as potent as you like, you may need to add more than called for to make up for the difference.
All You Really Need To Know About Converting Fresh Herbs to Dry Herbs
The general rule for dried “flaky” herbs like dried cilantro or dried tarragon is 3 to 1 or three parts fresh to one part dried. You can also look at this as
1 tablespoon fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs
If you are working with dried ground herbs like ground ginger which is going to be even more potent than the dried flaky herbs, the general ratio is 4 to 1 or four parts fresh to one part dried.
Another general rule:
1 teaspoon dried leaf herb = 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herb
Why These Ratios?
If you’re wondering why you need so much more fresh herbs compared to dried herbs, you have to remember that fresh herbs like basil and parsley are 80% to 90% water. In the drying process, the water gets evaporated leaving extremely potent essential oils with more concentrated flavors than their fresh counterparts.
When you talk about herbs like rosemary and thyme with even harder leaves than something like a basil, the intensity of flavor can be even greater so be careful when adding these dried spices to a dish.
Exceptions to the Rule
Like everything in life, there are always exceptions to my general rules above. For example, you would substitute 1 fresh bay leaf for 2 dried or 1 medium onion for 1 teaspoon onion powder. Both basil and parsley surprised me with a 2 to 1 fresh to dried.
I did a search on the Internet to see what I could find for these conversions and came up with this chart. There was no one consensus between all the sites, but this should be a good start to work with until you come up with your own ratios.
Print & Save
There’s no way I’m going to remember all these conversions so I’ll make a copy of the chart below and print it out then tape it to the inside of one of my cabinet doors so it’s handy when I need it. It sits right next to my Meat Doneness Chart.
|Basil||2 teaspoons finely chopped||1 teaspoon dried|
|Bay Leaf||1 leaf fresh||2 leaves dried|
|Chervil||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Cilantro||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Cinnamon||1 cinnamon stick||1/2 teaspoon ground|
|Cumin||4.5 tablespoons whole seed||4 TBS ground (1 oz.)|
|Dill||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Garlic (large)||1 clove fresh (1.5 tsp minced)||1/2 teaspoon powder|
|Garlic (small)||1 clove fresh (1/2 tsp minced)||1/8 teaspoon powder|
|Ginger||1 tablespoon freshly grated||1/4 teaspoon dry ground|
|Ginger||1 tablespoon minced||1/2 teaspoon dry ground|
|Marjoram||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Onion||1 medium onion||1 teaspoon onion powder|
|Oregano||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Parsley||2 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Rosemary||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Sage||2 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Star Anise||1 star anise fresh||1/2 teaspoon anise seed|
|Tarragon||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Thyme||3 teaspoons fresh||1 teaspoon dried|
|Thyme||1 teaspoon dried||3/4 teaspoons ground|
|Vanilla||1 inch vanilla bean||1 teaspoon extract|