What Ina Garten Really Thinks About Dried Herbs

ina garten smiling
ina garten smiling - Noam Galai/Getty Images

Adding herbs to a dish is an easy way to build flavor, but most people don't always have fresh bunches of them on hand. Dried herbs are a convenient alternative, as they have a long shelf life, so you can use them whenever you need them. They tend to cost less, yet they can effectively infuse their flavors into a dish. But while there are many benefits to cooking with dried herbs, Ina Garten isn't the biggest fan of doing so.

As the celebrity chef explained in a clip from "Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics" uploaded to YouTube, she prefers fresh herbs because their leaves contain oils that contribute to a more potent aroma and flavor. Garten also finds that dried herbs aren't as consistent. "It depends on how long it's been sitting in your drawer. Sometimes it's been there a while. In the grocery store, it could have been there for a year. You have no idea. So fresh herbs are good for me," she said in the episode. Garten also mentioned that she likes the look and texture better, giving her even more of a reason to use fresh herbs over dry herbs.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Ina Garten's Exceptions For Using Dried Herbs

dried oregano and fresh oregano
dried oregano and fresh oregano - 5ph/Getty Images

Ina Garten may have a clear preference for fresh herbs, but she isn't completely against dried ones. In fact, there are two herbs that she only uses dry: dried oregano and dried bay leaves. Explaining her decision while making bolognese in another episode of "Barefoot Contessa," Garten shares, "I always use dry oregano because I think fresh is too strong." She finds that she can get the perfect amount of flavor by rubbing the dried herb between her palms "to release the oils" before adding it to the dish.

As for the bay leaves, Garten actually seems to be indifferent about the herb, stating in the "Back to Basics" episode mentioned earlier, "I don't know why, I just use dried bay leaves."  She also once admitted in an interview with the New Yorker that she can't tell whether bay leaves work. "There are a couple of things that I use bay leaves in, and I've always wanted to make them without the bay leaves to see if it made a difference, and they never have, so I'm not sure," she shared. Nevertheless, she still keeps this dried herb in her spice drawer.

Ina Garten's Tips For Using Fresh Herbs

assortment of fresh herbs on wood table
assortment of fresh herbs on wood table - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

One downside to using fresh herbs is that unless you're adding them to every dish, they could easily wilt and go to waste before you have the chance to use them. Ina Garten avoids this because she grows her own. In a post she shared on Instagram, the cook revealed that she grows herbs in her garden, but for those without one, she recommended growing them in pots near a window.

In her garden, Garten always has sage, thyme, chives, and tarragon, but definitely no cilantro, as it's the one herb she can't deal with. If you're not sure what types of herbs you'd like to grow, start with your favorite three, as Garten suggested in "Back to Basics." If this is too much of a commitment and you'd rather buy your fresh herbs, make sure to store them properly. Garten wrote on her website that it's best to wash and dry them thoroughly, then store them with a moistened paper towel inside a plastic bag.

Keep in mind that if you don't have fresh herbs on hand, you can always substitute one teaspoon of dry herbs for every tablespoon of fresh herbs. However, when cooking any "Barefoot Contessa" recipes, it's safe to say that whenever Ina Garten refers to herbs, she almost always means fresh ones.

Read the original article on Daily Meal