Category: Resources

Fresh Herbs versus Dried Herbs

Stew Leonards herb selection

Here’s a little primer on using fresh herbs versus dried herbs.

I prefer fresh herbs for many dishes, especially recipes that call for delicate herbs, such as basil, dill weed, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and tarragon, which fade quickly during long cooking times. The best time to use delicate herbs is at the end of cooking or as a garnish. Stir in during the last 5 to 10 minutes, but no longer or the flavor diminishes significantly. Chopping helps releases more flavor components, a rough chop or fine mince, either is fine. These freshly chopped herbs awaken the taste buds and have a pleasing aroma.

Always use fresh herbs in cold preparations, such as salsa and guacamole. Dried herbs won’t reconstitute properly without heat and moisture, and the flavor is muted.


Dried herbs are concentrated in flavor and are best for long, slow cooking times, such as our Mediterranean Lamb Shanks. These hearty herbs include bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. The moisture and heat of the liquid in a slow-cooked, roasted, or baked recipe rehydrates dried herbs and the flavor infuses the liquid, meat and vegetables nicely. A garnish of the matching fresh herb or one of the fresh herbs in a mélange, coarsely chopped or minced, further brightens and enhances any dish.

Mediterranean Lamb Shanks

Rule of Thumb: Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so use 1/3 less than fresh herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

dried herbs in spice drawer

Shelf Life and Storage

Fresh Herbs

Unfortunately, fresh herbs are highly perishable. Once separated from the root, they begin to wilt and dry out. The method I use for storing most of my fresh herbs is to gently rinse them in cold water, shake the excess water off (or use a lettuce spinner), strew atop a couple of sheets of paper towel, loosely roll it up and store in a sealed plastic baggie. Most herbs will last 3-4 days.


Don’t buy fresh herbs without plans to use them immediately; they’re expensive, especially in the winter, when brought in from outside sources. Notice the size of fresh herb bundles as the growing season progresses – they can be huge – especially basil, which is the ideal time to scoop them up and make several batches of pesto for the freezer!


Dried Herbs

Dried herbs have a longer shelf life, though not indefinite. Store in dry, dark places, such as a spice drawer or cupboard. Countertop spice racks are not ideal because of the exposure to light. If you are uncertain about the freshness of a dried herb, or spice for that matter, open the jar and give a sniff. If the aroma is weak, the herbs are past their prime and need to be replaced. My go to source is Penzey’s, which has a store a few miles from my home. They are also have a mail-order business. For those herbs (and spices) that I use infrequently or in minute amounts, I buy the 2 ounce jar.

Use Both Fresh and Dried Herbs

Maximize flavor by using a combination of both fresh and dried herbs. Start with dried herbs in slow-cooked recipes like soups, stews, and sauces, while sweating the aromatics. The dried herb infuses the dish with a subtle flavor. Just before serving, stir in a good handful of freshly chopped herb(s) for a bright, fresh flavor.



Photos of herbs were taken at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk CT.

Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce - in gravy bowl

Before we get into the ABCs of this delicious Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce, I want to tell you about a product I use in place of homemade or canned stock, or, heaven forbid, bouillon.

More Than Gourmet

More Than Gourmet display photo

First, I want to assure you that this is not a product-sponsored post – I don’t do them. More Than Gourmet doesn’t advertise or pay anyone to promote their products; they rely on word-of-mouth. My goal is to make you aware of a superior product and I want you to know about it because it’s a key ingredient in my soup, stew, and sauce recipes.

More Than Gourmet french demi-glace

Canned or store-bought stock is thin in flavor and I don’t like the fact that salt has been added, which limits using them in reductions. Back in the day, I used to make homemade stock. It was a 24-hour chore. Starting and skimming the stock, simmering overnight, straining, cooling, and finally putting in jars for freezing. It was worth it in terms of flavor, but very time consuming. It also seemed like I used it up quickly and was back at the chore again and again and again.

More Than Gourmet Sauce packet

I have an entire pantry door devoted to a wide variety of More Than Gourmet concentrated stock and demi-glace packets. These are a life-saver, especially when I make something spur of the moment, I know I’ll always have what I need on hand.

More Than Gourmet - my kitchen cabinet

I bring this to your attention, because it’s all I use in my recipes and I believe that my recipes benefit from the depth of flavor provided by these stocks and demi-glaces, which store-bought products can’t match.

Back to the Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Here is a quick and easy sauce that goes well with chicken and pork. It only takes about 20 minutes to make and it freezes well.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slide the shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper into the hot pan, stir and sweat for 2 minutes. If the shallot begins to brown, lower the heat a smidge.

sweating the shallot and garlic in oil

Whisk in the orange zest and honey mustard. Stir in the stock or demi-glace, I used the roasted chicken demi-glace, which is more concentrated in flavor and creates a rich and tasty sauce.

adding the orange zest and honey mustard to shallots

Toss in the rosemary sprig and simmer for 5 minutes.

Discard the rosemary and pour the sauce over chicken or pork or serve in a ladled bowl on the side.

finished sauce Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Sauce freezes well.


Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Make this quick and easy sauce to use over chicken or pork.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: generous cup
  • Category: Sauce


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
zest of one orange
2 teaspoons spicy honey mustard
1 cup chicken stock or demi-glace
1 sprig rosemary


Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slide the shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper into the hot pan, stir and sweat for 2 minutes. If the shallot begins to brown, lower the heat a smidge.

Stir in the orange zest, honey mustard to combine. Then whisk in the stock or demi-glace. The demi-glace is more concentrated in flavor and creates a very rich sauce.

Toss in the rosemary sprig and simmer for 5 minutes.

Discard the rosemary and pour the sauce over your chicken or pork or serve in a ladled bowl on the side.


Sauce freezes well.

Keywords: sauce, rosemary, honey mustard, gravy