Woody herbs tend to have tougher leaves while soft herbs have thin, fragile leaves. Due to this difference, you need to add them to your meals at different times.
As well as this, both woody and tender herbs can be used fresh, dried or frozen, which also plays a part in when you should add them to your dish.
When to add fresh herbs to your cooking
Tender herbs, as we explained earlier, have soft stems and delicate leaves. As a result, whilst they impart robust flavours initially, the intensity can diminish with prolonged cooking.
For this reason, you should add soft herbs towards the end of the process, where they can deliver maximum flavour that doesn’t diminish due to heat damage.
As mentioned before, woody herbs have tougher leaves and woody stems, so are much more robust. They are generally added during the cooking process and removed once the dish is ready. The heat helps the cells in the leaves to break down, so the fragrant oils can start interacting as the food cooks.
When to add frozen herbs to your cooking
Freezing herbs when they’re fresh is a great way to preserve them for future use. You can freeze them in oil, water or simply in the bag they came in.
Frozen woody herbs can be added early on in the cooking process, giving them plenty of time to thaw and infuse the dish.
Frozen soft herbs will defrost quicker, so you should add them a minute or so before you finish cooking, giving them time to warm up but not so much that it affects their flavour.
When to add herbs to uncooked dishes
Herbs can be used raw to enhance the taste of anything, including drinks, desserts and salads.
Salads, in particular, can be transformed from an ordinary plate of greens to something that smells and tastes delicious just by adding herbs.
If you are planning to use herbs at room temperature or served cold, you can add them as you prepare the dish.
If you’re a first-time herb user, you may find yourself worried about making mistakes, but don’t worry. Experimenting and learning is just part of the fun! The more you use them, the better your food will taste and you’ll get better with pairing different flavours together.
If you’re wondering which herbs to experiment with next, take a look at Our Produce section for inspiration. We also offer a selection of chillies and other ingredients to enhance your cooking, which may also get your creative juices flowing.
Do you have any questions about any of our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please do get in touch with us and we will answer them for you.
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