Say No to Sodium and Yes to Flavor! How to Cook with Herbs

September 14, 2017
several herbs laying on a wooden table and a cutting board

Seasoning food with fresh herbs goes much farther than just reducing sodium in your diet. These powerful little plants make food more enticing to the palate, and add more nutrition to an already healthy meal.

Starting off with fresh herbs can be intimidating at first. There are a lot of varieties that don’t work well together, and foods respond very differently to certain seasonings. We’ve gathered some tips to get you started right:

The Basics for Using Fresh Herbs

  1. Fresh herbs have a stronger flavor than dried.
    This is important when substituting fresh herbs for dried in a recipe. The general rule is that 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs is equal to 1 teaspoon of crumbled dry herbs, or ¼ teaspoon of ground dry herbs.
  2. Store properly and use them longer.
    Think of fresh herbs in the same way as fresh cut flowers. Store in a glass with water and change out the water frequently. You can even preserve fresh herbs in ice cubes in the freezer! The Spruce is also a great resource for how to store or dry fresh herbs.
  3. Tender versus thick.
    Different herbs should be used at different times during cooking according to their tenderness or their strength. For example, tender herbs such as basil, parsley, dill, or chives are best when added at the end of cooking to retain flavor and texture. Thick herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano should be added earlier to allow them to break down and meld with other flavors.

Herb and Food Combinations

There are plenty of creative combinations! Here are some examples of foods and herbs that pair together beautifully.

Vegetables:
Eggplant + Oregano
Cucumber + Dill
Mushrooms + Sage
Squash + Rosemary
Tomato + Basil

Fruits:
Apple + Rosemary
Strawberries + Mint
Apricot + Basil
Plum + Chives

Meats:
Beef + Cilantro
Salmon + Tarragon
Lamb + Mint
Chicken + Marjoram
Pork + Thyme

When cooking and seasoning with herbs, take the chance to experiment! Herbs are nutritious, naturally sodium-free, and will make your meals so wonderfully tasty.

At True Citrus, we have created some delicious spice shakers to keep close by while cooking. Try True Lemon Pepper with fish and seafood, or tossed with chicken wings. Use True Lime Garlic & Cilantro on chicken breasts, with Mexican-style vegetables, or sprinkled over fresh corn. Add True Orange Ginger to a beef marinade, mixed into a stir fry sauce, or while baking.

Some of our favorite True Citrus seasoned recipes:
True Lemon Pepper Vegetables
True Lime Garlic & Cilantro Shrimp
True Orange Ginger Teriyaki Wings

[Credit: Lannotti, Marie. “Pairing and Combining Your Fresh Grown Herbs with Food.” The Spruce.]
[Credit: “The Essential Herb and Food Pairing Guide.” PersonalCreations.com.]

Tags: health tips, recipes, cooking, seasoning