This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 9… Dried Herbs and stock(Bouillon)

Welcome to week 9 of Store Cupboard Basics where this week I will explore dried herbs and stock cubes…

I hope you have found these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I broke it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who were not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Dried herbs and stock cubes…

Dried herbs and stock(bouillon) cubes are convenient standbys when you don’t have fresh stock or herbs to hand and of course, depending on the recipe one may be more suitable than the other…Fresh herbs are generally better for use in uncooked foods like pesto, guacamole, chimichurri, or other herb sauces or even just as an accompaniment to a dish…I eat many of my fresh herbs like mint, basil and coriander with my meals…

I love my fresh herbs but I also keep some dried herbs in the store cupboard I use both…

Dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs so bear that in mind as you will overpower your dish. You can always add more but once added sometimes the dish is just spoilt as too much can be overpowering…Dried herbs have been dried and often crushed, which concentrates their flavour, making them more potent than fresh herbs.

Dried herbs should also be kept in the dark and dry some may last for about 12 months and others lose their strength after about 3 months …rely on your nose and if they smell herby then they are ok if not time to replace them…

Fresh herbs also have a higher water content, so they’re not as strong as their dried sister therefore If you’re making a swap, use less dried herbs than you would fresh herbs.

Salt…

I am very lucky and this is where I get my salt from as these salt flats are quite close to my home in Northern Thailand.

A key ingredient salt adds flavour and brings out the flavour in other foods. It also acts as a preservative when it is used in pickling and chutney making or when curing meats and fish where it draws out moisture and prevents decomposition. It is worth paying a little extra for rock or sea salt since these do not contain any added chemicals which are often found in cheap table salt.  Sea salt has a stronger taste than table salt so use in moderation and add a little at a time and taste to prevent oversalting.

There have been a lot of scare stories regarding the use of salt and of course, we should watch our intake BUT much of the salt people consume is hidden and in highly processed foods which if you exclude THESE from your diet it will reduce your consumption of salt. If I am using stock or bouillon then I am careful and sometimes I don’t add additional salt to a dish this is where tasting frequently during cooking becomes important…

Bay Leaves…

dried bay leaves and jar

A fragrant leaf from a laurel tree that is used as a herb. Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried; dried bay leaves tend to have a slightly stronger flavour.

Bay leaves are not generally eaten but are rather simmered in a sauce or included in a braising liquid like a stew or casserole, and then removed before serving. A bay leaf is sometimes ground into a powder and used almost like a spice I dry roast them and grind them when I make my Indian curry powders.

In addition to simmering them in soups and stews, bay leaves are great for stuffing into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it, and they can be added to the liquid for cooking rice.

Basil…

Although my preference is for fresh basil I do always have a small pot of dried basil in my store cupboard. Sweet and pungent basil is an essential herb in the kitchen because it can do wonders for a whole bunch of dishes. While cooking with dried basil, ensure that you use it, in the beginning, to allow it to develop its flavour.

Fenugreek…

Another kitchen essential in my cupboard…Kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves have an incredible ability to instantly elevate the flavours in a dish. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, being credited for popular dishes like butter chicken and methi aloo. Even adding a spoonful of it to dal can make the humble dish taste divine. Sprinkle some while making and kneading your dough for rotis and parathas for a flavour boost.

Oregano…

oregano-2119598_640

Again a much-used herb in my cooking I mean can you imagine biting into your favourite slice of pizza without sprinkling some oregano on it? This is possibly the one herb you should have, and the one that you must, especially if you love Italian food.

The bitter and lemony flavour of the herb makes it blend well in pasta sauces, salads and pizzas. It is extensively used in Mediterranean cuisine, and the good part is that it doesn’t overpower the other flavours in a dish. You can use it in your everyday cooking by adding it to toasts, sandwiches and even quick stir-fries.
Sage…

Sage is a herb which is commonly used in Italian cuisine it is one I always use when I am cooking pork although I prefer fresh sage… Dry it has its uses when making tomato-based sauces and again I use quite a lot as we love sage. I also make my own stuffings so again dried sage is a wonderful addition.

But fresh sage as above is wonderful cooked in butter or crispy as a garnish.

Tarragon…

The summer French herb can be used in everyday cooking by getting your hands on the dried version. The sweet and almost vanilla-flavoured herb pairs best with eggs, cheese, seafood, chicken and fruits, and is an important ingredient in French cooking. Use it while making baked dishes, pasta, vegetable au gratin, soups and grilled meats.

Thyme…

A relative of oregano, thyme is used extensively in cooking while preparing soups and meat-based dishes. Its pungent minty flavour works wonders in stir-fries and baked pies as well. It is a key ingredient in the popular Middle East condiment called za’atar.

Of course, these are dried herbs which I use a lot in my cooking you may use dried parsley, rosemary, mint… I don’t find I have any use for those dried I always use fresh…What are your favourite and most used dried herbs? Do you dry your own?

Stock(bouillon) cubes…

These come in handy little cubes and are an excellent way to add flavour to your cooked meat and vegetable dishes, although if you are making soup the taste will be far superior if you make your own stock although many of the liquid stocks that are available to buy now make an excellent addition to your store cupboard.,,just check the salt content…

It is also worth paying that little bit extra for good quality stock/bouillon cubes /stock because cheaper ones tend to contain a lot of salt.

I always carry a small stock of different flavours just in case I run out of fresh stock or am in a hurry just always ensure if you are using the cubes that you taste before you add extra salt to your dish.

Plus if you have lots of fresh herbs in your garden then drying some for the winter months is always worth it and they smell so lovely hanging up to dry…

Thank you for joining me today by now you should be on your way to a nicely stocked store cupboard…as always I look forward to your comments and hearing what your favourite dried herbs are…

14 thoughts on “This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 9… Dried Herbs and stock(Bouillon)

  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 10th -16th July 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review, Nakd Bars “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Secret” is my one word prompt.… | Retired? No one told me!

  2. Sue Dreamwalker

    Love this and Bayleaves.. I collected a fresh load from my daughters baytree… 🙂 and I have fresh Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme..

    Basil I only can grow on my window sill indoors… Doesn’t like our English weather, though this Summer it would thrive lol.. Great post Carol… and have a lot of Veggie and chicken stockcubes in the store cupboard as well.. Often through one in while cooking pasta… adding flavour.. ❤
    Much love my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      A wonderful collection, Sue…I miss my bay tree…but enjoy my lime leaves …Thank you for your kind words Sue…I too have a collection of stock cubes and yes thrown in to pasta water or rice they impart a lovely flavour…Much love back at you, Sue 🙂 xx

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      Reply
  3. D. Wallace Peach

    Fenugreek is the only herb that I haven’t used, and you intrigued me, Carol. I have quite a few of my own herbs and I make blends to give away at Christmas time. I just love how they change up a meal. Great post.

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  4. Pingback: This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 9… Dried Herbs and stock(Bouillon) – MobsterTiger

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