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How to store dried herbs

While we prefer to use fresh herbs when they're available, the dried versions of many herbs will often do just fine, especially in dishes where the herbs are cooked for a while. In general, we avoid adding dried herbs to finish a dish.

If you've got a jar of dried herbs so old you can't remember where you were living when you bought it, it's probably time to toss it. While dried herbs don't "go bad," they do lose their aroma and flavor after a year or two, assuming they're store properly. When it doubt, take a pinch of an herb between your thumb and forefinger and smell. If it doesn't smell like the herb, toss it.

Some other tips on buying, storing and using dried herbs:

1. Keep herbs out of the light. It's best to store them in opaque containers in a cabinet or cupboard.

2. Keep dried herbs away from any heat source. Both heat and light will shorten the herbs' lifespan.

3. As with whole spices, we like to buy dried herbs as we need them instead of buying whole jars, which cost more for less. More and more stores are installing bulk herb sections. If your supermarket doesn't offer this, try an Asian market.

4. If a recipe calls for fresh herbs but you're using dried herbs, use one-third of what's called for. For example, in this Toasted Barley With Rosemary And Parsley recipe, we call for 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary. If you're substituting dried rosemary, use 1 teaspoon instead.

5. We rarely if ever use dried parsley, because what's the point, really?
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