$pend or $ave?
Kitchen-oriented reviews designed to help you decide whether to spend your money or save it.
When I decided to start sharing my recipes, I made a promise to myself and future readers that I would always keep our budgets in mind. While that doesn’t mean you won’t see spendier ingredients from time to time, I try to avoid those costly one-off purchases you see so often in recipes. We’ve all done it, run out and bought that $12 jar of such and such, only to use half a teaspoon and be left holding the other $11.39’s worth and scratching your head for the next ten years trying to figure out what to do with those must-have unicorn tears. But I digress…
One attempt to avoid waste is using Tags on my recipes. You’ll find them on the right-side of each page serving as an index of sorts. Clicking a tag will direct you to a list of all the recipes on cookblognosh that incorporate that particular item. You might even notice a continuity, such as if one recipe only uses half of something, the next might use the remaining half. One example where this approach helps is when buying fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley. They are indispensable in certain dishes, but rarely require an entire bunch. No matter how hard I try, I rarely use all the fresh herbs I buy, and dried herbs aren’t always an option. But a company called Gourmet Garden thinks they have the answer and it can be found in the supermarket produce section. Do these “Lightly Dried” Herbs hold up or are they just another gimmick?
- Good, natural flavor
- Long lasting
- Visually similar to fresh
- A little pricey
- Not available at every store (Chicago readers can try Mariano’s)
Bottom line: Spend. Won’t always replace fresh, but great to have on-hand to brighten up a recipe without a stop at the store or that nagging fear of waste.
My mom discovered and shared these jars of “lightly dried” herbs with me a few months back and I was immediately skeptical. I love dried herbs and use them constantly, but some things simply don’t dehydrate well — parsley and cilantro ranking near the top of that list — their flavors don’t survive the drying process. And at $4 a container I wasn’t sure it was worth the risk, considering you can usually get fresh for around a dollar a bunch. But fresh herbs present challenges too. I often find myself wasting half the bunch, as they’ll turn before I can use them up. This is especially true with delicate, tender herbs, like cilantro and parsley. That said, whatever “lightly dried” means, it works. This partial-preservation approach still retains some moisture and the actual herb flavor really holds up, bolstered no doubt by faint hints of salt and oil. The instructions indicate that it’s about a 1:2 ratio lightly dried to fresh and the shelf life is about a month, making them a great option to have around when a recipe calls for a small, yet crucial amount. For these reasons, I’m a convert now, to be sure. I won’t stop buying fresh, tender herbs, especially not for big meals or dishes that require the real deal, like pico de gallo, pesto or tabbouleh, but to be able to easily add a hint of these flavors to one’s cooking, it is well worth the money.
For more information, check out their website at: http://www.gourmetgarden.com/en-us
Disclosure: This is an unsolicited review, cookblognosh was not compensated for the opinion provided.