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Herbs 101: How to cut, store and cook with your favorite fresh herbs

Make the most of fresh herbs with these easy tips and techniques for preparing, storing and cooking them from Sur La Table's Joel Gamoran.
/ Source: TODAY

Ever wanted to grow your own herbs? Us too! So we're starting our very own indoor garden in the TODAY Kitchen!

Fresh herbs can add pop to all kinds of foods. But, with so many varieties, uses and techniques, we felt that we needed an herb cheat sheet. Luckily, Sur La Table national chef Joel Gamoran is stopping by to give us — and you — a crash course on cutting, storing and cooking with fresh herbs.

Dried Herbs vs. Fresh Herbs

Potted herbs: Basil, Mint and Rosemary
Growing your own herbs means you'll always have fresh herbs on hand for recipes.Featurepics stock

There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, dry herbs are best added during cooking while fresh herbs are best added at the very end to finish a dish. Are you are wondering if you can replace fresh with dry or vice versa? Unfortunately, you can't always. Dry herbs are much stronger in taste and won't have the same effect as the fresh ones.

Woody vs. Soft Herbs

Image: garden fresh herbs on wooden board
Woody and soft herbs require different kinds of prep.Shutterstock

Woody herbs are ones that must be plucked off their tough, inedible stem. Think rosemary, thyme, mint or oregano. Soft herbs are ones in which the stems are edible, such as cilantro, parsley, basil and chervil.

White Peach and Basil Sangria

Storing Herbs

Fresh herbs like to have a bit of water on them at all times. When you come home from the grocery store (or after picking them from you garden), wet a paper towel and wrap up the stems in a little bundle. Toss that in a plastic bag or container with a couple of holes in it to allow the herbs to breathe. If you do this, your herbs will last much longer.

Chopping Herbs

NEVER chop soft herbs more than once or twice through. The more you chop them, the more you will bruise the leaves and the natural oils and flavors will get lost. Woody herbs, like rosemary, can withstand a rougher chopping without losing their oils.

Swapping Herbs

Sometimes you just don't have, or cannot find, a particular herb for a recipe. Here are some easy swaps that work well: