Fresh herbs should look like a live plant with stems that stand up rather than droop when held upright. Look for bright colors and a strong scent. To store loose leaves or a few stems like sage or thyme, wrap in a paper towel inside a resealable plastic bag. To store a bunch of herbs like basil or cilantro, put stems in a glass of water at room temperature or in the fridge. Mince fresh herbs with a chef’s knife like the Katana Series Cutlery 8" Chef’s Knife or snip them with kitchen shears, (our Contemporary Cutlery has Kitchen Shears in both the 17 and 21-pc. sets) and add them to dishes just before serving for maximum taste and color.
Woody herbs like oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme work well in dried form in long-cooked stews, soups, etc., that feature other strong flavors. Greener herbs such as parsley, dill, cilantro, chives, tarragon and basil, on the other hand, don’t fare as well when dried.
Dried herbs are best used within a year, so buy the smallest jar you can find, or look for them in the bulk section and buy only a little. If you’re substituting dried herbs for fresh, the general ratio is one part dried for every three parts fresh (for example, instead of one teaspoon of fresh thyme, you’d use one-third of a teaspoon dried).
Not sure how old that jar of oregano is in the back of your pantry? Test it by crushing a little between your fingers and smelling it. Not getting much of a whiff of anything? It’s best to replenish herbs that have lost their potency; however, if you’ve already begun cooking, just use more than you would otherwise.