Cooking with fresh herbs and spices is always a good idea, period. But if you want to get the most bang for your buck, it’s important to add them at the correct stage in the cooking process.

In general, the rule is that delicate, fine-leafed herbs such as basil, dill, chives, parsley, chervil, coriander or lemon balm should be diced shortly before serving and be added right before eating – otherwise they lose flavour, says a consumer centre in Bavaria, south-east Germany.

Herbs with less-flimsy leaves, such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, lavender, savoury or bay leaves, should be added and allowed to cook with the dish far longer in order to impart their flavours.

Similarly, spices like caraway, cloves and juniper berries only release their full flavours into food through long cooking times, though saffron, nutmeg, paprika and black pepper are averse to heat.

Keeping them fresh

Fresh herbs make dishes taste, and look, far more vibrant. However, it’s hard to keep them fresh, as they spoil far too fast.

One way to slow spoilage? The next time you have fresh basil, parsley or chives around that you can’t use up right away, cut off the ends of their stems, where bacteria that causes wilting easily grows.

Afterwards, wrap the herbs in a moist towel, put the bundle in a plastic bag and seal it before placing in the fridge, advises a German initiative against food waste. This method helps the herbs retain their moisture and remain good for cooking a few days longer. – dpa