How to use herbs to get the very best out of them by James Bacon

The Lowdown on Herbs by MasterChef's James Bacon @jamesbaconcooks

After learning the hard way, this is my top tip how to use herbs to get the very best out of them. Use them the wrong way and your food will not sing; use them the right way and your dishes will be full-on gospel choirs!

There is a fantastic array of herbs and spices out there and they can be bought either fresh or dried in the shape of the fantastic Cole & Mason Cambridge 8, 16 or 20 Jar Herb & Spice Rack Carousel. Fresh herbs are vibrant in colour and always smell wonderfully strong yet light. They can be divided in to two types: soft herbs e.g., basil, coriander and dill, and hard or woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

They add that essential top note of flavour to a dish and add more colour.  Soft herbs really shouldn’t be added to a dish sooner than 5-10 mins before the end of the cooking time, adding them too early can over-cook them leading to loss of flavour and colour. Hard herbs need to be added earlier to allow their full flavour to be released, this is due to their robustness

Dried herbs, such as the ones found in the Cole & Mason Saunderton Herb & Spice Storage Shakers, are generally less vibrant in colour and like hard herbs, need to be cooked longer and in or around liquid (in a sauce or as a rub on meat that will be slow cooked) as this hydrates them so they can release their concentrated flavour compounds.

Due the concentration of these herbs, you generally need to decrease the volume of dried herbs you add to your dish - as a rule I use at a ratio of 1:3 (1 measure of dried herbs vs 3 measures of fresh).

So what are you waiting for? Channel you inner conductor and make those dishes sing the house down!

For the full Cole & Mason Herb and Spice range click here


The serving board every kitchen needs for expert entertaining. Choose from small, medium and large to present your best culinary creations.