Using Fresh vs Dried Herbs and Ground vs Whole Spices

Incorporating herbs and spices into your dishes enhances flavor and helps you develop unique spins on typical salads, soups, appetizers, and entrees. However, using herbs and spices optimally requires knowing which herbs are better fresh or dried for your culinary creations and how to switch from fresh to dry herbs and from whole to ground spices. We’ve created a guide below so you can convert herbs and spices properly and best choose between fresh or dried herbs and whole or ground spices for your dishes and kitchen cabinets.

Person holding fresh herbs with bowls filled with whole spices

Fresh vs Dried Herbs

Herbs that are better when fresh include soft, tender, and leafy herbs such as basil and cilantro. On the other hand, woody herbs, such as oregano and rosemary, provide great flavor when dry. Below is a guide that shows which types of herbs are better fresh or dried along with tips for using each.

Fresh Herbs Dried Herbs
How to Use When Cooking
  • Best when used to finish a dish
  • Add towards the end of cooking
  • Crush with fingers when adding to release oils and increase flavor
  • Best when used with oil, butter, fat, or water in order to infuse liquid with flavor
  • Add at beginning of cooking or at least 20 minutes before the end
Type of Herb to Use Use soft, tender, leafy herbs fresh Use woody herbs dry
Common Examples Basil, dill, cilantro, mint, parsley Bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, thyme

You can easily use the majority of herbs in both their fresh and dry forms. While some herbs may be better fresh or dry, both forms will still provide flavor and zest when added correctly to your dishes.

Fresh to Dry Herb Conversion

Dried oregano in a bowl next to fresh parsley

To convert a quantity of fresh herbs to the corresponding amount of dried flaky herbs, follow the below formula:

  • 3-to-1 ratio of fresh to dry
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh herb = 1 tsp. of dried herb

Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh herbs, so less is required when cooking.

Fresh to Ground Dried Herb Conversion

While many people use finely ground spices, people use dried, flaky, leafy herbs more often than finely ground herbs. However, if you are working with a finely ground herb, follow the below conversions:

  • 4-to-1 ratio fresh to ground dried or 1 tbsp. fresh = ¾ tsp. ground dried
  • 6-to-1 ratio dried leaf herb to ground dried herb or 1 tsp. of dried leaf herb = 1/2 tsp. of ground dried herb

Dried ground herbs are more concentrated than dried flaky herbs, so even less is required.

Fresh to Dry to Ground Herb Conversions

The majority of herbs can be converted from fresh to dry using the 3 to 1 ratio and from fresh to ground using the 4 to 1 ratio. However, there are some exceptions which are shown in the chart below.

Herb Fresh Dried Ground
Most herbs, such as cilantro, dill, oregano, rosemary, and thyme 1 tbsp. 1 tsp. ¾ tsp.
Basil 2 tsp. 1 tsp. ½ tsp.
Bay leaf 1 leaf 1 leaf ¼ tsp.
Parsley 2 tsp. 1 tsp. ½ tsp.
Sage 2 tsp. 1 tsp. ½ tsp.

Whole Spices vs Ground Spices

Ground spices in a bowl next to whole spices

Ground spices tend to lose their strength over time. On the other hand, you can grind whole spices right when you need them, giving you freshly ground spices and a stronger flavor. Spices have their freshest and most robust taste right after they are ground, so keeping whole spices around can lead to more flavorful dishes.

Unlike herbs, you will find most spices at the store already dried, as they come from the root, stem, seed, fruit, flower, or bark of the tree or plant. Herbs typically come from the green, leafy part of a plant.

How to Convert Whole Spices to Ground

You will find most spices in powders, but a fair share can be stored in their whole form and ground at home. If a recipe calls for ground spices and you have whole spices on hand, follow our guide below to know how much whole spice you need to grind.

Spice Whole Ground
Allspice 1 tsp. 1 tsp.
Black pepper 1 tsp. 1½ tsp.
Cardamom Approximately 12 pods, dehusked 1 tsp.
Cinnamon 1 stick (1½-inch) 1 tsp.
Cloves 1 tsp. ¾ tsp.
Coriander 1 tsp. 1¼ tsp.
Cumin 1 tsp. 1¼ tsp.
Fennel 1 tsp. 1¼ tsp.
Ginger 1 tbsp. fresh ginger ¼-½ tsp.
Nutmeg ½ nutmeg 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds 1 tsp. 1½ tsp.
Turmeric 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric 1 tsp.

While some people may estimate, it is worthwhile to know the exact measurements. This way, you will avoid grinding too much of your whole spices and can conserve them to grind fresh spices for future culinary creations.

Consider the fresh peppery taste of basil on a tomato mozzarella sandwich, the woodsy, savory flavor of rosemary chicken, or the earthy touch of nutmeg in a sweet butternut squash soup. Many dishes wouldn't be complete or as flavorful without the help of herbs and spices. Nature helps you get creative in the kitchen, and you can even try incorporating plants into your signature drinks as well.

Posted in: Recipes | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Hannah Herrera

How to Reseal a Wine Bottle

Having a glass of wine in the evening can be a great way to unwind after a long day, but most of the time you won’t be polishing off a whole bottle of wine in one sitting. Or you may be running a restaurant where customers order by the glass and have various bottles of wine open at a time. How do you keep the remaining wine from starting to turn to vinegar the next day? Knowing how to reseal and store open wine bottles is not only an essential part of running a proper wine service at your restaurant but can also be a great tip to use at home. Read on to learn 5 ways to reseal a wine bottle and store it so that you can keep your wine fresh for as long as possible.

Why Should You Recork Wine?

Wine needs to be resealed after opening because it will begin to oxidize once coming into contact with oxygen. The air opens up the tannins in the wine and deteriorates the flavor. This is caused by bacteria in the air called acetobacter. Although rather harmless to ingest, it turns wine into acetic acid which produces that distinct vinegar taste. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, wine will begin to turn once exposed to air. However, you can slow the process significantly by minimizing the amount of oxygen the wine comes in contact with.

5 Ways to Reseal a Bottle of Wine

It is highly recommended to recork a bottle of wine as soon as you’re done pouring from it. Here are 5 different ways that you can plug up the opening of your wine bottle to keep that air out as much as possible.

1) Cork

How to reseal a wine bottle cork

If you still have the original cork on hand, be sure to inspect it for damages before inserting it into the bottle. When opening a bottle of wine, the spindle of the opener should not go all the way through the cork, or else an airway can form in the cork, allowing oxygen into the bottle.

  • Place the bottle on a sturdy surface.
  • Angle the cork so one end is in the bottle and the other is resting on the lip.
  • Simultaneously twist and press down on the cork.
  • Push the cork in about halfway into the bottle.

2) Wax Paper

The cork will expand when you remove it from the opening of a bottle, making it tricky to recork the wine. If the cork is struggling to get back into the opening or is slightly damaged, wax paper can help reduce the friction and prevent cork pieces from falling in the bottle.

  • Cut a piece of wax paper that is approximately the same length as the cork so it goes all the way around without overlapping.
  • Wrap the paper around one end of the cork.
  • Place the bottle on a sturdy surface.
  • Place the wrapped end of the cork directly on the opening of the bottle.
  • Gently push down with a rocking motion, but do not twist the cork or the paper will wrinkle.
  • Push the cork in about halfway into the bottle.

3) Paper Towel

If your cork is completely unusable, you may need a temporary fix before you can find a replacement. You can momentarily improvise with a piece of paper towel, some plastic wrap, and tape.

  • Fold a sheet of paper towel to about 2 inches wide.
  • Tightly roll from the shorter ends until the paper is fully rolled and resembles a cork.
  • Check the width of the roll with the opening of the bottle to make sure it will fit. The roll should be slightly wider than the opening. Trim if needed.
  • Tape the ends to secure the shape of the roll.
  • Wrap the entire roll in a piece of plastic wrap.
  • Tape the plastic wrap closed.
  • Simultaneously twist and press down on the roll.
  • Push the roll in about halfway into the bottle.
  • Replace the roll with a new cork or rubber cork before storing the bottle.

4) Rubber Stopper

How to reseal a wine bottle with a rubber stopper

A rubber stopper is a great reusable option for resealing a wine bottle. They are made to fit the opening of a wine bottle, and they grip the inside of the bottle to keep air from getting in, slowing down the oxidation process. Rubber stoppers also require minimal effort, since you only need to press it down into the bottle opening. They tend to be a popular option, as they are available in a variety of colors and are affordable, so you can purchase some extra stoppers to keep on hand.

5) Vacuum Pump

Another way to seal your bottle of wine and slow down the oxidation process is by using a reusable vacuum pump. This handy tool also uses rubber stoppers; however, the stoppers are unique in that they allow for air to be vacuumed out of the bottle with the manual pump. The process requires minimal effort and may help extend the storage time of your bottle of wine even further.

How to Store an Open Bottle of Wine

How to store an open bottle

After you have recorked your wine bottle, you’ll want to store it in the following way to prevent oxidation as much as possible.

  • Keep the bottle out of the light.
  • Refrigerate the bottle after opening regardless of the color of the wine. Chilling the wine slows the oxygen molecules.
  • Store the bottle upright to minimize the surface area of wine exposed to oxygen.
  • Avoid dramatic changes in temperature. If you are serving a red wine, set it out half an hour before serving so it can gradually increase in temperature.
  • If you have less than half of the bottle remaining, transfer the wine to a smaller bottle before refrigerating. With less room for oxygen in a bottle, the oxidation process can take much longer.

In these conditions, open wine can usually last for approximately 3-5 days. It is important to note that sparkling wines and champagnes will behave differently and may need a specific type of cork to remain fresh or may actually need to be stored open in the refrigerator.

Wines That Oxidize Faster

Even if you cork and store your wine in ideal conditions, some wines have a tendency to oxidizer faster than others. Here are some that are prone to deteriorating more quickly.

  • Older wines, especially over 8-10 years old
  • Pinot Noirs
  • Light-colored red wines
  • Organic white wines

The longevity of a wine all begins with the proper wine storage before the bottle is even opened. Although there isn’t much that can prevent oxidation entirely, there are ways to slow it down so you can enjoy another glass of delicious wine for at least a few more days.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Janine Jones

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Rush

The holiday rush doesn’t stop at shopping centers, malls, and big box stores. Restaurants also feel the stress of accommodating excess customers during the busy holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, families are out shopping, socializing, and indulging in their favorite foods more than any other time of year. But before the turkey hits the table this year, prepare your staff and equip your restaurant with the tools you need to stay successful through the season.

Staffing for the Holiday Season

You won’t have success this holiday season if you don’t put extra effort into hiring, training, and regularly motivating staff. Follow the guidelines below to ensure your staff is prepared for the holiday rush.

Create Clear Expectations

Get Staff Ready

Outlining your expectations for service, ticket times, or time-off requests is important to do before the holidays hit, especially if your staff experiences regular turnover. It’s important to clearly communicate your time-off expectations and require plenty of notice in advance before the season starts.

Other expectations to prepare your staff for include working longer hours and taking on extra responsibilities. Additionally, you’ll want to emphasize with your front-of-house staff how important quick turnaround on tables will be. Not only does this give them a chance to make more money, but it’ll create shorter wait times for your customers.

Pass on some of these tips to your servers to help them turn tables faster:

  • Pre-bus tables with bus bins and boxes
  • Suggest dishes and seasonal menu items as guests are being seated
  • Give guests their bill as soon as they’re done eating, but remind them that there’s no rush
  • In worst-case scenarios, kindly remind tables who are lingering too long that you have other guests with reservations waiting for a table

Hire Seasonal Help

Hiring enough seasonal staff can help reduce the headache of sudden no-shows or call-offs, which could otherwise cripple service. Making sure you have a full staff is the key to success during the holiday season. With schools closed for winter break and families traveling to spend time together, hiring seasonal help can be one of your greatest assets in accommodating an influx of customers. If you’re not sure whether or not your restaurant is in need of supplemental staff, use sales forecasting based on your previous year’s experiences to estimate sales for this season.

Use Sales Forecasting to Predict Staffing Needs

Sales forecasting includes analyzing your restaurant’s historical data to determine how busy you can expect to be this holiday season. While this can be done to determine food inventory, it is also instrumental in deciding how to staff for the season. Determine what your busiest days were last year, such as Black Friday or New Year’s Eve, and create schedules accordingly.

Offer Staff Member Incentives

As a restaurant owner or manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of running a restaurant. But during the holiday season, you must remember that your staff members are missing out on time with their own friends and family while handling added stress and responsibility.

Keeping staff morale high can reduce the amount of last-minute no-shows and employee turnover during the holiday season. Here are a few ways to create a positive environment for staff members:

  • Offer holiday bonuses for full-time staff
  • Provide snacks and drinks, such as hot chocolate and Christmas cookies
  • Host an employee holiday party for employees and their families
  • Hand out small gifts to every employee, such as gift cards or boxes of candy

Equipping Your Restaurant During the Holidays

Once you’ve ensured your staff is adequately prepared for the upcoming busy season, it’s time to focus on evaluating your day-to-day operations. Below are a few ways to ensure your restaurant will be prepared for the holiday rush this season.

Prepare a Seasonal Food and Drink Menu

Stay Positive

Give customers a reason to choose your restaurant this holiday season by offering special seasonal items on your menu. Suggesting items off a seasonal menu as soon as guests are seated can create quick table turnover. Additionally, seasonal cocktails are a great way to upsell your drink menu during a time when customers are indulging and gathering together with friends and family.

Keep Inventory Fully Stocked

There’s nothing more disappointing than having to tell a customer “Sorry, we’ve run out of that.” While guests may understand, it can still leave them with a bad impression of your establishment. Use sales forecasting and your restaurant’s historical data to predict what your most popular dishes are.

Offer Online Reservations and Ordering

If you’re not taking advantage of online reservation systems or ordering apps, you could be losing out on some serious business. Allowing customers to book a table or order their meal from their phone or desktop is both a convenience to them and an organizational tool for you. Encourage guests to use your online services by offering exclusive online-only deals and coupons.

Online ordering reduces the strain on your hosts and hostesses and improves order accuracy. It frees up these employees and allows them to assist other customers or work on other tasks. Additionally, you should consider using third-party delivery services to offer meals to customers looking to enjoy your food at home.

Incentivize Early Ordering

To control the chaos, give your customers a reason to place their large orders ahead of time. These types of orders often include Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. However, you could include these incentives for any type of large catering order done during the holiday season. Getting customers to place large orders in advance will allow you to more accurately order inventory and stay on schedule with food preparations.

Offer an incentive such as a discount or free food items and vary it based on how far in advance the order is placed. For example, Thanksgiving dinner orders placed 6 weeks in advance receive 20% off, at 5 weeks it’s 15% off, 4 weeks it’s 10% off, and so on. The same concept could be used with offering free sides or desserts.

By getting ready for the holiday rush, new and returning guests will be left with a positive impression of your establishment that will have them returning soon. So, instead of letting the holiday season be the most stressful time of the year, try some of these tips to make it a little more wonderful.

Posted in: Holidays | Management & Operation | By Rachel Jenkins

Winter is Coming: Preparing Your Restaurant for Colder Weather

If your restaurant is located in an area that receives frequent snow during the winter months, chances are the temperature isn’t the only thing dropping. Foodservice profits decline in the winter due to cold weather and bad driving conditions. But there are certain steps you can take to prepare your restaurant for the winter months and drive business back through your doors. Keep reading below for tips and tricks on combating the winter blues this season.

Offer Promotions and Specials

Carefully crafted marketing campaigns are an effective way to increase your business volume and sales during the winter season. Draw in customers by offering daily specials or events such as limited-time winter cocktails, Wine Wednesday, half-priced appetizers on Tuesdays, or live music on the weekends. Be sure to promote these events through a social media marketing campaign and encourage guests to interact with your online accounts.

If you offer catering services, amp up your advertising during the months leading into winter and the holiday season. While customers may not want to brave the weather to come to you, you can bring your services to them by catering holiday parties, work events, and celebrations. You should also consider offering pre-made holiday meals for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Host Charity Events

Winter marks the season of giving, which means your patrons may be open to participating in or donating to charitable events and foundations. Hosting a charity night is beneficial to you and your community partners because it offers them a space to have their event and creates great exposure for you.

Host a holiday dinner for those who may not be able to provide a holiday meal of their own. Alternatively, you could donate holiday meals to local churches and homeless shelters.

Use a Delivery Service

Using 3rd Party Delivery During Winter

Hiring a third-party delivery service can help you reach more customers without the cost and hassle of implementing your own delivery program. Delivery is often an ideal option during the winter for patrons who may not have a car or an easy means of getting to your restaurant. Plus, the cold weather and bad road conditions can make patrons feel more justified in paying a delivery fee.

Prepare for Power Outages and Problems

If your restaurant is located in an area where snow, ice, and other bad weather is common, you must be prepared to handle inclement weather. Here are a few ways in which you can prepare your restaurant for bad weather:

Winterize Your Outdoor Spaces

Preparing Your Restaurant for Cold Weather

Follow these steps to prepare and protect your outdoor areas during the winter:

  • Clean and store furniture: Vacuum fabric items such as cushions and umbrellas before storing in a dry area. Wash plastic furniture and treat wicker and wood furniture with oil before storing indoors.
  • Inspect metal tables and chairs: Check for rust and paint scratches after cleaning off your metal tables and chairs. Small rust spots can be scraped and painted over, but if a piece has large rusty patches, consider replacing it.
  • Power wash your patio: Use a power washer or hose to wash the debris off of your patio floor. This will make it much easier to clean again in the spring.
  • Prevent pipes from bursting: When you’re done with the hose, clear it of any water and turn off the outdoor tap. Additionally, you should cover any exposed pipes in your building with foam insulator.
  • Protect against pests: Because pests will want to come inside to get out of the cold, you must make sure all outdoor vents are properly covered with mesh. Trim plants and shrubbery around the patio to prevent small animals from burrowing in the shelter of bushes and flowerbeds.

Consider Keeping Your Patio Open

An outdoor patio makes for a unique atmosphere that customers enjoy, even in the winter months. If you provide the proper heating and amenities, you can turn your patio into a winter dining destination. Plus, keeping outdoor areas open and comfortable for guests will set you apart from competitors with closed terraces in the winter.

Regardless of the type of business you own, properly preparing for cold weather and incorporating innovative strategies to keep customers coming back is essential to the success of your establishment.

Posted in: Management & Operation | Seasonal | By Rachel Jenkins
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