Fresh isn’t always best

I always have at least one bulb of garlic in the pantry, usually more. I also grow herbs like parsley, basil, dill, and thyme. For most recipes, using the fresh version of these items is the best way to go, but that is not true in all cases. Sometimes dried spices and herbs work better, and that is the case with garlic powder as Ben Mims explains in The L.A. Times.

Stay at home orders and quarantine made cooks out of many people who weren’t used to performing that task day in and day out. Even for those who regularly cooked, it was not always easy to keep fresh products on hand. Both of these groups turned to dried spices and herbs to add flavor and depth to their meals.

While some chefs may view garlic powder with disdain, it can enhance the flavor of both meats and vegetables. Award-winning food historian and cookbook author Michael Twitty says “Garlic powder makes people who wouldn’t like a certain food love it. If you are trying to eat more vegetables, throw in some garlic powder. You can say to yourself, ‘I’m really eating garlic but I’m also eating broccoli.’”

Garlic powder also enhances meats, and is especially useful in situations where fresh garlic would burn, such as rubs for meats destined for the grill or in fried chicken. “Garlic powder — or granulated garlic as we call it — melds with the meat and smoke to create that bark on the brisket that makes it perfect,” according to Los Angeles barbecue master Kevin Bludso.

Photo of DIY garlic powder from Serious Eats

Post a comment


  • averythingcooks  on  September 27, 2020

    I always have fresh garlic on hand and use it with a pretty heavy hand BUT I have also learned that the powdered form has its rightful place in my pantry. For example, my favourite buttermilk ranch dressing uses both fresh & powdered garlic with great results. I made a different version and felt that it was simply missing “something”….in went some garlic powder and yes – that was the flavour profile I was looking for.

    I do grow basil, thyme, parsley and rosemary on my summer deck but I also think it’s easy to fall into the trap of anything fresh is ALWAYS better. If you read, research and try various combinations you learn that yes – there are dried ingredients that have key roles to play. I seldom have fresh oregano but do use both dried Mediterranean and Mexican oregano with great success….I will make a special trip for an Alison Roman chicken recipe but my stores also don’t always have it on hand. However, I will say that my feelings don’t extend to dried basil 🙂 but if I don’t have fresh on hand, I pretty much always have patties of homemade pesto in the freezer and/or jars of commercial pesto in the fridge which work in a lot of applications.

    I think my long winded response is trying to say that it seems to become trendy to dismiss certain types of ingredients (canned tomatoes and various frozen veg also come to mind) in the name of “fresh is ALWAYS best”….without any real thought to the truthfulness of the statement.

  • anniette  on  April 27, 2021

    I remember reading, in one of her books, that Edna Lewis preferred to use thyme in its dried form.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!