About Herbs and Spices


Spices and herbs, while often referred to collectively, differ in culinary use as well as botanical composition.

Spices are the dried aromatic parts of woody plants. Grown primarily in hot climates, just about any part of the plant can be a spice as long as it is aromatic. Dried spices have a low moisture content yet still retain their aromatic fragrance. They are the rough part of the plant so are hard to digest and therefore used in moderation, as a little goes a long way. Barks (cinnamon), leaves (bay), kernels (nutmeg), seeds (anise) and buds (cloves) are great examples of what we refer to as spices. While some spices are fragrant whole, most need to be ground, crushed, or cooked to release their volatile oils, which are the main source of their fragrance.

Herbs are the fragrant leaves and tender stems of plants that never develop a hard bark. They grow in temperate to cool climates. Examples would be oregano , parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, and cilantro. Herbs should be used fresh whenever possible, and added at the end of cooking, as heat destroys their green color and reduces their aroma. Herbs are best purchased as needed although they can be kept as long as 2 weeks. Just wrap them loosely in paper or cloth towel and refrigerate. Do not tie up or seal in a bag or the herbs will mildew.

Please note: This is a work in progress which we add to regularly. We eventually will provide photos of all herbs and spices in their plant form as well as dried and ground. Click on images to enlarge.


allspice plantallspice berries Also known as pimenta, myrtle, and Jamaica pepper it is the fruit or berry of the evergreen tree Pimenta officinalis which is indigenous to the West Indies and Latin America. The berries range in size from a peppercorn to a pea, are picked green then allowed to fully mature. They shrivel and turn brownish-red when dried.

Allspice is named becasue it combines the fragrances of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon due to the abundance of the volatile oil, eugenol, present in all 4 of these spices.

The flavors of fruits and earthy winter vegetables, e.g. turnips, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes, are enhanced by allspice. It is particularly good with some grains e.g. bulgar making them more digestible and lending them a great flavor.

Allspice is one of the best natural food preservers available. It has antibacterial and antifungal qualities long known in the Indies and Latin America. It is an extremely potent spice and must be used sparingly in small pinches.

Allspice is used whole or ground in cooking and is widely available. It should be purchased whole and ground when needed using an electric grinder. Allspice will keep indefinitely when stored tightly covered and kept in a cool dark place. The color will dull with time.

If allspice is not available 1 teaspoon can be replaced by 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.


Anise belongs to the family of herbs which also includes parsley and dill. The seeds are actually the dried ripe fruit of the plant and resemble cumin seeds. The plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean but now widely cultivated in southern Europe, South America, and central Asia.

Anise has a licorice flavor with a peppery bite. While not directly related to fennel it has the same flavor compound, anethole, which is responsible for the licorice-like aroma and flavor. Anise is is sweeter and stronger than fennel.

From early times anis has been used for its wonderful scent and flavor as well as its carminative and antibacterial properties. Anisette, an anise-flavored liqueur, is an example of a flavored drink.

Marinades for meat and poultry benefit from anise. It also lends itself well to seafood and to baking e.g. Anise Biscotti.

It is used whole and ground in cooking and is widely available in supermarkets. Anise seeds are best purchased whole and ground as needed. When using whole seeds gently bruise them with a rolling pin to release their aroma. Anise will keep almost indefinitely when kept in tightly covered container and stored in a cool dark place or refrigerator.


Or Sweet Basil, is a common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum, of the mint family, sometimes known as Saint Joseph 's Wort in some English-speaking countries. Basil, originally from India, is best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Asian cuisines of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Depending on the species, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell. There are many varieties of Ocimum basilicum, as well as several related species or species hybrids also called basil. The type used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil, which are used in Asia.

The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are "Genovese", "Purple Ruffles", "Mammoth", "Cinnamon", "Lemon", "Globe", and "African Blue". The Chinese also use fresh or dried basil in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles). The leaves are not the only part of basil used in culinary applications, the flower buds have a more subtle flavor and they are edible. Thai basil is also a condiment in the Vietnamese noodle soup, phở. When soaked in water, the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as falooda or sherbet. They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India and Siddha medicine, a traditional Tamil system of medicine. They are also used as drinks in Southeast Asia.

Several other basils, including some other Ocimum species, are grown in many regions of Asia. Most of the Asian basils have a clove-like flavor that is, in general, stronger than the Mediterranean basils. The most notable is the holy basil or tulsi, a revered home-grown plant in India and Nepal. In China, the local cultivar is called pinyin. Lemon basil has a strong lemony smell and flavor very different from those of other varieties because it contains a chemical called citral. It is widely used in Indonesia, where it is called kemangi and served raw, together with raw cabbage, green beans, and cucumber, as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck. Its flowers, when broken up, are a zesty salad condiment.

Bay leaf

Bay is the fragrant leaf of a tree or shrub (Laurus nobilis) cultivated in Mediterranean countries since ancient times. Also known as laurel, they are valued for their spicy aroma. The bright green leaves say leathery and shiny on the top side even when dried.

Bay leaves are used whole and ground in cooking and can be found in everything from soups, stews and stocks to marinades, pickles and game dishes. Whole bay leaves release their volatile oil slowly and must be simmered in liquid or steamed for your food to be steeped in their fragrance - the longer the spice steeps the more pronounced the flavor. Ground bay leaves release aroma quickly but lose it just as quickly and are therefore more suited to sautéed and grilled foods.

Bay leaves should be purchased whole and ground as needed using an electric grinder since bay leaves are not crushed easily with mortar and pestle.

Store, tightly covered, in a cool dark place for up to one year. They may become dull and slightly brittle with tie but the flavor will not be affected. 


Cardamom SeedpodsCardamom Ground If black pepper is the king of spices then cardamom is the queen. It is a dried seed pop native to India that has been cultivated since antiquity - mentioned in Egyptian medical treatise about 1550 BCE.

It is highly aromatic, sweet-spicy reminiscent of lemon and pine with a touch of mint and pepper. It is a well-known digestive, stimulant and breath freshener. It is ideal for candies, cakes and cookies and a pinch of cardamom adds a nice twist to pie crusts, crepes, puddings and even ice cream. It is a volatile oil, extremely strong and must be used sparingly to avoid  overwhelming your dish. Can be added to coffee or tea by floating a pod or two but for more intense flavor ground cardamom can be used.

Cardamom is used whole and ground in cooking. Widely available as whole pods, hulled seeds and ground. For maximum flavor purchase only whole pods or seeds. The pods are naturally green but are also available bleached white. Bleaching wipes out much of the flavor so purchase only the green. The deeper green pods cost more than lighter green, but add nothing additional to flavor as the color is mostly cosmetic.

To hull, lightly crush the pods with flat side of large kitchen knife, peel away the skin and discard. Separate the bunched up seeds clinging to the membrane and discard membrane.

Stored, tightly covered, in cool dark place, cardamom will keep for one year although the color will dull.


At first glance caraway resembles cumin but it has a crescent shape and sharp ridges and is a completely different spice. When crushed, caraway releases an aroma reminiscent of rye bread and bakeries. It is believed to be the oldest spice in Europe.

Caraway is packed with medicinal benefits, particularly stomacic and carminative ones. A sprinkle of caraway is often added to hard-to-digest starches as in potato salad. In European cooking caraway is also associated with cabbage because it both enhances the flavor and makes cabbage more digestible. Ground caraway is used as a dough enhancer in yeast breads, rolls and crackers.

It is used both whole and ground in cooking and widely available in markets. It is best to purchase whole seeds and  grind as needed. When using whole seeds bruise them by running a rolling pin over them.They can be easily ground in a mortar and pestle or electric grinder. Caraway will keep up to a year stored in a cool dark place and kept tightly covered.

If caraway is not available, use a combination of anise and cumin in equal portions.

Celery Seed

Celery is native to southern Europe and it is the seeds of the wild celery plant, not the cultivated vegetable, that are used as a spice. The seeds are tiny,, brownish-gray and are bitter to the taste with an intense but very pleasant citrusy bouquet. An excess of celery seeds can lend a bitter taste to a dish so use by the pinch and you will get all the flavor you need.

Celery seeds have many medicinal benefits. They are both a stimulant and a sedative that promotes inner calm and peace as well as a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. The Romans considered them a carminative and an aphrodisiac.

Celery seeds are used whole and crushed in cooking, are widely available, and can be purchased whole or ground as needed. When using them whole gently bruise them to release their aroma by running a rolling pin over them.

Stored tightly covered in a cool dark place, celery seeds keep indefinitely. If not available twice the amount of finely minced celery tops will make a reasonable substitute. 


Also know as fresh coriander and Chines parsley. The coriander plant ( Coriandrum Sativum) is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and produces both the herb cilantro (leaves) and the spice coriander (the seeds). Cilantro - the Spanish name for this herb , is used to avoid confusion between the two.

Cilantro has a strong scent reminiscent of lemon, parsley, and seaweed with some undertones of pepper and mint. It is one of the most widely used herbs in cooking. Coriander seeds do not have this unique aroma.

It is indispensable in Mexican dishes, Chinese dim sum, and Indian curries and is a rich source of vitamins C and A. It is ideally suited for salads, dips and sauces.

Cilantro bruises easily so should be handled with some care. Used whole, shredded, chopped, and minced in cooking. It will turn black when cooked in an acid medium like tomato-based sauce but the volatile oil (prime flavor compound) oxidizes and vanishes quickly when exposed to heat. It should therefore be cooked briefly and added to your dish at the last minute.

Cilantro, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag, will keep well in the refrigerator for 1 week, provided the leaves are not wet. Dried cilantro stored in a tightly covered container and kept in a cool dark place will last for 3 months.


One of the oldest spices known to man, traded by the Babylonians 4500 years ago. It is the scented bark of the evergreen tree Cinnamum zeylanicum, native to India and Sri Lanka. It is the inner bark of the tree branches stripped away from the outer bark and dried. As it dries it curls up into quills which are cut into 3-inch pieces for shipping.

The cinnamon available in the American market is cassia cinnamon, the bark of he Asian evergreen Cinnamonum cassia, native to eastern India and Vietnam. Cassia cinnamon is not true cinnamon but is widely used because it is cheaper.

Cinnamon is used whole and ground in cooking. It is best to purchase whole and grind as needed.True cinnamon has a flaky, paper thin bark and is easy to crush with a mortar and pestle but cassia cinnamon is not. Use a coffee grinder after first breaking it into smaller bits. Sift ground cinnamon before use. Stored, tightly covered in a cool dark place, cinnamon keeps for 1 year.


Is the bud of the tree Eugenia Aromatica, native to the Moluccas (Spice Islands) part of Indonesia. The pale green buds are harvested while still unopened then spread on mats and sun-dried.

The essential oil of clove has a peppery aroma and sweet taste reminiscent of bitter almond and vanilla. Clove goes well with saline flavors such as ham, pork, and sausage. Famous for its antibacterial properties, clove is added to such preserved condiments as ketchup, cured meats, and jams.

It is one of the three most important spices in baking (cinnamon and dried ginger being the other two). Clove is an extremely strong spice and must be used sparingly in small pinches. Used in excess it may overwhelm a dish and lend it a bitter-hot taste.

Used whole or ground it is widely available in supermarkets. Best purchased whole and ground (mortar & pestle or electric grinder) as needed. Store in a tightly covered contained, in cold dark place it will keep indefinitely, although the color will dull over time.

No other spice has the characteristic aroma of clove and while there is no substitute for the real thing, Allspice may be used in an emergency.


A light brown seed resembling the caraway seed but is smaller and plumper. Cumin belongs to the same highly aromatic Umbelliferae family as caraway, dill, coriander, fennel and celery.

This ancient spice, cultivated in the valley of the Nile since ancient times, was in popular use 3000 BCE. Eber's Papyrus (about 1550 BCE) details many medical virtues of cumin. It has been in use in Asia since the Han Dynasty 206 BCE. There is a constant reference to cumin in the Bible by Isaiah as well as the 2000 year old Indian medical treatise, Susruta Mushkakadigana. Cumin, from earliest times, has been used as a stimulant, a carminative and a cure for colic.

Today, cumin is indispensable in Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Latin American cooking. It has a spicy-lemony aroma and a stinging bite due to chemical irritants similar to capsaicin. This is why a dish containing cumin but no chili tastes spicy or hot. Beans, peas, and meats flavored with cumin become more digestible.

Cumin is used whole and ground in cooking, is widely available and best purchased whole and ground as needed. To grind use a mortar and pestle or electric grinder. Stored, tightly covered, in a cool dark place, cumin will keep for up to 1 year.

If cumin is unavailable, substitute half the amount of caraway seeds.


Also known as dill weed, is native to the Mediterranean and northwestern Asia. The plant (Anethum graveolens) produces both an herb, the leaves, and the spice - yellowish-brown dill seeds (actually the dried fruit of the plant).

Throughout Egypt, India and Rome, Dill was known to have many medicinal benefits as an effective stomachic, a dill infusion was a common remedy for coli during the Middle Ages. While it has a somewhat bitter flavor it has a pleasant fragrance similar to anise, oregano and cedar. Mellow sauces, delicate fish and simple breads all benefit with a touch of dill.

Dill is used whole, chopped and mince in cooking. Kept loosely wrapped in a plastic bag will keep well in the refrigerator for 1 week, provided the leaves are not wet (rinse before using). Dried dillweed stored in a tightly covered container and kept in a cool dark place will last for 3 months.


The seeds are yellowish-green somewhat similar to cumin seeds, when they explode they have a licorice fragrance reminiscent of anise. Although not directly related to anise, fennel contains anethole, the same essential oil and flavor component present in anise. Fennel, however, is milder and less sweet and fragrant than anise.

The spice is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. In some countries it is used in candies, was a cure-all tea-infusion in the Middle Ages and is the primary flavoring spice in the Italian liqueur sambuca.

Fennel brings out the sweetness in foods, makes Brussels sprouts easier to digest and goes well with poultry, fish and  tomatoes.

Fennel seeds are used whole and ground and should be purchased whole and ground as needed. When used whole, bruise the seeds by lightly crushing them  with a rolling pin to release their aroma. Fennel seeds will keep indefinitely stored in an air-tight container in a cool dark place or refrigerator. Anise seeds make an acceptable substitute.


Is an aromatic herb of the mint family and very similar to oregano but more delicate in flavor. Grown since antiquity in western Asia and eastern Mediterranean regions, marjoram is now widely cultivated in many temperate regions of the world including England, northern Europe, US and India. The small  oval light-green satiny leaves are mildly pungent and pleasantly bitter with an aroma reminiscent of basil and thyme.

Marjoram has been valued since ancient times for cooking, medicine and perfumery. The delicate spring like bouquet goes well in ices, salads, uncooked tomato sauces and herb butters.

Fresh marjoram is available in markets from late spring until late fall. Dried marjoram is widely available.Dried marjoram will keep for up to a year stored tightly sealed in a cool dark place. Fresh marjoram will keep refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to two weeks provided the leaves are not wet.

If marjoram is not available oregano makes an acceptable substitute.


Actually spearmint, is a common weed like herb. Grown since ancient times in many temperate regions of the world and is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. The Romans and Greeks used it in condiments and compotes and scented their baths and bedchambers with it. Hippocrates known as "the father of medicine" frequently prescribed mint for digestive ailments and it has been long known as a carminative, stomachic and restorative. Mint made its way from the Mediterranean to China, India and central Asia as early as the first century.

Fresh mint is used whole, chopped, and minced in cooking. It is widely available in most markets in fresh or dried form. It bruises easily and should be handled with care.It will turn black when cooked in an acid medium e.g. tomato sauce. Its volatile oil oxidizes and vanishes rapidly when exposed to heat so it should be added to dishes at the last minute. Loosely wrapped in a plastic bag fresh mint will keep refrigerated for 1 week as long as leaves are not stored wet. Dried mint, tightly covered, will keep for up to 3 months in a cool dark place.


Is a fragrance often associated with the holidays in the US imbuing everything from eggnog to cakes and even goose. Nutmeg is the dried seed-like kernel of the fruit of the evergreen tree Myristica Fragrans, native to the Moluccas or Spice Islands, now part of Indonesia. It is now widely cultivated in many tropical regions, particularly Grenada. The fruit is harvested when ripe and slit open. The lacy membrane covering the seed (used for mace) is removed and the seed is dried and then is cut open to get to the oily brown kernel, the spice nutmeg.

The use of nutmeg in Asia dates back to pre-Christian days and was well known for its euphoric and hallucinogenic properties. Ancient Indian medical treatises describe the many virtues of nutmeg.

Nutmeg is slightly sweeter than mace and is therefore better suited to desserts and delicate sauces, vegetables and fruits. Both nutmeg and mace have the quality of bringing out the sweetness in vegetables adding a buttery flavor.

Nutmeg is used grated in cooking and should be purchased whole and freshly grated as needed. Nutmeg will keep indefinitely stored tightly covered in a cool dark place.

If nutmeg is not available mace can be substituted.


Scientifically named Origanum vulgare by Carolus Linnaeus – is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall, with opposite leaves 1–4 cm long. The flowers are purple, 3–4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative O. majorana is then known as sweet marjoram.

Oregano has been in wide use both for its culinary flavor and medicinal properties before recorded history.

Many different varieties of oregano are grown around the world and can be grouped into strong and mild categories. Those grown in hot, dry regions e.g. Italy, Spain, Mexico are highly perfumed; oregano grown in cool climates like North America are mild and subtle. The oregano grown in your garden or fro your market is more like sweet marjoram.

Oregano dries well holding its highly fragrant, pungent oils. While all the imported oreganos are highly aromatic, the Greek is preferred followed by Italian, Spanish and Mexican. Dried, oregano can be stored for up to 1 year if tightly covered and kept in a cool dark place. The color may dull with time. Fresh oregano is available from your local market from late spring to late fall and will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator stored in a plastic bag as long as leaves are dry.


Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annum (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). In many European languages, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot. Flavors also vary from country to country.

Paprika is produced in a number of places including Spain, Hungary, and California. It is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. Paprika is principally used to season and color rices, stews, and soups, such as goulash, and in the preparation of sausages as an ingredient that is mixed with meats and other spices. In the United States, paprika is frequently sprinkled on foods as a garnish, but the flavor is more effectively produced by heating it gently in oil.

Hungary is a major source of paprika as is The Netherlands who is a major production and distribution source of paprika, especially grown in greenhouses. In Moroccan cuisine, paprika (tahmira) is usually found slightly moistened by the addition of a small amount of olive oil blended into it.


Parsley grows best in moist, well drained soil, with full sun. It grows best between 22–30 °C, and is usually grown from seed. Germination is slow, taking four to six weeks. Parsley attracts some wildlife. Some swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae; their caterpillars are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Bees and other nectar-feeding insects visit the flowers. Birds such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds.

In cultivation, Parsley is subdivided into several groups depending on the form of the plant, which is related to its end use. These are often treated as botanical varieties, but are cultivated selections, not of natural botanical origin. The two main groups of parsley used as herbs are curly leaf and Italian, or flat leaf; of these, the Neapolitanum Group more closely resembles the natural wild species. Flat-leaf parsley is preferred by some as it easier to cultivate, being more tolerant of both rain and sunshine, and has a stronger flavor, while curly leaf parsley is preferred by others because of its more decorative appearance in garnishing.

Although seldom used in Britain and the United States, root parsley is very common in central and eastern European cuisine, where it is used in soups and stews. Even though root parsley looks similar to the parsnip, it tastes quite different. Parsnips are among the closest relatives of parsley but the similarity of the names is a coincidence, parsnip meaning "forked turnip"; it is not closely related to real turnips.


This is the leaf of a woody evergreen shrub native to southeastern Europe. Since Roman times sage has been valued as a medicinal herb that revitalizes mind and body, a cure-all.Its wide culinary use is relatively recent, beginning wit the arrival of the herb i American gardens in the 19th century. Breakfast sausage and turkey stuffing get their distinctive flavor from sage.The herb lends not only flavor but acts as a digestive and a preservative since sage has antioxidant properties.

Sage is a powerful flavoring and a leaf is all you will need. It pairs well with meat, game, fatty fish and poultry.

Fresh sage is used whole and minced in cooking.  Widely available from late spring until late fall. Dried sage is available whole, crushed (known as rubbed) and ground. Loosely packed in a plastic bag whole leaves - as long as they are dry - will keep up to two weeks in your refrigerator. Dried sage stored tightly covered in a cool dark place will keep up to a year.

The herb will grow easily in a pot indoors close to a sunny window and dries well retaining much of its fragrance.


Native to western and northwestern Asia, the thin leaves give off a licorice fragrance when crushed.

It pairs well with chicken and seafood. Good with sautéed okra, mushrooms and roasted onions. Cream-based sauces and reduction sauces benefit from tarragon. It can be easily infused in vinegar by pouring warm vinegar over the herb and letting it stand covered for a week.

Tarragon is used whole, chopped and minced in cooking. Tightly sealed in a plastic bag, tarragon will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, provided the leaves are not wet. Use only the fresh herb as the volatile oil that gives tarragon its flavor evaporates during drying leaving the leaves practically tasteless. ground star anise my be a useful substitute if fresh tarragon is not available.


Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs". In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.

Thyme is widely used in cooking. The herb is a basic ingredient in Levantine (Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian Jordanian, Israel), Libyan, Indian, Italian, French, Albanian, Persian, Portuguese, Assyrian, Spanish, Greek, Nigerian, Caribbean, and Turkish cuisines, and in those derived from them. Thyme is often used to flavor meats, soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavor with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. Thyme, while flavorful, does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavorful, but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. While summer-seasonal, fresh greenhouse thyme is often available year round. Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced ½ to 1" apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon.  Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used, or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies 'bunch' or 'sprig', it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme. Leaves may be removed from stems by pulling through the fingers or scrapping with a knife. Leaves are often chopped. Thyme retains its flavor on drying better than many other herbs. As usual with dried herbs, less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb, use one-third as much dried as fresh thyme - a little less if it is ground.  Assuming a four-inch sprig (they are often somewhat longer), estimate that six sprigs will yield one tablespoon of leaves. The dried equivalent is 1:3, so substitute one teaspoon of dried or three-fourths of a teaspoon of ground thyme for six small sprigs. As with bay, thyme is slow to release its flavors, so it is usually added early in the cooking process.