The $5 Grocery You Should Always Have in Your Pantry (It’s the Unsung Hero of All My Dinners)


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Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought a bunch of cilantro, basil, parsley, or mint; minced up what was needed for an immediate recipe; and then either forgot about the rest or eventually circled back to a wilted bundle of sad little sticks. Raise your other hand if you’ve ever purchased a big knob of ginger or a pack of peeled garlic cloves with grand, aromatic culinary ambition in mind, only to eventually realize that you’ve wasted money, food, and fridge space on what’s become something shriveled or rancid (or both).

If you, like me, have both hands sheepishly in the air right now, let me turn you on to a discovery that saved me from all kinds of dried-up messes in my refrigerator and further chagrin: Litehouse’s freeze-dried herbs. 

IMAGE: shot of 9 jars laying flat on table

What’s So Great About Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs?

So much! According to Litehouse, the herbs are harvested at peak freshness and flash-frozen, before being loaded into a freeze-drying tunnel for sublimation, which removes the moisture while retaining the herbs’ cell structure. This process also helps the herbs maintain their nutritional value, even as they become a crunchy version of their former selves.

I’ve collected nearly all 18 varieties, capturing them in the wild at various Krogers like so many Pokemon. During the most recent holiday season, I gifted a custom bag filled with my favorite, most utilitarian varieties to a cheffy friend.

For me, it starts with their aroma, which is grassier and sometimes even stronger than traditionally high-temperature air-dried herbs. (The standard process concentrates the oils, but also strips that fresh factor.)

IMAGE: 1 of the shots of the 11 jars stacked on top of each other 

With these jars, there’s little to slow my cooking flow. I don’t need to rinse, peel, strip, or slice a thing. It also saves me paper towels and cutting board space. 

Then there’s the actual economics: A single bunch of herbs, for instance, can cost anywhere from one to three dollars, depending on your market. Quality and freshness may be iffy, and you might end up wasting half of it. (Think of how many methods exist to keep herbs fresh!) That all adds up over the course of a year. 

So while the price of each jar of Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs is higher than a bunch of the fresh stuff, you’re actually getting three times the amount. Plus, they last longer — even without any storage hacks. 

IMAGE: bowl of pasta with herbs

What’s the Best Way to Use Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs?

Litehouse freeze-dried herbs and aromatics are an even one-for-one swap for the fresh stuff. How simple is that? This is because, as mentioned, they don’t lose too much volume with this gentler dehydration process.

They’re easy to gently reconstitute — just cook with it as you would its fresh cousin. Dress up fast and easy meal solutions by adding Litehouse Freeze-Dried Chives as you reheat a can of New England clam chowder or rehydrate your favorite instant mashed potatoes. The parsley perks right up in soups, gravy for Swedish meatballs, and salads like tabbouleh. I use freeze-dried dill in potato and tuna salad recipes, as well as cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches.

IMAGE: 2 jars in hand (basil and ginger)

And when the weather warms up again, the freeze-dried mint is my secret ingredient for delicious fruit smoothies and summer cocktails. The only way I’ll eat watermelon is in a salad with feta and this mint.

The freeze-dried garlic goes into stir-fries, sautés, and any and all sauces. My kitchen fills with a familiar aroma as the olive oil gets infused with the allium. I do the same with Litehouse’s ginger, which also goes in stir-fries and sauces, as well as dumplings, marinades, and in my steamer with fresh vegetables or fish.

Buy: Litehouse Freeze Dried Garlic, $5.24 for 1.58 ounces at Walmart

What pantry staples do you swear by for flavorful dinners? Tell us about it in the comments below.





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