Herbs...mmm!

 
 

I often have customers lament, “I don’t know what herbs to plant.”  My answer is always, “what do you like to eat?”  Italian food?  Stick with Greek Oregano, Marjoram, Sweet Basil.  Mexican food?  Cilantro & Spearmint.  French food?  Tarragon for sure. 


Herbs are easy.  Make sure they get a lot of sun and consistent water.  Most can just as easily be planted in containers as well as in the ground.  Keep them under control by constantly picking their leaves and using them in your dinner, breakfast, and lunches!

 


MINT: Chop up some fresh mint and add to roasted vegetables for a salad.  Or replace half the amount of fresh parsley called for in a recipe with fresh mint.

THYME: Pairs nicely with grilled chicken, fish, beans, or in a marinade.  Just rub your thumb and index finger up the stem to remove the leaves.  Leaves are so small you won’t have to chop them!

CHIVES: Love onions but not the heartburn that comes with?  Chop chives into peas or beef stew or even scrambled eggs.  Also great with cheese dishes (think cheesy potatoes), fish, or chicken.

GREEK OREGANO:  Wonderful with shellfish, tomatoes, potatoes, pork, beef, and of course pasta.

ROSEMARY: Brighten up beef dishes, poultry, or even tofu with this Mediterranean native.  Caution a little goes a long way and be sure and chop the leaves finely (discard the woody stem).

Bee’s Top 10 Herbs

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Basil - couldn’t eat bruschetta without it!  Or pizza or pasta or anything Italian for that matter.

Cilantro - mixed with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and ANYTHING tastes fresher and better!

Greek Oregano - the best oregano flavor.  Takes plain old chicken broth to a whole new level.

Chives - make your taste buds jump for joy next time you heat up frozen veges.

Apple Mint - makes plain old water taste like you’re drinking it sunny poolside.

Rosemary - Want to feel like you’re in Tuscany?  Add a little rosemary to send you on your way.

Dill - distinct flavor but really makes bland fish perk up, especially paired with lemon balm.

English Thyme - beef roast with potatoes and carrots and thyme -- great Sunday dinner!

Flat Leaf Parsley - strong fresh flavor perks up boring salads in a snap.

Spearmint - think Mojitos! 

Cooking Pairs

When I first ventured into the world of herbs the most common way to preserve herbs was, well, cut and dry -- you cut and dried them.  But now I’m finding in order to better capture the true flavor of most herbs the best way is to FREEZE the leaves.


Periodically throughout the growing season I will cut some herb stems, wash them, and air dry them on paper towels.  Depending on their leaf size, I will either remove the leaves from the stem (basil, mint, sage) or freeze them stem and all (thyme, rosemary, oregano) in ziplock bags, pressing out as much air as I can.


Come winter when I use them that’s when I will chop the leaves.  This preserves as much of the herb’s essential oils that give it it’s great flavor.

Pinching the flower blooms as soon as they appear is essential in keeping the herb’s true flavor in tact. 

Preserving Herbs