Growing Culinary Herbs for Cooking

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to always have a fresh from the plant supply of culinary herbs we commonly use in our cooking on a every day basis? There is a simple answer to this by simply growing our own herbal garden of the required variety of herbs for cooking. Growing a herbal garden is very simple and can be achieved in no time at all and you will be enjoying the heightened taste of your meals.

Basic Herbal plants mix
If you are a beginner herb gardener, you might not know what herbs to plant since there are so many to choose from.
You may wish to grow parsley, thyme, savory, marjoram, mint, chives and basil which are some of the more common herbs used in cooking.

Growing a variety of flavors and uses in cooking is a good direction to follow so that you are not stuck with all one type of herb. Make a good blend from this type of example:

  • Strong herbs:  rosemary, sage and winter savory
  • Accent herbs:  dill, mint, sweet basil, sweet marjoram and thyme
  • Blending herbs: chives, summer savory and parsley

This is a good choice of herbs to  start out with, as time goes by you might wish to add other plants to the growing garden. As you make your choice of plants to grow, be aware that herbs are either annuals, biennials and perennials and the climate will affect them accordingly.

  • Annuals include anise, basil, chervil, coriander, dill and summer savory. These plants herbs will bloom only for one season and then they die.
  • Some samples of Biennials are caraway and parsley. Biennials live for two seasons and only bloom on the second season.
  • Perennials are chives, fennel, lovage, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme and winter savory. They bloom each season once they have been established and, therefore, are very popular.

Preparation and Drying Herbs for Use
Before you use herbs in cooking, you have to dry them first. Most herbs reach their peak just before they flower so you can collect them for drying and storage when this occur.

Cut the herbs in the early morning when the dew has just dried. Wash the herbs with the leaves on the stem in cold water to remove any dirt, dust, bugs, etc. You can drain them using a towel or hang them upside down in the sun to let the water evaporate.

Herbs must be properly dried before they are stored and certain hers such as mint and basil need to be dried quickly otherwise they mold. One way of natural air drying is to hang them in paper bags in a dark well ventilated place. Hang upside down for this will let the essential oils flow from the stems to the leaves.

It normally takes about 1 to 2 weeks for the herbs to be completely dry and feel crumbly. If you need to dry quickly you can use an conventional or microwave oven. Once your herbs are properly dried you can store them until use.

Which Herbs Goes Well With Which Foods
Though there are no official set of rules to follow, these are the general guidelines.

  • Basil is good for tomatoes and other vegetables as well as fish, meat, poultry, potatoes, cheese, garlic and summer fruit.
  • Thyme is good on meats as well as soups and stew and vegetable dishes
  • Nasturtium is a good garnish for salads, entrees and desserts and sage is good on meat and fish dishes.
  • Oregano is best on Italian dishes and dill is good for many things such as chicken, fish, beef, asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, breads, eggs and cheese.
  • Mint is also often used for flavor in drinks and sauces.

You don’t want the herbs to over power the food, remember that fresh herbs you are growing will have more flavor and taste so you don’t want the herb to get lost in the flavor of the dish you are using it in. Stronger herb will go well with a more robust meat or food and a more subtle herb goes well with a lighter dish.

 

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