Herbs are plants that are often associated with cooking and flavoring food. Most often, it is the leafy part of the plant that offers the distinctive flavors. When the leaves are cut from the plant, the roots remain and the leaves will grow back in future seasons. An abundance of fresh herbs would allow excess leaves to be dried and stored ready for use at a later date. Herb gardens can be grown indoors or outdoors.
Herbs are little culinary secrets, packed with vibrant flavors and aromatic compounds that elevate every dish. Not only do herbs add layers of taste to our food, but they also come with a plethora of health benefits.
Here is a guide on cultivating a variety of herbs at home and incorporating them into your daily cooking regimes.
Growing Conditions for Herbs
Most herbs thrive under similar conditions:
- Soil: Well-draining potting mix.
- Light: Ideally, a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Water: Allow the soil to dry out between watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
- Temperature: Herbs tend to grow well between 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C).
Oregano (Origanum vulgare): This Mediterranean favorite needs full sunlight and is drought-resistant. Its earthy, robust flavor pairs perfectly with tomato-based dishes.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): With tiny leaves packed with flavor, thyme loves a sunny spot. Use in roasts, stews, or infused oils.
Sage (Salvia officinalis): This herb prefers full sunlight and well-drained soil. With its fuzzy leaves and unique taste, it is a staple in poultry dishes and stuffings (sage and onion stuffing being one of our favorites).
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil thrives in sunlight and well-draining soil. Ideal for pesto, pasta, and fresh salads.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): This herb enjoys sunlight and prefers slightly dry conditions. Its anise-like flavor makes it a unique addition to salads and chicken dishes.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): Also known as cilantro, coriander thrives in cooler temperatures. Every part of the plant is edible once cleaned and cooked – seeds, stems, and leaves. Use in curries, salsas, and garnishes.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana): Prefers sunlight and well-drained soil. It’s similar to oregano but milder. Excellent for marinades and vinaigrettes.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): This woody herb loves full sunlight. Its needle-like leaves add flavor to grills, roasts, and bread.
Mint (Mentha): Prefers partial shade and keeps the soil moist. Mint is versatile, and can be great in both savory dishes, like lamb, salads, etc. and desserts, such as sorbets.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives, relatives of onions and garlic, enjoy full sunlight. Sprinkle freshly chopped chives over omelets, baked potatoes, or use them as garnish.
Before consuming anything from your garden, ensure it’s safe to eat. It’s your responsibility to consult with a qualified and indemnified expert if in doubt.
Recipes Ideas with Fresh Herbs
- Rosemary Lamb Chops: Season chops with rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and grill.
- Thyme Roast Chicken: Stuff the bird with lemon slices and thyme, and roast till golden.
- Tarragon Creamy Chicken: Pan-fry chicken breasts, and finish with a creamy tarragon sauce.
- Minted Pea Soup: Blend boiled peas, mint, vegetable stock, and season to taste.
- Basil Pesto Pasta: Whizz basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and season. Mix with cooked pasta.
- Sage & Brown Butter Gnocchi: Pan-fry boiled gnocchi in brown butter and sage leaves until crispy.
Growing herbs at home is a delightful way to infuse your dishes with fresh flavors. From garden to plate, these green wonders not only enhance the culinary experience but also make the cooking journey quite therapeutic and very rewarding.
See all our other herb articles to inspire you to try some of the great-tasting herbs from around the world.
Happy gardening and bon appétit!