Below are some tools and links to help you with Harvesting and Storing your herbs.
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There are lots of interesting recipes available plus many more ideas to encourage you to experiment by adding herbs to your favorite recipes.
With a little imagination, you can find all sorts of ways to use herbs in your cooking, supplementing home-grown herbs with fresh herbs from the supermarket if necessary.
Fragile herbs-parsley, chervil, tarragon, mint and basil- are all best used coarsely chopped as their leaves bruise easily. They are frequently used raw or added at the end of cooking as their flavor is lessened by heat. More robust herbs—rosemary, bay, sage and marjoram—are generally used cooked and they also dry more successfully than fragile herbs. Herbs should be chopped with a sharp knife until they are the texture you require, or they can be ground with a pestle and mortar or in a food processor to release their essential oils.
Herbs in Soups and Starters
Many plain soups can be given extra flavor with the addition of a few fresh herbs; chives or lemon balm are excellent in a potato or leek soup, sprinkle borage in a tomato soup, or add coriander (cilantro) seed to give extra spice. Parsley is often used to garnish soups but will release more flavor if it is stirred in just before serving or sprinkled in the soup. Croutons are tasty when they are fried with chopped garlic and a few chopped herbs.
Light vegetable starters will benefit from herb sauces: lemon thyme or lemon balm can be added to a white sauce made with a mixture of milk or stock to create a light, lemony sauce to coat vegetables such as broccoli. Prawn can be served on cucumber slices with a minty or chervil flavored mayonnaise, or tossed in flour spiced with ground coriander seed and fried quickly. Fish pâtés benefit from the addition of a little dill or parsley.
A fresh bouquet garni takes only moments to prepare: simply tie together sprigs of thyme of parsley and a bay leaf. You can vary this traditional mixture by substituting sage or basil, rosemary, marjoram, tarragon or dill for either the parsley or thyme. Leave a length of string to tie on to the handle of the saucepan or casserole dish so that the bouquet garni can be easily removed before serving.
To make a bouquet garni with dried herbs, place spoonfuls of dried herbs in the center of a circle of muslin (cheesecloth), gather up the edges and tie them into a sachet. A few sachets of bouquet garni in an attractive box makes a useful gift.
Take equal quantities of finely chopped fresh herbs – tarragon, chives and chervil, sometimes with parsley – and add to savory dishes at the end of cooking.
Kali S. Winters
Home herb gardens have become quite popular these days, and for good reason. People are becoming more and more aware of the health benifit herbs provide as well as their practial value, purpose served, and the continued use of the herb itself. When most people think of growing garden herbs, the first thought that comes to mind is an herbs culinary purpose, but herbs are so much greater than that single purpose. Herbs are known for their pleasant aroma and beauty and their Medicinal uses as well.
One of the most popular and common herbs grown in a home herb garden is basil. “Dark Opal”, as it’s formally known, and regular green basil are beautiful additions to your backyard herb garden and often times is used as a decoration alone. Dark Opal is recognized by it’s light pink flowers and dark red leaves. Basil isn’t just an ornimental herb however, it is a great kitchen herb used to enhance tomato sauses and pastes. Additionally, Basil is an excellent mosiquito repellant when placed in containers around the backyard patio or deck.
Chives are another very popular herb. It is a very resiliant, petite looking herb that resembles a blade of grass. They are much stronger than they appear,and will grow well through any drought. Their toughness and sturdiness makes Chives a perfect addition for a home herb garden, especially if you don’t want a lot of fuss when gardening. Chives are great when used in salads, egg dishes, and many different sauces and appitizers.
Mint is also an herb that is easy to grow and is ideal for mint jelly, mint juleps, lemonade, and any other kind of fruity drink. Mint is a great addition to a home herb garden due to its unique minty smell. Two herbs that can not be excluded from anyone’s fresh herb garden are thyme and sage. Both of these herb gardening favorites are used for flavoring soups,chicken, turkey, pork, and other sausages. Sage is also grown sometimes for its beautiful blue spiked flowers.
Lavender is probably the best smelling herb of all. It’s wonderful, long lasting fragrance is often used in candles, as a perfume scent, and to improve the aroma in linen and cloths closets. The light purple flowers smell absolutely magnetic! It is also an awesome ortimental flower as well.
Other types of herbs often grown in fresh herb garden include borage (used in salads), chervil (used in egg dishes), sweet marjoram (flavors lamb, fish, salad, and soup), sesame (flavors crackers, cookies, and bread), and dill (flavors meats and used for pickling). Herb gardening allows gardeners to use herbs from their own backyard garden for Culinary, Medicinal and Ortimental delights! Herb gardening will produce much fresher herbs with more flavor than store-bought herbs, and are by far, a lot less inexpensive.
This is but a small excerpt from my latest e-Book: Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening! There you will find 12 free bonus books for your reading enjoyment.
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Herbs are very useful in strengthening the body and in treating disease. However they contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. So, they should be taken on the advice of an herbal practitioner.
Super kelp (also known as “Sea kelp ” and “Sea wrack ” ) is a sea herb that is one of the best sources of natural iodine and trace elements. It is also used as the principle agent in cures for obesity. In addition, it cleans out the kidneys and stimulates the thyroid and pituitary gland to produce growth hormones.
Garlic is a natural anti-biotic and is used to disinfect wounds, treat ear infections, cholera and typhus. This herb is anti-fungal and anti-oxidant agent and can help lower cholesterol. It may also be beneficial for risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and cancer. The excess of garlic can cause upset stomach/flatulence, occupational asthma, postoperative bleeding, bloating, bad breath, body odor, and skin irritation. People with bleeding disorders should not use garlic.
Parsley (Petroselinum) is one of the best known, diuretic and most nutritious herbs which contain large quantities of vitamins A, B, C and minerals calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. It’s very useful for kidney and urinary problems and water retention. Its usefulness can be judged by the saying: “if parsley is thrown into fishponds it will heal the sick fishes therein ” .
Green Tea Extract
Green tea extracts are one of the nature’s most powerful anti-oxidants. It helps prevent both heart disease and cancer by helping prevent vascular blood clotting and reducing cholesterol. It possesses antimicrobial properties that support immune-system health and protects against digestive and respiratory infections. The excess of green tea extracts may cause irritability, insomnia, heart palpitation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite.
Horse chestnut supports the vessels of our circulatory system and helps strengthen capillary cells and reduce fluid breakage. It is believed to be an excellent antioxidant to prevent wrinkles. It also helps in the treatments of phlebitis, varicosity and hemorrhoids.
Milk thistle has some active substances that helps maintain healthy liver function by protecting the liver from damage caused by viruses, toxins and alcohol. It is a herbal remedy for anthrax, asthma, bladder stones, cancer, catarrh, chest ailments, dropsy, fever, bleeding from the lungs or bronchia, hepatitis, rabies, jaundice, vaginal discharge, malaria, melancholy, piles, plague, pleurisy, spasms, and spleen and uterus problems. Taking excess of milk thistle may cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, rash or other skin reactions, joint pain, impotence, and anaphylaxis. It should not be taken in pregnancy and while nursing.
This herb has healing, antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. It is used to treat a mildly upset stomach, bronchitis, nervous tension, insect bites, rheumatism, earache, toothaches and even athletes foot. It is also useful in relieve bloating, gas, urinary tract problems, rheumatoid arthritis, swollen glands, and lack of perspiration. In addition, it is as powerful as ‘morphine’ as a pain killer.
Kali Winters is gardening enthusiast and author who spends much of her time teaching others how to setup and maintain beautiful, amazing gardens. Check out her latest book, “Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening”. There you will find 12 free bonus e-books for your reading enjoyment.
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If you’re not the type of person who wants to spend their time managing an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and maintaining an outside herb garden. While the product itself might not seem as significant now, you’ll still enjoy the constant availability of fresh, delicious herbs to flavor your meals with. First you’ll want to choose the actual herbs for growing. You might have a difficult time doing this because of the huge scope of holistic herbs available. But the best way to choose is to do what I did; just take a look at the kitchen herbs you are already using. By planting your own fresh herb garden, you will save money compared to buying them in the grocery store; all the while having the added herbs benefits of freshness. Some of the herbs you might want to start with include rosemary, garlic, sage, basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley among others.
When choosing a location to place your home herb garden, you should remember that the soil should have a sufficient amount of drainage. If the dirt constantly gets watered and stays completely saturated, you will never have a chance of ever growing a healthy plant. One of the best ways to fix the drainage problem is to dig a foot deep in the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing all the soil. This will allow all that water to escape, thus saving your plants.
When you are ready to begin planting herbs, you might be tempted to buy the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much easier to grow them from an herbs seed rather than it is with other plants. Besides, you will save a bundle of money by sticking with seed packets. Some herbs grow at a dangerously fast rate. For example, if you plant mint in an open space then it will take over your entire garden in a matter of days. The best way to prevent this problem is to plant the more aggressive herbs in pots (with holes in the bottom to allow drainage, of course).
When it comes time to harvest the herbs you have labored so hard over, it can be fatal to your plant to harvest too much at one time. If your plant isn’t well established, it won’t be healthy enough to take any leaves at all, even if it looks like its not using them. You should wait until your plant has become well established for at least several months before taking off any leaves. This wait will definitely be worth it, because by growing unattended your plant will produce healthier herbs for years to come.
Once you’ve harvested your delicious home grown herbs, you’ll want to use them in cooking. Why else would you have grown them? Well the process first begins with drying them out. This is easily achieved by placing them on a screen for a good airing. Turn them often so they dry evenly. After they’re sufficiently dried to be used in cooking, you can consult the nearest cookbook for instructions on using them to effectively flavor any meal.
If you want to store your herbs for later usage, you should keep them in a glass container. Preferably brown so as not to let the light in. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage, you should regularly check the container to see if any moisture has accumulated. If it has, you must remove all the herbs and re-dry them. Put layers of salt between the rows of herbs for faster absorption. If moisture is left from the first drying process, it will encourage mildew after you have stored your herbs. Nobody likes mildew.
So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you should definitely consider setting up your own herb garden. It might require a little bit of work at first with setting it up for proper drainage and by picking which herbs you intend to grow. But after the initial preparation, it’s just a matter of watching them grow, then harvesting and drying all your favorite herbs for later use.
Check out my latest e-Book: Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening!
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Kali S Winters
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Anyone who has ever done any type of baking or cooking knows that the food just tastes better with seasoning. This can be as simple as adding salt and pepper, or as complicated as using a blend of spices for the perfect taste. What is surprising to some people is pepper is actually an herb.
Pepper is a berry from the Piper Nigrum plant. Black and white pepper are made from the same plant. The un-ripened berries are used for the black pepper while the red, ripe ones are used for the white pepper.
Along with the natural organic herb, pepper, many other herbs are used to create culinary masterpieces. Nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon are common varieties of herbs grown in many kitchen herb gardens. Sage, oregano and basil are three more popular culinary herbs.
As more and more plants were discovered for their pungent flavor, people started making extraordinary dishes. What would a roast beef sandwich be without horseradish? Try making a good breakfast sausage when there isn’t sage garden herbs around. Herb bread would just be plain old bread if it were not for the flavorful little buggers.
One of the most beneficial attributes to growing kitchen herbs is that herbs have no calories, have no fatty acids, no cholesterol, and generally no bad ingredients at all. They just have a unique taste that wakes the taste buds in all of us.
When using herbs for cooking, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way. Too much can actually distract you from the natural flavor of the food. The entire concept of using herbs is to highlight the natural flavors. Too much can overpower the food and result in a tossed meal.
Did you know that there is even an herb that adds the sweetness of sugar without all the calories? This is an herb known as STEVIA. Although this herb cannot be sold as a sweetener for foods, it can be used in place of sugar. One leaf has enough sweetener in it to sweeten a glass of lemonade. Imagine a hot summer day when the only thing that can cool you off is a frosty glass of ice cold tea! You can brew the tea from your backyard herb garden, pour it over the ice, add a leaf off the stevia plant and one off the lemon balm plant, and you have a wonderful sweetened glass of ice cold lemon tea! You can even use this herb in sauces, salad dressings or even your salsa instead of sugar to cut down on the calories.
Many of the meat marinades on the market get their flavoring from natural organic herbs. You can use dill with lemon balm on fish. Saffron in your rice is always a delight. Putting rosemary on a pork roast or lamb results in a mouth-watering treat. With so many different herbs on this planet, there is something for every dish you could possibly create.
Having herbs in the kitchen is a wonderful experience for the novice cook to the master chef. With the right blend of herbs, you too can make meat rubs, soup and stew bases, or how about trying a new flavor for your morning coffee or tea.
This is but a small excerpt from my new ebook: Holistic Herbs ~ A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening. If you would like to learn more about Holistic Herbs, Landscape and Garden design, Click Here to pick up your copy today! I’ve also included 12 free bonus books as well. Learn how to Harvest and Dry Herbs Here!
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Although you may think these herbs were called as such for culinary purposes…you will be surprised by the actual reference to the name.
In the middle ages, it was customary for the wealthy English noble to religiously bathe every three weeks. However, a peasant could not afford this luxury. The excessive nature of hauling and heating water for a nice warm bath proved to be too burdensome. Pneumonia became a concern during this time, for it was believed that bathing, especially during the winter months, would lead to chills and ultimately death. This historic period in history became then known as the “age of the great unwashed”.
Needless to say, body odor became quite pungent, especially when on many a cold winter night, it was customary to sleep two – three to a bed for warmth, wrapped in many a heavy blanket. The wealthy could afford the luxury of heavy doses of perfume, however the peasants simply slept beneath cuttings from very strong-smelling plants. These plants became known as stewing herbs for they were literally strewed about on floors, outhouses and even between the sheets of the beds to perfume the peasants.
During this era of the great unwashed, there evolved unique means of scenting clothing. Women’s long, voluminous skirts trailed behind them. In castle gardens, it was not uncommon to find a thyme lawn composed of a ground-hugging mat of aromatic Thymus serphyllum. When walked upon, plants were crushed, and then skirts trailed over them to soak up any oils exuded from the foliage.
Lavender is a very well known odor-covering stewing herb. Lavender’s Latin root name means to wash, or “lavare.” We inherited this herb from the bath-loving Romans, however, by medieval times, the Romans ceased using the herb as a scent for bathing and applied it as a masking fragrance quilted into hats or other particles of clothing.
Additionally during this time it was customary to throw table scrapes and bones to the household pet, whose shaggy and unkept mane was bathed less frequently than the peasants who housed them. Soon the filth caused many disease-breeding vermin within the confines of the house. Thereafter, history encountered a second reason for stewing herbs, as a pesticide. Many of the oils from herbs could deter fleas, lice, weevil and other undesirable insects.
There are many well known herbs today that Thomas Tusser indicated in his 1557 well known book, “A Hundreth Good Points of Husbandrie” . Basil, Lemon Balm, Sweet Fennel, Germander, Hyssop, Lavender, Santolina, Marjoram, Pennyroyal, Sage, Tansy and Winter Savory are among his list of 21 stewing herbs.
One such herb, Pennyroyal, also known as fleabane or Menta Pulegium, is a pungent member of the mint family. The homes where it was grown and liberally used for strewing, had fewer incidences of the Black Death, for the plague was spread by fleabites. The plants are still used today for stuffing dog beds and doghouses to discourage these pests from taking up residence.
The planted seat was also designed to scent clothing. It was created of carved stone and appeared much like a heavy church pew. The seat was hollowed out into a cavity about 6 inches deep and into this was packed earth planted with either chamomile or thyme. When a person sat down and crushed the plants, resulting oils soaked into breeches or skirts.
At the root of our most favored aromatic plants of the modern herb garden are the fragrances used to disguise aromas of the great unwashed. It was not until the dawn of the 20th century that bathing became a frequent practice. Let us rejoice in the luxury of bathing every day, knowing we no longer have to douse ourselves in perfume or live amid a pile of wilted herbs to abide each other’s company.
This is but a small excerpt from my new ebook: Holistic Herbs ~ A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening. If you would like to learn more about the many wonders of herbs, Click Here to grab your copy today!
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Kali S. Winters
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