Herbs are a wide variety of aromatic plants that are used for culinary, medicinal, and aromatic purposes. These versatile plants have been cherished for centuries for their distinct flavours, enticing scents, and numerous health benefits.
The health benefits of herbs are highly varied because the term covers a wide variety of plants. Herbs like turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties, while herbs like oregano and parsley are anti-oxidative. You can be sure that whatever herbs you choose, they will benefit your overall health.
dry them, blend and use in spice mixes
use as a topper to add hints of flavour
some herbs like lavender, chamomile and turmeric can even be used as skincare remedies.
herbs like lavender can be bundled and stored with clothes to give them a fresh scent
herbs can be dried and steeped to make delicious teas
and many more
Cooking With Herbs
Before using your herbs, make sure you thoroughly wash and dry them. These plants are grown in dirt and can have lingering particles on their leaves even when you can't see them. Herbs can be enjoyed fresh or dried.
To dry your herbs:
You'll want to gather about 5–10 stems per bundle and tie them together at the base using string or a rubber band. Make sure the bundle is not too thick, as good air circulation is essential for drying.
Hang the bundle upside down in a cool, well-ventilated area with low humidity. You can use hooks, a drying rack, or simply hang them upside down from a string or clothesline. Ensure the herbs are suspended freely without touching each other.
Leave the herb bundles to air dry for about 1-2 weeks, or until the herbs become dry and brittle to the touch.
Once the herbs are completely dried, remove the leaves from the stems by gently rubbing or crumbling them. Discard the stems and store the dried leaves in airtight containers, such as glass jars or resealable bags. Keep the containers in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and moisture.
You can also dry herbs using a food dehydrator or an oven set to a low temperature. Remember that dried herbs are 2-4 times stronger in flavour than fresh herbs.
When using fresh herbs, here are a couple cooking tips that can be useful:
Heating herbs with unsalted butter or other neutral cooking oils will draw out and extend the flavour of the aromatic oils. It also helps to better blend the flavours of multiple herbs.
The more cut surface of the herb leaf that is exposed, the more aromatic oil can be absorbed, so finely chop the leaves of fresh herbs or grind them in a mortar.
For soups and gravies, you can tie sprigs of fresh herbs in tiny bundles or place ground herbs in a cheesecloth bag and add them a while before cooking is completed. Remove the herbs when you have achieved the desired taste.
Extended cooking can destroy the delicate aroma and flavour of savoury herbs, so take caution and closely watch your dish.
Always wash and dry your herbs before storing them; you'd never want to store dirt with your fresh herbs. There are many ways to store herbs; here are a few:
Refrigerator storage: For tender herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley, place them in a glass or jar filled with a small amount of water, similar to a bouquet of flowers. Cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Change the water every few days to keep the herbs fresh.
Freezing: Freezing is a great method to preserve the flavour of herbs for a longer duration. One way to freeze herbs is by chopping or mincing them and placing them in ice cube trays. Fill each section with herbs and cover them with water or olive oil. Once frozen, transfer the herb cubes to a freezer-safe bag for easy use in cooking.
Herb-infused oils and vinegars: Extend the lifespan of herbs by infusing them into oils or vinegars. Fill a sterilized glass jar with your desired herb and cover it with oil or vinegar. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place. Over time, the flavors of the herbs will infuse into the liquid, creating a delightful addition to your culinary creations.
As mentioned before, you can also dry your herbs and keep them in your pantry. Always label and date your stored herbs to keep track of their freshness. Or you can purchase fresh herbs at wfm2go.ca, so you'll always have a supply of fresh herbs.