Herbs are the most misunderstood and underutilized seasoning in the home kitchen. The confusion lies somewhere between a common lack of education and perhaps, a profitable marketing strategy by the herb industry itself.
Herbs, like many other plants were a common addition to the home garden. Picked and harvested as needed, and otherwise left alone, early cooks learned quickly the beauty of their addition to any meal. The herbs are a diverse group of plants from many different families. Many of the herbs used in yesteryear are not even on the radar screen of today’s home cook. I will try to demystify the use of some of the common herbs, introduce you to some new ones, and encourage you to grow your own, no matter how small your garden space might be.
Bay leaves, basil, parsley, oregano, sage, mint, rosemary and thyme are common culinary herbs used in many kitchens throughout the world. Their unique flavors liven all types of meals from soups to desserts, but did you know they are also about the easiest plants to grow in the garden? Successful growing and use requires answers to just a questions. First, in what season do they grow? Second, what are their general requirements for light, water and nutrition? Third, will they come back each year or do I need to replant? And finally, how do I harvest them?
Herbs are very forgiving plants. I generally cut the stems without regard to finding the perfect place to prune the plant with a pair of scissors. If I’m in the garden and my shoes are muddy, instead of tracking mud into the house and starting a potential world war, I just simply pull off what I need with my hands. There is truly nothing to worry about, except of course chopping the entire plant down at once. Herbs are meant to be picked and plucked often…and of course what follows is using them often!