Mother Earth Living

Beginning Herbalist: What Do I Do With These Herbs?

Do you have more herbs to harvest than you know what to do with? Check out these expert tips for using up your herbal harvest.
By Rita Buchanan
June/July 1998
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

Making Gnocchi: A Pictorial

Guest blogger KyLynn Hull tries her hand at making gnocchi.

Herbs and Herbalists

It's a constant battle: medicine versus herbs. This is how Marguerite got interested in herbs.

Eco-Decor Delights: Mystic Masala Ayurvedic Aromatherapy

Mystic Masala offers Ayurveda-based candles, soaps, and body products made from sustainable herbs an...

Herby Tip: De-Ice with Garlic

One Iowa city used herbs as a way to de-ice their dangerous roads.

Question: My first herb garden is thriving. How do I use all these herbs I’m harvesting? Can you suggest some ways I can add more herbs to my cooking that my children won’t object to? (They complain about green flakes.)

Answer: Sprinkling flakes of herbs into food as you cook is only one of many ways to use herbs. Here are some other ideas.

• For soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, and other simmered foods, try packaging the herbs so that you can lift them out before serving. Gather the stems of fresh herbs into a bundle and tie it firmly with string. Put dried herbs, which crumble easily, in a tea ball or muslin tea bag, or tie them into a small square of cheesecloth or nylon panty hose.

• Simmer herbs with soup bones and vegetables, or with vegetables alone, then strain the broth to use in soups, sauces, or casseroles, or for cooking rice or pasta.

• Pour boiling water over herbs, let it stand for a few minutes as though brewing tea, then strain it and use it for cooking vegetables or pasta, poaching fish, or as the liquid when making bread.

• Add a pinch of herbs to the water in the bottom of the pan when you’re steaming vegetables or other food.

• When grilling foods, put a few stems (fresh or dried) of rosemary, thyme, savory, oregano, or marjoram on the coals to produce fragrant smoke. Tie fresh stems of those herbs and/or parsley, basil, or tarragon to a chopstick, and use this herb brush for basting meat and vegetables as you grill them or roast or broil them in the oven.

• Prepare herb-flavored vinegars and oils, following printed recipes or experimenting with your own combinations of ingredients. Simply fill a clean glass jar with fresh herbs, cover them with cider vinegar or wine vinegar or with olive oil or other cooking oil, put on the lid, set the jar aside for a few weeks, then strain out the herbs and rebottle the vinegar or oil. Store flavored vinegars at room temperature but refrigerate flavored oils. (Don’t include fresh garlic in flavored oils that you expect to keep longer than a few days, as it can spoil even when refrigerated.) Sprinkle herb-flavored vinegar on steamed vegetables, add it to soups and sauces, or use it in marinades. Herb-­flavored oil is also good in marinades, as well as for stir-frying, basting roasted meats and vegetables, and drizzling over potatoes or pasta. Use it as the fat in muffin and other bread recipes. Combine an herbed vinegar with an herbed oil to make a savory salad dressing with no objectionable flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

However you prepare them, use herbs sparingly to create a delicate flavor that enhances but doesn’t overwhelm the food itself. Also, be aware that our taste buds become less sen­sitive as we mature, so something that tastes good to an adult may seem unpleasantly intense to a child.

Herb Flavor at the Table

Another approach is to let people season their own food at the table. Some herbal options:

• Mix finely chopped parsley, chives, basil, lemon thyme, or other herbs into softened butter or margarine. Spread it on bread, potatoes, rice, and cooked vegetables. (Refrigerate the butter between meals.)

• Combine table salt and dried, powdered herbs to make an all-purpose seasoning that you can keep in a shaker alongside the salt and pepper. Try different combinations of salt, parsley, chives, lovage, celery seeds, dill, lemon balm, paprika, black pepper, garlic ­powder, and spices. Use a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or blender to pulverize the herbs fine enough to pass through the holes in a salt shaker. Some commercial herb jars have large-holed shaker tops that will accommodate coarser mixtures.


Rita Buchanan grows lots of culinary herbs in her gardens in Winsted, Connecticut.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.