There is nothing better than cooking with fresh herbs out of your home garden. Not only is it healthier to eat home grown foods, but it is affordable as well. With all of the pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, and preservatives that are added to the products that you buy from the store, many people are starting to grow their own organic herbs at home. Having a fresh supply of organic herbs and spices in your own home garden is easier than you may think. Here are the top 10 herbs that will add flavor and zest to your culinary creations.
- Basil: Although basil comes in many different varieties, sweet basil is commonly found in various recipes, such as pesto. Purple basil and Thai basil are other popular choices. You can either use the fresh leaves straight from the plant, or dry them for up to 6 months.
- Dill: Dill seeds and leaves are both used in cooking. The herb creates clusters of flowers which produce the dill seeds. The leaves are then gathered to form dill weed. The unique, spicy flavor of dill goes great in dishes such as potato salad, breads, omelets, salmon, steamed vegetables, rice, stew, and seafood dishes. You can also mix dill with butter or mayonnaise and use the spread for cucumber sandwiches.
- Chives: A member of the onion family, chives can add flavor to potato salad, baked potatoes, soups, dips, omelets, salads, and pasta. They also come in a garlic variety, which adds a hint of garlic to the mild onion taste. Make sure that you use your chives straight from the garden, as they lose flavor when dried.
- Cilantro: The pungent flavor from the cilantro leaves are a favorite in many Mexican dishes. Cilantro has a variety of medicinal properties as well, making it a favorite in everyone’s herb garden.
- Fennel: You can use fennel as both a spice and an herb in your recipes. Dried fennel seeds create the spice, which is used in Italian sauces, sausages, and meats.
- Lemon Grass: This strong citrus flavored herb can usually be found in Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Caribbean dishes. It is used as flavoring in curries, salads, and soups.
- Mints: The mint herb comes in many different varieties, including spearmint, peppermint, lemon mint, apple mint, and chocolate mint. This is the perfect herb for your garden if you love fresh tea. You can also freeze mint leaves in your ice cubes and use them to garnish your drinks. Since they have an amazing smell, you can use them for handmade soaps, creams, or other potions.
- Oregano: A member of the mint family, oregano has a warm and inviting scent. Although it is commonly used to flavor Greek, Spanish, Mexican, and Italian dishes, this robust spice can add flavor to any meat or vegetable dish.
- Parsley: The mild flavor of parsley makes it a popular choice for garnishing and adding a pop of color to your favorite dishes. Parsley contains many nutrients, and is a great ingredient to use when making fresh vegetable juice.
- Rosemary: Also a member of the mint family, rosemary is an evergreen shrub that will flourish in almost any climate. The piney flavor of rosemary goes great with vegetables, and meats.
- Sage: With its smoky and musty aroma, fresh sage is often used to flavor autumnal dishes. Since it has a strong flavor, using a little bit will add a wonderful accent to your dish.
- Thyme: Usually a summer herb, fresh thyme has a light lemon and minty taste. You can use Thyme in your French inspired dishes, such as lamb, veal, croquettes, and egg recipes. Dry your fresh thyme in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Although these are some of the most popular choices to plant in your personal herb garden, there are many more culinary herbs available, such as arugula, bay leaves, caraway, horseradish, and lavender. Simply look for the herbs that you use most in your favorite recipes. By researching the peak growth period for each herb in your garden, you can dry your herbs and make them last year round. Dry herbs also make a unique gift to your friends who love to cook. You can use your herb garden to supply everyone with a bottle of their favorite dried herb.
Planting an herb garden is a wonderful addition to any cook’s home. Not only will your herb garden look gorgeous, but it will make your yard and home smell wonderfully delicious.