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11 Fresh Herbs Every Home Cook Should Use

11 Fresh Herbs Every Home Cook Should Use


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Fresh herbs can take a dish from good to great. Here are some handy recipes and tips for keeping them fresh.

How to Use Fresh Herbs

What would pesto be without basil, or salsa sans cilantro? Whether used by the pinch or by the bunch, fresh herbs pull a recipe together by infusing the dish with unparalleled aromas and flavors. For example, basil's faint licorice flavor brightens lemon sorbet, while rosemary's piney zing complements chicken-zucchini skewers. Sometimes, when the effect you seek is subtle, refined, and delicate, a hint of herbs is enough; other times, handfuls are required.

Watch: How to Store Fresh Herbs

Basil

Basil is one of the most important culinary herbs. Sweet basil, the most common type, is redolent of licorice and cloves. Basil is used in the south of France to make pistou; its Italian cousin, pesto, is made just over the border. Used in sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads, basil is in top form when married to tomatoes, as in the famous salad from the island of Capri—Insalata Caprese, made with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fruity olive oil.

See More: Fresh Basil Recipes

Mint

Mint isn't just a little sprig that garnishes your dessert plate. It is extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In the Mediterranean, mint is treasured as a companion to lamb, and is often used in fruit and vegetable salads. Though there are many varieties, spearmint is preferred for cooking. You can add it to a bevy of dishes and drinks—lamb, peas, carrots, ice cream, tea, mint juleps, and mojitos. Spearmint's bright green leaves are fuzzy, very different from the darker stemmed, rounded leaves of peppermint.

See More: Fresh Mint Recipes

Rosemary

In Latin, rosemary means "dew of the sea"—appropriate since it is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic and pungent of all the herbs. Its needlelike leaves have pronounced lemon-pine flavor that pairs well with roasted lamb, garlic, and olive oil. Rosemary is also a nice addition to focaccia, tomato sauce, pizza, and pork, but because its flavor is strong, use a light hand.

See More: Cooking with Rosemary

Oregano

Oregano grows wild in the mountains of Italy and Greece; its Greek name means "joy of the mountain." The Greeks love oregano sprinkled on salads, while the Italians shower it on pizza and slip it into tomato sauces. Add chopped oregano to vinaigrette, or use it in poultry, game, or seafood dishes when you want to take them in a Greek or Italian direction. Oregano and marjoram are so similar in looks and flavor that they are often confused. Oregano, however, has a more potent taste and aroma; marjoram is sweeter and more delicate. Try it out in these Oregano Recipes.

Thyme

Thyme comes in dozens of varieties; however, most cooks use French thyme. Undoubtedly thyme is one of the most important herbs of the European kitchen. What would a bouquet garni be without it? This congenial herb pairs well with many other herbs—especially rosemary, parsley, sage, savory, and oregano. Its earthiness is welcome with pork, lamb, duck, or goose, and it's much beloved in Cajun and Creole cooking. It's also the primary component of Caribbean jerk seasonings. Because the leaves are so small, they often don't require chopping. Get started with these Fresh Thyme Recipes.

Cilantro

Some call it cilantro; others call it coriander, or even Chinese parsley. Whatever you call it, chances are you either love it or hate it. This native of southern Europe and the Middle East has a pungent flavor, with a faint undertone of anise. The leaves are often mistaken for flat-leaf parsley, so read the tag. One of the most versatile herbs, cilantro adds distinctive flavor to salsas, soups, stews, curries, salads, vegetables, fish, and chicken dishes.

See More: Cooking with Cilantro

Parsley

No refrigerator should be without parsley. It's the workhorse of the herb world and can go in just about every dish you cook. Parsley's mild, grassy flavor allows the flavors of other ingredients to come through. Curly parsley is less assertive than its brother, flat-leaf parsley (often called Italian parsley). Flat-leaf parsley is preferred for cooking, as it stands up better to heat and has more flavor, while the more decorative curly parsley is used mostly for garnishing. Reach for either when a dish needs a little burst of color. Sprinkle a little persillade, a mixture of chopped parsley and garlic, on roasted lamb, grilled steaks, fish, chicken, and vegetables as they do in France. Add lemon or orange zest and you get gremolata, a blend used in Milanese cooking, especially as a final garnish on osso buco.

See More: Cooking with Fresh Parsley

Try these recipes:
• Parsley Red Potatoes
• Seared Scallops with Parsley-Thyme Relish
• Fennel, Parsley, and Radicchio Salad with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Chives

Toss chives into a dish at the last minute, because heat destroys their delicate onion flavor. Thinly slice them to maximize their taste, or use finely snipped chives as a garnish. Chives are great in dips and quesadillas, and on baked potatoes.

See More: Cooking with Chives

Dill

Since ancient Roman times, dill has been a symbol of vitality. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to provide protection against witches and was used as an ingredient in many magic potions. In the kitchen, its feathery leaves lend a fresh, sharp flavor to all kinds of foods: gravlax, cottage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese, omelets, seafood (especially salmon), cold yogurt soups, potato salads, and all kinds of cucumber dishes (including, of course, pickles).

See More: Fresh Dill Recipes

Sage

Sage is native to the northern Mediterranean coast, where it's used frequently in cooking. Sage's long, narrow leaves have a distinctively fuzzy texture and musty flavor redolent of eucalyptus, cedar, lemon, and mint. Italians love it with veal, while the French add it to stuffings, cured meats, sausages, and pork dishes. Americans, of course, associate it with turkey and dressing. Use it with discretion; it can overwhelm a dish.

Try These Recipes

  • Sautéed Chicken with Sage Browned Butter
  • Quick Walnut-Sage Bread Knots
  • White Bean, Sage, and Sausage Soup

Tarragon

Though this herb is native to Siberia and western Asia, tarragon is primarily used in France. It's often added to white wine vinegar, lending sweet, delicate licorice-like perfume and flavor. It pairs well with fish, omelets, and chicken cooked with mustard, and it's a crucial component of béarnaise sauce. Fresh tarragon isn't always easy to find, but when you get it, you'll love the bittersweet, peppery taste it imparts. Heat diminishes its flavor, so add tarragon toward the end of cooking, or use it as a garnish. A little goes a long way.

Keeping Fresh Herbs Fresh

• Loosely wrap herbs in a damp paper towel, then seal in a zip-top plastic bag filled with air. Refrigerate for up to five days. Check herbs daily, as some of them lose their flavor after a couple of days.

• Store herbs bouquet-style when in bunches: Place, stems down, in a jar with water covering 1 inch of the stem ends, enclose in a large zip-top plastic bag, and change the water every other day. Most herbs will keep for up to a week this way.

• Many supermarkets carry herb plants in their produce sections. Snip off as much as you need, and the plant will last for weeks or even months.

• To revive limp herbs, trim 1/2 inch off the stems, and place in ice water for a couple of hours.

• Wash herbs just before using; pat dry with a paper towel.

• In most cases, heat kills the flavor of fresh herbs, so they're best when added to a dish at the end.


22 Uses for Herbs That Will Make You Want to Start a Herb Garden

Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.

You hear people constantly say, “Grow a herb garden.” Yet, it leaves you wondering why because most people don’t use enough herbs to justify growing herbs.

I grow a herb garden every year. It’s a beautiful addition to my property, and I do enjoy using herbs from time to time.

However, a few years into it, I began asking myself why I was growing a herb garden. I began researching additional uses for herbs and started making my herb garden an asset to my property instead of simply, “something you do.”

If you’re wondering what the point is behind a herb garden, here are a few reasons for using herbs and making your herb garden work for you:

1. Infused Oils

One of the first things which come to mind when growing herbs is gorgeous and fragrant oil. Whether you use them as body oils or oils to cook with, you’ll be glad you have herbs on hand to make as much as you desire.

Infused oils make wonderful DIY presents, and they look gorgeous as kitchen décor in clear bottles.

2. Like Butter?

When I go to restaurants, I love it when they bring the bread out and serve delicious herbal butter with it.

Why wait until you’re dining out? When you grow your own herbs, you can make herb butter and incorporate them into your bread recipes or place a dollop on grilled meats.

3. Herb Jellies and Syrups

When you plant certain crops, you find yourself searching for and making a variety of recipes you probably wouldn’t have thought of before planting these crops.

Herbs fall into this category. When you plant them, you suddenly realize they aren’t only for garnish. You can make herb jellies and herbal syrups too.

4. The Chickens Love Them

If you have chickens, they’ll be glad you grow herbs. My chickens enjoy munching on them as a fresh bit of greenery.

Plus, you can place them in their nesting boxes. This helps to run unwanted pests away and keep your chickens healthier.

5. Herbal Body Soap

Do you enjoy making your own soap? It’s nice to add the ingredients you like, skip the ones you don’t, and be fully in the loop as to what’s in the soap.

You can add herbs to your soap recipes for a fresh scent. There are even some soap recipes which were created with herbs in mind. Embrace your herbs and start making your own herbal soaps.

6. Herbal Décor

Making your own home décor is a big money saver, and it also allows you to decorate your home exactly as you wish.

Try using herbs to make your own wreath. It will be a gorgeous addition to your home, and it adds fresh scent wherever you hang it.

7. Wash Your Hair

Washing your hair with store-bought products can feel like an endless cycle because they strip your hair of its natural oils only to add the oils back at the end of the wash cycle.

Why not skip all the fuss and create your own hair rinse? It requires a few different herbs, but it forms a herbal vinegar which creates healthy hair naturally.

8. Smell Like Your Herbs

While you’re washing your hair in herbs, you might as well figure out how to make your own herbal perfume too.

This will allow you to smell of fresh herbs all the way around. Not to mention, you’ll know what you’re spraying on yourself.

9. Fire Starters

Your mind may not go directly to herbs when trying to figure out a great, natural fire starter. However, you should consider them.

Herb fire starters are great because they can be easily made, and they can also help keep bugs away if having a gathering around your firepit.

10. DIY Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are a necessary part of laundry because they give clothes a fresh scent while working some of the static cling out of them.

Instead of spending a fortune on dryer sheets, consider making them yourself. You can put fresh herbs in a pillowcase and seal it. Toss the pillowcase in the dryer, and you have DIY dryer sheets with herbs.

11. Herbal Dish Soap

Washing dishes isn’t my favorite thing, but it certainly beats having a dirty sink. Did you know herbs can come in handy with this chore too?

You use the herbs to infuse the homemade dish soap. It will give your dishes a lovely scent without using synthetic chemicals.

12. Bath Salts

Do you enjoy soaking in a hot bath? I didn’t know what an awesome product Epsom salt was until I started using it to soak sore muscles.

The next time you take a hot bath, try using herbs and Epsom salt both. It will help you feel and smell better naturally.

13. Herbal Medicine

Herbs are great for many things, but you may not be familiar with how they can help with common ailments.

If you find yourself suffering from inflammation or a mild headache, consider putting your medicinal herbs to the test.

14. Give Pests and Bugs the Boot

Pests and bugs don’t like many herbs. Mint is a big herb which drives away a variety of unwanted guests in or around your home.

If you have a root cellar or another area where mice and bugs tend to be drawn to, consider drying your herbs in these areas, or using herbs to make a spray where you can spritz the area with the scent of the herbs.

15. Herbs in Your Salad

Do you enjoy salad? The ingredients are easily grown, even if you don’t have much grow space. Salads are good for you too.

If you get tired of the same old traditional salads, try adding your herbs into the mix. It’ll give extra nutrients and flavor.

16. DIY Salad Dressing

Herbs aren’t only great for going in your salad. They’re great for going on your salad. Instead of sticking with your same basic dressings try mixing things up a bit.

Homemade herb dressings don’t require much time to make and can be a great way to step up the flavor of a traditional salad.

17. Cook with Herbs

We’ve all heard we should cook with herbs, but what does this mean beyond garnishing a dish? You can use herbs in a ton of creative ways.

A few ideas are incorporating them into fritters, you can use them when making a homemade tart, make delicious herb sauces, or make a tasty whole roasted herb chicken.

18. Herbal Pesto

We all know herbs make a great pesto, though basil is the common ingredient in most traditional pesto sauces.

However, you can use a variety of other herbs to make a delicious homemade pesto sauce such as cilantro, mint, and parsley.

19. Make Your Own Bouquets

Herbs are most commonly thought of in the kitchen, but they can be used in other ways outside of culinary purposes.

They make great home décor items all the way down to a flower bouquet. Add a unique scent and a gorgeous look by incorporating herbs into your fresh cut flowers.

20. Herbal Potpourri

Making your own potpourri is a great way to save money, add a touch of home to your house, and add a nice scent to your home as well.

Get outside of the box when making your own potpourri. Incorporate your herbs into the mix and see if this could be your new favorite use for a herb garden.

21. Infuse Simple Syrup

Our last stop on this fun exploration of different ways to utilize herbs from the garden is to infuse simple syrup with herbs.

You can use the syrup when sweetening cold tea, hot tea, or other recipes where you’d use traditional simple syrup. This will add a different but fresh flavor to some of your favorite recipes.

22. Herbal Teas

While speaking of sweetening teas, let’s not forget the fun of creating your own herbal teas and infusions, with the flavors and fragrances you love to experiment with.

There are over 20 different ways of using herbs fresh from the garden. You don’t have to limit yourself to cooking in order to get the best use out of them.

Instead, jump outside of the proverbial box and consider new ways to use herbs. It may surprise you, and possibly give you a whole new appreciation for fresh herbs.

To get you started, consider a vertical herb garden, an indoor herb garden, these perennial herbs for long-term value, and then enjoy all your flavorsome creations!


Basil

  • Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum
  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Soil type: Free-draining potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

Gardeners anticipate the arrival of fragrant summer basil all year long, but you can enjoy it in the off season, too. Keep this tender herb in a warm place in your home where it will get as much sunlight as possible—it needs at least eight hours each day to thrive.

When your plant is four to six inches tall, pinch back the growth tips to encourage fuller, bushier growth, then use the leaves in your favorite recipes.


Crash Course: Fresh Herbs

Whether you’re a kitchen wiz or a beginner with high hopes, fresh herbs are the ultimate “secret” weapon of cooks at all levels. The fragrance… the color… the taste!

A few minced teaspoons of earthy green goodness can add yum factor and fresh-from-the-garden pizzazz to whatever you’re cooking — from frozen pizza to scrambled eggs to steamy, creamy soups. And when you’re ready to up your game… homemade pesto!

Fresh herbs, in simple terms, are leafy, flavorful, aromatic green plants used in small amounts to flavor and garnish food — rather than to add substance (which sets them apart from veggies).

Herbs are also chock-full of concentrated nutrients and health benefits, like rich vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and natural breath-freshening properties. They’re magical recipe enhancers for so many reasons!

With 75 to 100 different herbs existing in the world, we could all use a crib sheet on how to categorize, choose, cook with, and get the most mileage out of our fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs fall into two main categories: soft herbs (you can cook and eat the stems) and woody herbs (you’ll have to pluck ’em off the inedible stems before you eat ’em). Here are 10 widely used herbs that have made names for themselves as recipe staples:

Soft, leafy herbs

  • Basil: Known for its big leaves, distinctly refreshing aroma, and sweet flavor. It’s used around the world to season Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines — from pasta sauces (like pesto) to caprese salad and Thai stir-fries.
  • Parsley: There’s flat-leaf parsley and French curly-leaf parsley, both of which boast a mild, fresh flavor. Fresh parsley is a solid fridge staple because it’s inexpensive and can be added to almost any dish. Try stirring it into tomato sauce, sprinkling it on tilapia, or chopping the flavor-packed stems and adding them to chorizo for extra oomph.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro is the Spanish name for coriander (which is the dry seeds of the plant). Its citrusy flavor profile makes it a popular addition to guacamole, salsa, and soups. Cilantro is a polarizing herb, since some people carry a gene that makes it taste like soap.
  • Tarragon: Tarragon has skinny leaves that are quite pungent and flavorful (it has a licorice-like taste). French dishes rely heavily on this herb — chicken tarragon, specifically, is delicious and tastes fancy without too much effort.
  • Mint: New gardeners, apply here: This highly aromatic herb grows easily and in bounty. Mint has a distinct and invigorating flavor that makes a welcome addition to both sweet and savory dishes and teas.

Woody, hardy herbs

  • Rosemary: Rosemary is an evergreen herb that smells and tastes like Christmas. Its robust flavors make it a great addition to roast chicken and even cocktails like winter sangria (as long as you’re too not heavy-handed!).
  • Thyme: Another fragrant herb with slight floral notes. Thyme is great for adding to recipes early on because it can handle long cooking times, which also helps mellow out its overpowering flavor. Use it in chicken stock or braised lamb.
  • Oregano: Fresh oregano gives you the best of both worlds — its flavors are earthy yet bright, with slight peppery notes (when the leaves also hold their shape well). Chop some up and bake it into fresh dinner rolls, add it to your turkey burger mixture, or sprinkle it over a savory cantaloupe salad with balsamic reduction.
  • Chives: A close cousin of scallions and onions, chives have long, green, hollow stems and a not-too-overwhelming oniony flavor. They’re great to add to dips, soups, and potato salad (for both taste and a pretty garnish).
  • Sage: Sage has a very strong scent and an earthy flavor that softens when the herb is cooked or even fried. This herb is great for enhancing the flavors in Thanksgiving stuffing, roast pork, and butternut squash.

In an ideal world, you’d always have a stash of fresh herbs on hand to concoct your favorite recipes. But IRL, most of us don’t have a sprawling backyard garden and don’t always remember to grab fresh mint on our supermarket run.

In that case, you may be wondering: Can you replace a fresh herb with its dried version (and vice versa), and how do you do it without ruining dinner?

For starters, dried herbs are much more concentrated and stronger in flavor than fresh herbs. So if you’re swapping fresh for dried, you’ll need to use less. As a general rule, use one-third as much of a dried herb as you would of a fresh herb (e.g., 1 teaspoon dried for every 1 tablespoon fresh) to ensure you don’t accidentally turn your meal into an overly herbaceous blast to the mouth.

In a few cases, substituting won’t give you the same result — with herbs like tarragon and cilantro, the fresh and dried versions have two completely different flavors.

Another loose rule: Dried herbs can stand up to heat better than most fresh herbs, so it’s best to add them while you’re cooking. Fresh herbs should be added later on or as a dish finisher, to help maintain their flavors and textures.

Forgot to buy the tarragon for your recipe, but running back out to the store isn’t on the menu? Luckily, you may already have a perfect substitute on hand with a similar flavor profile.

When swapping herbs, start with less and make sure you like the taste (you can always add more to adjust, but you can’t remove!).

When chopping fresh herbs, less is more — you never want to chop herbs more than once or twice through. Even with a sharp knife, over-butchering soft herbs can lead to ugly brown bruising and cause the leaves to lose their natural oils. With woody herbs, you’ll want to remove the leaves/needles from their stems and then mince ’em in a pile.

Before chopping soft or hardy herbs, ensure they’re washed and completely dry to prevent them from turning to green mush under your knife.

If you’re not growing your own garden (read on for the DIY deets), you’ll want to get the most mileage out of your store-bought fresh herbs. They don’t exactly run cheap, and it’s painful to splurge on the jumbo bunch of dill when all you need is a sprig. We’ve got a few tips to help you waste not, want not.

For starters, properly prepping and storing your herbs will help prevent them from getting wilted, slimy, or moldy while they sit in your fridge.

Whether you snagged a bunch of soft basil or woody rosemary, all fresh herbs like to have a little water on them. As soon as you get home from the store, give them a quick rinse under cold water and a run through a salad spinner — this will help remove rogue debris and germs that can cause mold.

To store soft herbs, start by removing any browned leaves. Fill a glass jar with some water, place the herbs in the jar like a flower bouquet, and then gently cover them with a small plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator (except for basil, which should be placed uncovered on your counter, near a window to get some sunlight).

To store woody herbs, arrange them on a slightly damp paper towel, loosely roll up the towel, and put it in a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic to let the herbs breathe, and then place them in the refrigerator.

If you use proper storing techniques, fresh herbs can last a few weeks. You’ll know it’s time to toss them when the leaves turn dark and/or the stems become brittle.

Another longer-term option: Chop herbs and pop them into an ice cube tray to freeze for later use. You can even freeze them in olive oil for use in sautés or roasted dishes.

Not everyone has easy access to fresh herbs on the regular, especially if you live in a remote area or a food desert. Happily, growing herbs is easy, inexpensive, and something you can do in any size space.

Starter kits are readily available (typically for 30 bucks or less) and generally foolproof.

You definitely don’t need any extra gear to embrace herbs, but for the gadget lovers of the world, here are few inexpensive and handy extras that can make cutting and storing herbs easier:

Now that you’re up on fresh herbs, time to get cookin’… or actually, not cooking. Here are a few of our all-time favorite ways to use herbs that require *zero* stove time:


Stop Throwing Out Cilantro Stems: Use Them in These Recipes Instead

Wondering how to use cilantro stems? We have some great ideas.

Using fresh herbs to the last leaf is a worthy (and delicious) endeavor, but we tend to forget about the stalks. Some herbs have woody stems that aren’t edible (though rosemary and thyme, for instance, can still be used to infuse liquids and strained out later).

Cilantro stems, on the other hand, are crisp and tender, and taste just as good as the leafy greens. “The crunch and punch is a really nice contrast,” says Chowhound eight_inch_pestle.

OXO Green Saver Herb Keeper, $15 from Sur La Table

Keep all your herbs fresher longer.

How to Use Cilantro Stems

Chowhound grayelf had a revelation when eating banh mi “where cilantro is chucked in by the handful on the stem. Now I put the stems in whenever I think I can get away with it for the extra crunch and flavour.”

Try slipping them into these sandwiches:

Mix them into salad too, or wrap them up along with other herbs in summer rolls:

Cilantro roots do have more intense flavor than the leaves, “which is why they are favored in bold Southeast Asian curry pastes and marinades,” says JungMann. Cilantro with roots attached can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets and at Southeast Asian markets. “Every time I get a bunch with roots I cut ’em off and freeze ’em till I have enough for a recipe,” says grayelf.

Use them in an easy three-ingredient Thai meat marinade, or make garlicky gai yang, the best Thai BBQ chicken you’ll ever grill. If you can’t find cilantro roots, use the stems and leaves together in their place (we call for stems in the marinade for our Turmeric Chicken Skewer recipe, shown above, while the leaves go into the coconut dipping sauce).

You can also blitz up a cilantro pesto using both stems and leaves it’s great on sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more.


Essential Herbs & Spices

▶︎ Herbs

1. Parsley

Parsley is a great herb for everyday use! It adds color and a tangy, slightly peppery flavor that complements other flavors.

2. Sage

Sage has a distinctive flavor that brings breakfast sausages to mind. Its musky flavor pairs well with apples and onions and as a seasoning for poultry and pork.

3. Rosemary

Aromatic rosemary often has a pine-y quality to it. It goes well with poultry, lamb, and pork, and pairs well with other herbs like type, parsley, and oregano.

4. Thyme

As far as herbs go, thyme has an earthier flavor and aroma than most. Its warm and camphorous flavor (sharp, cooling, slightly woody) pairs well with rosemary, especially for seasoning poultry or lamb.

5. Basil

For most Italian dishes and many Asian dishes too, you can’t go wrong with the complex sweetness of basil. It’s perfect for seasoning vegetables, pastas, pizzas, cheeses, tomatoes, and more.

6. Oregano

Oregano is also at home in most Italian dishes, and many Mexican dishes too. It has a warm, slightly bitter flavor that adds savoriness and a slight kick to a dish.

7. Bay Leaves

These aromatic leaves have a woodsy aroma and flavor profile. Just one or two leaves will add complexity, richness, and depth of flavor to soups, stews, and braised meats.

8. Italian Seasoning

A good Italian seasoning blend combines several classic Italian herbs, like basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Use this blend to season pasta dishes, pizzas, and poultry. Make your own homemade Italian seasoning blend!

It's been a long winter of eating too much "comfort food" and I have been making a serious effort to eat healthier the last few weeks. I once heard a . Continue Reading

▶︎ Spices

9. Onion Powder

Powered onion makes it easy to incorporate the flavor of onions in situations where you wouldn’t necessary want to use a real onion. Use it in rubs, dressings, marinades, and more.

10. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is useful for all the same reasons as onion powder, and many homemade spice blends use both!

11. Curry Powder

This popular spice blend is typically made up of turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and other seasonings often found in Indian cuisine. Its earthy flavor adds complexity and richness to savory dishes.

12. Mustard

Ground mustard adds a tangy kick to sauces and rubs without adding too much heat.

13. Cumin

Cumin is often used in Mexican recipes, adding a warm and smoky quality to stewed beans and meats. It can easily dominate other flavors, so use sparingly.

▶︎ Baking Spices

14. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is sweet, warm, and woodsy, and it’s a staple in many baking recipes. It’s versatile enough to work well in savory applications too.

15. Cloves

Cloves have an assertive aroma that’s both peppery and camphorous, fruity and hot. A little bit goes a long way!

16. Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a warm, sweet aroma, and adds depth and complexity to baked goods and creamy concoctions of all sorts. Pairs well with other baking spices, as well as cardamom, ginger, and mace.

17. Ginger

Ginger is an essential flavor profile in many Asian cuisines, lending its characteristic peppery and pungent taste. Complements dried fruits, nuts, and other baking spices.

▶︎ Hot Spices

18. Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes make it easy to add a spicy kick to any dish without changing the overall flavor profile or adding additional moisture. You can incorporate them early in the cooking process, or sprinkle some on top as a garnish before serving.

19. Paprika

The flavor and aroma of paprika can vary widely, from warm and delicate to hot and smoky. It’s great on most meats, vegetables, and legumes.

20. Cayenne

Cayenne is the most common ground chili worldwide, beloved for its slightly smoky flavor and heat-boosting abilities. It’s a staple in many chili powders, curry powders, jerk seasonings, and other spice blends.

21. Chili Powder

Chili powder is typically just a blend of popular spices used in Latin-American cooking, like ground ancho chilis, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Great in chili, enchiladas, and many other recipes.

Use Rice To Learn Your Spices!

  • To deepen your understanding of the spices and seasonings in your cupboards, start serving plain rice as a side dish as often as possible.
  • Every time you serve yourself a scoop of rice, sprinkle a small amount of a new spice or seasoning over the top.
  • Tasting unfamiliar spices on rice will teach you more about their flavor than any written description ever could, and in time, this practice will make you a veritable spice expert!

Which spices or seasonings do you use most frequently when you cook?

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I've been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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Some useful tips

Buying and storing

  • Light and heat are the enemies of dried herbs and spices, so don’t keep them in a rack near the stove. A plastic box is ideal – stick a label on each jar lid, so it’s easy to read from above.
  • We like Seasoned Pioneers, which packages herbs and spices in resealable foil sachets – they last for ages.
  • If you’re looking for something special, steenbergs.co.uk offers a global range of largely organic herbs and spices. Its website is packed with know-how and recipes inspiration.
  • Specialist and wholesale shops offer giant packs at low prices, but for the average household it’s wiser to buy in small quantities more often.
  • The Bart range (bart-ingredients.co.uk) has jars with flip lids, allowing you to spoon or sprinkle.

Getting the best form your herbs

  • In a recipe, 1 tsp dried herbs equals 1 tbsp fresh. In general, use 1/4 – 1/2 of dried herbs per serving.
  • To release flavour, dried herbs are best rehydrated. Add either at the beginning of cooking, or about 20 minutes before the end. Try mixing herbs with 1 tsp of oil and leaving for 10-15 minutes before using in dressings, marinages or sauces. Instead of sprinkling dried oregano on a pizza, steep in a little oil and use as a drizzle.
  • Dried herbs are a useful way to cut down on salt. Where possible, add them during cooking rather than sprinkling on top.

Dry your own

  • Put sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint or marjoram leaves in a single layer between sheets of kitchen paper and microwave on high for 1-2 mins until brittle.
  • If you have a bay tree, use the leaves fresh, or air-fry by hanging stems in an airy place, then picking off leaves to store in a tin or jar.

Stop Throwing Out Cilantro Stems: Use Them in These Recipes Instead

Wondering how to use cilantro stems? We have some great ideas.

Using fresh herbs to the last leaf is a worthy (and delicious) endeavor, but we tend to forget about the stalks. Some herbs have woody stems that aren’t edible (though rosemary and thyme, for instance, can still be used to infuse liquids and strained out later).

Cilantro stems, on the other hand, are crisp and tender, and taste just as good as the leafy greens. “The crunch and punch is a really nice contrast,” says Chowhound eight_inch_pestle.

OXO Green Saver Herb Keeper, $15 from Sur La Table

Keep all your herbs fresher longer.

How to Use Cilantro Stems

Chowhound grayelf had a revelation when eating banh mi “where cilantro is chucked in by the handful on the stem. Now I put the stems in whenever I think I can get away with it for the extra crunch and flavour.”

Try slipping them into these sandwiches:

Mix them into salad too, or wrap them up along with other herbs in summer rolls:

Cilantro roots do have more intense flavor than the leaves, “which is why they are favored in bold Southeast Asian curry pastes and marinades,” says JungMann. Cilantro with roots attached can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets and at Southeast Asian markets. “Every time I get a bunch with roots I cut ’em off and freeze ’em till I have enough for a recipe,” says grayelf.

Use them in an easy three-ingredient Thai meat marinade, or make garlicky gai yang, the best Thai BBQ chicken you’ll ever grill. If you can’t find cilantro roots, use the stems and leaves together in their place (we call for stems in the marinade for our Turmeric Chicken Skewer recipe, shown above, while the leaves go into the coconut dipping sauce).

You can also blitz up a cilantro pesto using both stems and leaves it’s great on sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more.


Marjoram

Shutterstock

Price: $2.50/bunch

Health Benefits: Sweet marjoram, a member of the oregano family, contains a fair share of the mineral magnesium, which has been associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors. Regularly consuming the nutrient may also ward off osteoporosis and high blood pressure, according to University of Maryland Medical Center experts.

Use It In: Beef and chicken dishes, sausages, cheese and tomato dishes, soups, and egg dishes.

Price: $1.99/bunch

Health Benefits: Not only can the herb aid digestion, mint infused water is a home remedy for curing hiccups. It's also a powerful weight loss weapon. It works by stimulating the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into usable energy. For more must-know benefits of mint, don't miss these 10 Surprising Things Mint Does to Your Body.

Use It In: From beverages and salads to main dishes to desserts, there are a million ways to use fragrant mint. To make the yummy, feta-topped salad shown above check out these 25 Watermelon Recipes You'll Crave,


11 Golden Rules of Cooking That Everyone Should Know

If you’re just starting out or are used to following a recipe, cooking sans instructions can seem like a daunting task. But honestly, once you get a few basic cooking rules down, you’ll be able to toss most of your recipe books in the recycling bin and start creating Michelin-worthy meals of your very own. Seriously &mdash unlike baking, cooking does not require exact measurements, times or temperatures for food to taste good. Follow the easy rules below and try whipping up your next meal using nothing but your imagination and taste buds.

Season and taste your food as you cook

When it comes to making food as flavorful as possible, salt is your friend. By adding a little bit of salt to both sweet and savory recipes as you cook, you’ll bring out the flavors already in the food, making for a tastier end product. In sweet recipes, add a pinch of salt to batters, doughs, and frostings to add richness to the sweet flavors. In savory recipes, add a pinch of salt every time you add new ingredients&mdashfor example, add salt to vegetables as they’re sautéing, then a few pinches more salt when you add meat, then another pinch when you add sauce&mdashso that your recipe comes out well-rounded and balanced. This method will also prevent oversalting food at the end of the cooking process.

Don’t crowd the pan

If you’re sautéing, pan-frying, or roasting, it’s important not to crowd the pan. You want to end up with a texture that’s cooked on the inside and slightly browned on the outside, and a too-crowded pan will make browning impossible because it creates too much steam (think about the difference between perfectly browned mushrooms, and soggy grey ones). Whether you’re using a sheet pan or a skillet, make sure everything is spread out into a single layer, instead of being piled up. If you don’t have enough room, cook in batches or use several pans.

Keep your knives sharp

It might seem counterintuitive, but you’re actually less likely to cut yourself with a sharp knife than with a dull one. The logic? Sharp blades cut more easily so you don’t need to apply as much pressure, and food is less likely to slip around in your fingers. You can sharpen your own knives with a whetstone at home, but if you don’t want to deal with the headache, kitchen stores like Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma have knife-sharpening services. It also speeds up the cooking process and who doesn’t like getting dinner on the table quicker?

Always add garlic at the end

Garlic can burn within 20 seconds (or less depending on how hot your pan is). If garlic burns, it’ll taste bitter and the aromatic flavor you wanted will be gone. If you want to add garlic to a dish, make sure to add it toward the end to avoid burning it.

Add dried herbs at the beginning, add fresh herbs at the end

It takes a while for the full flavor of dried herbs to develop so you always want to add those at the beginning of your cooking process so they have time to infuse their flavors into your dish. On the other hand, adding fresh herbs to a dish while it’s still cooking can cause them to taste bitter or can cook the taste right out of them so it’s best to add fresh herbs after the cooking process is complete.

Prep all of your ingredients before you cook

Once you’ve got a general idea of what you’re going to cook (or you’ve read a recipe), the next step is to prep, measure, and chop all of your ingredients. Keep things in separate bowls, cups, or piles on your cutting board, then add them as called for to the recipe as you cook. Having everything ready to go means you can cook seamlessly, without having to stop (and risk burning things) and chop or measure midway through.

Use enough fat

Although the low-fat craze is officially over, many people are still afraid to add enough fat to their home cooking. The thing is, fat serves a couple of culinary purposes. First of all, a good layer of fat in a sauté pan will keep food from sticking and burning, as will coating food with fat before you roast it. Second, fat will help bring out flavor. For high-heat cooking like sautéing, grilling, and roasting, choose fats with high smoke points, like vegetable and soy oils&mdashif you’re cooking at lower temperatures, or looking to finish a salad or a sauce with a bit of fat, try butter or fancy olive oil.

Learn a few easy sauces, and then tweak them

You’ve probably heard of the five mother sauces of classical cuisine &mdash béchamel, velouté, Espagnole, sauce tomat and hollandaise. Don’t worry, there’s no need to spend hours slaving over the perfect hollandaise but it would be worthwhile to get the hang of a classic béchamel (a roux mixed with dairy), sauce tomat (a traditional tomato sauce) and Espagnole. Each of these can be customized to accompany hundreds of dishes. Check out this handy guide to making all five of the mother sauces.

Keep your counters as clear as possible

It may seem normal and smart to keep all of your kitchen appliances&mdashblender, food processor, slow-cooker, stand mixer&mdashright on the counter, but it actually makes it much harder for you to cook effectively. These things take away from potential prep space, and when you’re working in cramped quarters, your food quality might suffer. If you use an appliance every day (think: toaster or coffee pot), it might be worth keeping it on the counter. If not, find cabinet or shelf space for it elsewhere, and only take it out when you’re using it.

Don’t go crazy with heat

OK, I know we said the cooking temperature wasn’t as important as baking temperature, but you do want to pay attention to it. When it comes to perfectly cooked food, heat control is definitely important but doesn’t need to be exact. Sure, blasting the heat under your skillet or in the oven might make food cook faster, but it will also likely lead to burnt outsides and raw insides. If you’re searing meat, start with a scorching hot pan and then reduce the heat to medium to finish cooking. If you’re sautéing more fragile ingredients like vegetables, start with a medium heat and gently increase the heat if necessary. Make sure to keep the heat at a temperature where ingredients are cooking and not burning, and never turn the heat so high that you see smoke (except for searing meat of course).


How to Cook Spaghetti Sauce With Fresh Herbs

You can make a delicious spaghetti sauce with dried herbs, but cooking with fresh herbs gives the sauce a flavor as fresh as the herbs you add. One highly tasteful and fragrant herb commonly added to spaghetti sauce is sweet basil. Oregano is another herb with a powerful flavor and smell. Parsley, though not fragrant, is a delicious herb no spaghetti sauce should be without. Although you may be tempted to add fresh herbs to the spaghetti sauce when you add the tomatoes, for ultimate flavor, wait until the sauce is almost done before adding the herbs.


Watch the video: Πολυκόμπι - Εκουϊζέτο (July 2022).


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