There are a lot of reasons to celebrate summer and summertime activities, including growing your own herbs. Herbs will add the ultimate decorative touch both to your vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Not to mention the balcony or deck, where herbs are perfectly suited to container growing. Distinctive aromas will fill the air wherever you decide to grow your herbs. From garden to dining room: freshly picked herbs incorporated into your cooking will delight the senses and facilitate an extraordinary culinary experience!
Growing: Dill is easy to maintain, adores the sun, and thrives in light and well-drained soil. Plants can grow to a height of 1 metre. Cut leaves before the plants flower. You can incorporate dill directly into your fresh salads, use it in marinades, or dry the leaves for use at a later date.
Storing: When fresh, dill can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag. To collect dried seeds, harvest the plants when the seeds are brown and ripe, then hang the plants upside down over a bowl. Use the seeds for seasoning.
Recipes: With its delicate flavour, dill is often paired with fish. An excellent aromatic for meat, fish, and soups, dill should be added at the end of cooking to maximize flavour. It pairs well with cream-based dishes. In salads, it combines perfectly with cucumbers and apples.
Properties: Dill has many medicinal properties; it is an aid to digestion and stimulates the function of the intestines. Brewed, it also has sedative properties. It is rich in iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Growing: Basil can be grown just about anywhere: in containers, window boxes, in flowerbeds among your annuals and perennials, and both inside and out. Basil plants thrive in warm conditions and prefer sunny, sheltered locations. Pinch off the stems above the bottom couple of leaves to promote growth and always remove white spikes when they appear.
Storing: To keep fresh basil for a few days, place the stems in a glass of water or wrap the stems in a damp paper towel and put in a plastic bag and into the fridge. For longer-term storage, the best method is to make a puree with olive oil. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Recipes: Basil is a wonderful compliment to soups as well as pasta, tomato and vegetable dishes. It is used to make fresh pesto with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. As with many herbs, add basil at the end of cooking.
Properties: Basil is known to work as a sedative and help relieve anxiety. It also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, and it can be used to prevent nausea and vomiting.
Growing: Also known as star flower, borage is a beautiful plant with small blue flowers. If allowed to bloom and set seed, it will naturally self-seed. It thrives in sunny locations and poor soil conditions. Stems grow to 30 - 60cm.
Storing: Place unwashed stems in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. You can freeze stems and/or leaves laid out flat or freeze finely chopped leaves mixed with water.
Recipes: The whole plant can be used in cooking. Both young leaves and flowers provide a delicious compliment to salads. Cook large leaves as you would spinach in a double-boiler. Add to soups. It gives salads and drinks a delectably fresh cucumber taste.
Properties: Nothing can be better thanan infusion of borage leaves and flowers to calm a cough and act as an expectorant. Since it is a diuretic and laxative, take care not to over-consume.
Cari - Curry Plant
Growing: This is a very scented, flavoursome aromatic plant that prefers sunny locations with rich and moist soil. Its silvery leaves are slightly downy.
Storing: Pick leaves when you want to use them. You can dry flowered stems by hanging bouquets in a dark room.
Recipes: Its curry fragrance enhances the flavour of a host of dishes; remove the sprigs before serving. Finely chopped, curry leaves season omelets to perfection and can be added to vinaigrettes. Add at the end of cooking to fish or sprinkle a few leaves on the pork roast.
Properties: Planted in flowerbeds, curry plants will repel insects. Curry improves circulation and respiratory problems.
Growing: The chervil plant, which can reach a height of 30 to 70cm, resembles a parsley plant, but the taste is closer to tarragon. It requires plenty of sun and regular watering. If left to flower, it loses much of its flavour.
Storing: Use leaves quickly before they begin to yellow. Although it is possible to dry chervil, you should know that it will lose most of its flavour. A better option would be to freeze leaves directly after cutting and cleaning.
Recipes: Its anise-flavoured leaves compliment cream-based soups, salads, smoked fish and buttered sauces.
Properties: Chervil is extremely rich in iron and calcium and helps prevent anemia from developing. It is also a significant source of vitamin C.
Growing: Like many aromatic plants, cilantro prefers direct sunlight and soil that is rich in humus nutrients and with good drainage. Plants can reach a height of 1 metre. Because plants tend to go to seed quite quickly, you should replant at regular intervals, though avoid seeding close to fennel.
Storing: Cut and use as needed. Keep a few stems in water on hand for easy and quick access. Your easiest storage option is to cut and wash leaves then freeze.
Recipes: Highly-valued in Asian and Mexican cuisine, the fresh taste of cilantro boosts the flavour of salads, soups and slow-cooked dishes using the leaves, or couscous, rice, and fish using the seeds. Stems are edible. Leaves should be finely chopped and added at the end of cooking.
Properties: Cilantrohas a calming effect on digestion and helps reduce bloating. When consumed fresh, it helps relieve nausea.
Growing: This plant can be grown both indoors and outside, in containers, or in the garden. It grows best in soil that is rich in nutrients, with some sunlight but not too hot. Plants can grow to 30 cm.
Storing: Parsley is best eaten fresh; use scissors to cut it. You can keep a bouquet of parsley for several days in a glass of water. You can also wrap the stems with a damp paper towel, then place in a plastic bag in the fridge, which should keep the parsley fresh up to a week.
Recipes: Curly or Italian, parsley is a must in salads, omelets, sauces, soups, pasta dishes, on potatoes and grilled meats. You'll find parsley in tabouli and pesto. Blend parsley, garlic, olive oil and rough salt to make a spread for fresh bread.
Properties: Parsley is very rich in vitamin A and C. And, it helps reduce bad breath.
Growing: Rosemary plants are small bushes that prefer full sun with dry and well-drained conditions. Plants thrive in flowerbeds and can grow to 2 metres, although they should be pruned after flowering. Don't water the shoots.
Storing: Cut rosemary stems as you need them. As opposed to other herbs, the drying process enhances the scent of rosemary.
Recipes: The unique flavour is a classic compliment for lamb and pork. Rosemary is often used with potatoes, on pizzas and in jellies. Try adding rosemary to your recipe for sharp cheddar scones: delicious! Use sparingly: a little goes a long way. Perfect for the BBQ.
Properties: Rosemary is considered to be an excellent stimulant, used as a tonic to improve circulation and gall bladder function. It has antioxidant properties.
Other annual aromatic plants you should know about
Colorful, delicious, tasty ... Other herbs have it all and deserve to be known. Because they are easy to grow, why not use it? They will enhance your dishes throughout the season and well preserved, provide a summer touch to your kitchen for a long time.
- Red fennel - Very decorative, red fennel works wonders with meat and fish dishes. As an infusion, it is very effective in relieving nausea and aiding digestion.
- Scented geraniums - A sensual delight in any garden! Varieties are categorized by their scent: rose-scented 'Grey Lady Plymouth,'lemon and ginger-scented Torento Ginger, mandarine-scented Prince of Orange, and mint chocolate-scented Chocolate Peppermint. Scented geraniums are true champions when it comes to repelling insects, but they can also be used in infusions to add flavour to vinaigrettes, jams and creams, and even some pastries.
- Bay leaf - Slow-cooking dishes always benefit from the addition of a few bay leaves!
- Marjoram - Its delicate flavour is a wonderful compliment for duck, goose, and dried bean dishes.
- Stevia - Its surprisingly sweet taste means it can be used as a sugar substitute. Reduce the leaves to a powder and use in drinks, desserts, and jams.
- Indian verbena, or lemongrass - With its strong lemony flavour, it packs a flavour punch in salads, meat and fish dishes. Drinking a lemongrass infusion will help you with digestion and relieve headache symptoms.