I have a friend. His name is Herb.

I love herbs.  All kind of herbs.  Just smelling fresh herbs brings back memories of summers in my mom’s garden and my brother and I sitting on the hot ground, each chewing on a stem of chive that we ‘snuck’.

Back in our healthy meat eating days, we had a lot of chicken, broccoli and cous cous.  We rarely used fresh herbs- and very very rarely got creative with food.  Now, I’m learning how much fun it is to be in the kitchen and am really enjoying the use of fresh herbs.  My folks got us an indoor grow garden a few years ago- and we can buy all kinds of herb kits to put in there- so that’s a blast.  I will also sometimes get the packs of fresh herbs from the produce section of the store.  And, sometimes when I’m home- I’ll stock up on baggie fulls from my mom’s giant herb garden.  I also use dried herbs in some recipes (just make sure to remember that even dried herbs expire- make sure you use them within a year for full freashness).

Now- up until lately- I’ve been a real novice with herbs.  I use only my favorites and only dried or fresh- and then when the fresh start to wither- I’ve tossed them.  What a waste.  Now, thanks to my MOM and Google- I’m learning what to do with them to make them last longer and be able to really get the most out of my indoor garden by being able to grow back to back (reminder to self- I need to order a new grow bulb, vitamins, and some new herb kits: That thing gets used very frequently)- as well as ideas of what each one tastes like or adds to a dish without having to smell it or taste it.

*tip- we use the AeroGarden and love it.  Check it out HERE.  We have learned that they grow best with a new bulb every 6 months or so.  Also- best not to use half of one kit and half of another…  Tomatoes and Herbs don’t do great together.  Once we have our future place with room to grow- I would love to have two or more of these- or even set up my own corner of an indoor grow garden…

 

FREEZING FRESH HERBS:

I like to freeze my herbs.  It’s simple and then when you are making soup or chili or anything really- you can drop the ice cube into the mix and after it melts- you will have fresh herbs in your dish.  They even taste like they were just cut.  All you have to do is cut them up, put them into ice cube trays (my ice cube trays actually have markings to show what herbs go where), add enough water to make an ‘ice cube’ and freeze!

Chopping up Herbs

Into the trays

Cubes in the freezer- next to my sliced cucumber

 

AIR DRYING FRESH HERBS:

Again- very easy.  Have you ever dried flowers by hanging them upside down?  This is what I do to save roses- I still have a rose from my first Valentine’s day with Rick- almost 6 years ago, one from my best friends wedding, one from my grandfather’s funeral, and most of the bouquet from when Rick proposed last August.  I’m off subject :).  But if you ever want to save flowers (roses work best)- it is the same process.

You just cut the herbs at the stem, remove any dry or diseased leaves, and hang them upside down with a string.  Make the not tight- the stem will shrink as it dries.  Check every few days- and take them down when they are dry (can crumble in your hands).  Then store them in an air tight container.  I use magnetic herb/seasoning containers from World Market.  These will last for a year.

 

*tip- Basil, parsley, cilantro and chives loose flavor when air drying- so try to freeze these instead

 

HERBS I LOVE:

Parsley- can be used in just about anything- including decorations

Basil-Great in Mediterranean foods, salads & pasta

Oregano-good in Italian & Mediterranean food, pastas

Rosemary-soup & roasted veggies & breads & deserts (I like on roasted sweet potatoes and in mashed taters :))

Thyme-Very good in breads and sauces

Cilantro- use in small doses, good in latin foods, salsas, & soup (dried and crumbled into a powder- makes corriander)

Turmeric-good in South Asian & Middle Eastern dishes

Tarragon-good for sauces and such- I added it to ketchup once.  YUM.

Sage-Great in Italian dishes, sauces, ‘cheese’

Dill-dips, mashed potatoes, soup, with vegetables- and I really want to try a dill foccacia bread soon.

Chives- baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, soup, spreads

Lavendar-bread, sauces, soup, roasted veggies, deserts (can use instead of Rosemary)

Mint- drinks & tea, deserts (chocolate mint syrup, cookies, etc), salads