Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. . . Remember the traditional English folk song?
MAGICAL, MYSTICAL MEANING
Much magic and mystery have been associated with herbs. In the medieval language of flowers, sage means domestic virtue. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Chamomile represents patience, and parsley is an expression of gratitude.
HERBS IN BITES AND SIPS
Herbs are not new to the scene, but if you haven’t put them in your food and beverages yet, don’t miss out. Not just a pretty garnish, herbs are nutritious, delicious, and give your dishes pungent punch.
VERSATILE AND BEAUTIFUL
Spring is the perfect time to have an herb garden, indoors or out. Get them growing! Then, harvest your herbs and add them to your food and drinks. Herbs have many uses, and this is a perfect time to grow your own. Share them with your loved ones in a bouquet or decorate a gift with a sprig of fresh rosemary or lavender.
TIPS FOR GROWING HERBS
- Use a potting mix formulated for containers, not “garden soil.”
- Make sure herbs get enough sun and stay hydrated.
- Mulching around herbs in your outdoor garden eliminates weeds and keeps soil moisturized.
- Basil is a good basic beginner herb. Remember to trim basil from the top and trim before flowers bloom.
- Mint grows like crazy, so watch out!
- Companion planting is a good idea. Love salsa? Try growing cilantro with your tomatoes and hot peppers and your dish is ready to be made.
TIPS FOR HARVESTING HERBS
The best time to pick herbs is mid-morning when the dew has dried. Remove wilted or dead pieces. If you rinse them, be sure to pat dry.
After harvesting herbs, you may want to air dry or oven dry them and store for future use. Some herbs such as oregano, marjoram, dill, and rosemary are best air dried, whereas others such as chives, mint, and basil do better being dried via the oven or dehydrator.
To air dry, bundle herbs together in small batches and secure with a rubber band or string. Hang them up, suspended in the air, and allow to dry several days to a week.
To oven dry, place herbs on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-4 hours. Herbs that are sufficiently dried will become crumbly in consistency.
Store dried herbs in airtight containers. They are typically good for around a year or so.
USING YOUR HARVESTED HERBS
Our family has always enjoyed growing, harvesting, and then cooking or baking with herbs. Here is one of my fav recipes for an herby dipping sauce we enjoy with an assortment of fresh herbs from our garden.
HERB-ILICIOUS HORS D’OEUVRES
1 bottle EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 bottle balsamic vinegar
1 bundle of a variety of fresh herbs
2 teaspoons grated dry cheese
A few dashes of ground black pepper
A couple pieces of your fav bread
Collect a medley of your fav fresh herbs (e.g. chives, thyme, oregano, and basil), rinse well, pat dry, and rough chop them. Drizzle some EVOO in a shallow bowl followed by balsamic vinegar. Soak herbs in the oil and vinegar mixture. Add ground black pepper and grated dry cheese (e.g., Parmesan, Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) over top. Break out the crusty bread, dip in the savory herb mixture and delve into deliciousness with every bite.
SOOTHING HERBAL TEA
Pop a few sprigs of peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, chamomile, or lavender (or a combination) into a mug, pour boiling water over it and let steep a few minutes. Then, sip and savor.
LOOKIN’ LOVELY LICORICE-LIKE TONER
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ lemon, juiced
2 fennel bulbs, pureed
¼ – ½ cup water
Boil fennel and thyme in a saucepan until liquefied. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and let cool. For a refreshing experience that de-puffs your under eyes, apply once or twice a day to face and neck after cleansing. No need to rinse. Keep in your fridge for up to 10 days and look and feel lovely.