Growing your own and using fresh herbs in your cooking can be so rewarding and can save you a ton of money! The flavor profiles you can achieve using just hints of them, or in some cases handfuls are endless. Fresh herbs can give you beautiful subtle flavors, other times you can have a dish that is marvelously herb-centric.
I recently planted my new herb garden for the season, and I'm going to share with you some of my favorite herbs and their uses. These are just a selection of my favorites, I encourage you to experiment and see what you like and what grows best for you.
One of the staples of most kitchens, is fairly simple to grow. It needs sunlight 6-8 hours a day, and it likes moist soil.
There are several different kinds of basil, and I grow 3 of them a year. Sweet basil is the most common, and the one I grow indoors throughout the winter.
Whether you're making a simple tomato sauce or using it to make a caprese salad, this beautiful herb is so useful!
Making a mojito will never taste better then using fresh mint from your herb garden!
This hardy plant grows best in partial shade, and likes moist soil.
These gorgeous leaves pack so much flavor. Like basil, they come in a variety of kinds. Mint is a bit aggressive, and likes to overgrow, so I like to keep it in a pot and can move it inside in the winter.
You can use this versatile herb in so many ways, it goes well in sweet and savory applications. Also, I just like to have it around because it smells so good!
This neat herb is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and its translation from Latin means, "dew of the sea," which is appropriate.
One of the most aromatic herbs, it's best used with a light hand and pairs well with red meats and the acidity in tomatoes. These leaves have a strong lemon-pine flavor.
Rosemary should be planted in full sun and the soil kept moist. Be sure to prune regularly, so it doesn't overgrow. I like to keep rosemary in a longer box so the root system has room to spread.
Originally wild growing in the mountains of Italy and Greece, the name translates to "joy of the mountain" in Greek.
It enjoys full sun, and shouldn't be overwatered. It only needs to be watered when the soil is dry to the touch. Oregano has a potent taste and aroma which goes well chopped in salads, used in vinaigrettes or paired with poultry or wild game.
I grow it at the end of a large planting box and make sure to trim it frequently, so it doesn't take over.
This earthy herb is one of the essentials in a European kitchen. Part of the staple in French cooking, the bouquet garni.
Thyme comes in several varieties and likes full sun with an even amount of water, grown in well-draining soil. It pairs well with other herbs as well as pork, lamb and duck, among many other applications.
I grow thyme in the planter box with the oregano, keeping them about 12" apart.
Also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a very love or hate herb for most people. Personally, I love it, it has so many uses. What would a pico de gallo be without it?
A very distinct flavor profile, but has such versatile uses in many salsa, soup, salad and various other recipes. Cilantro likes to grow in mostly full sun, and watered regularly. It will produce full sowings every 2-3 weeks and must be trimmed regularly.
I plant this one in it's own planter box, it tends to grow very rapidly and will overgrow other herbs as well as take a lot of nutrients from them.
No kitchen would be the same without this beautiful, grassy flavored herb. Flat-leaf parsley stands up to the heat of cooking well, while curly parsley is what we all know to be a staple garnish.
It should be grown in full sun, and watered regularly. Parsley grows quickly, so should be trimmed regularly to avoid it overgrowing.
I grow it in it's own planter, giving it lots of space and keeping other plants aways from taking valuable nitrogen it needs to grown well. I grow both varieties in the same planter though, using each to add a beautiful splash of flavor and color to many dishes.
This delicate onion-flavored herb, is mainly used as a finishing garnish. Heat can ruin the flavor, so only add at the last minute before serving.
Chives need moist, well fertilized soil, in full sun to grow best. I have them in a box of their own and trim them regularly. They grow like crazy and will over-run your garden, so I like to keep them potted.
Used as a finish garnish on baked potatoes, in soups or dips. I love using chives to add a nice pop of color and light flavor to several dishes.
The fuzzy leaves of a sage plant pack quite the punch, and most Americans will recognize the flavor in a Thanksgiving turkey dressing/stuffing.
Grown in medium-to-full sun, try not to over-fertilize or it will dull the flavor. Grow in well drained soil, and keep it moist for it to grow best.
Sage has many uses, and I love to use it when cooking veal or a roasted chicken. I keep it in a planter that has loosely packed soil, and I don't add any fertilizer to it.
With a light licorice-like flavor, Tarragon pairs well with fish and chicken. While, it's not common to find in most places, as it's native to Siberia and western Asia, it is primarily used in French cuisine.
It grows well in partial shade, and likes to be watered often. I keep it in a pot, and mix the soil with some organic matter.
A little goes a long way with this peppery herb, I love it paired with seafood or used as a garnish.
Herb Tips & Tricks
-Do not use insecticides when growing your herbs, it will ruin the flavors!
-I save my used coffee grounds, let them dry and add them to the soil to add a little extra nutrient to it.
-Check growing instructions for your area, and follow them. (What I put in this post is only what I have found works best for me.)
-Store herbs bouquet-style when in bunches; place stem down in a jar of water and enclose in a large ziploc bag, changing the water daily. They will generally keep up to a week this way.
-To revive limp herbs, cut 1/2" off the end of the stems, and place in ice cold water for an hour.
-Wash your herbs and gently pat dry before use.
-There are more then the 10 herbs I described here, so please experiment and see what you like and what grows best for you!
Where I got my herb plants:
I bought already started plants this year from two places. I didn't have enough time or space to start them all from seeds. If you're in the western NY region, I highly recommend these places for all your herb, gardening and flower needs!
Address: 9739 W Ridge Rd, Brockport, NY 14420
Address: 3942 S Warsaw Rd, Silver Springs, NY 14550 Phone: (585)786-5548