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Herbs in the kitchen

If your spice cabinet or garden contains only a minimum of herbs, you are missing out on some of the delightful culinary experiences of life. Once you begin to use fresh herbs in your favourite recipes, you’ll never want go back to using just dried herbs again. You will be hooked for life.
Herbs are one of nature’s little surprise packages that contain a lot of flavour. A little goes a long way. You do not need much to make an extraordinary impact in your cooking.

Fantastic cuisine can be very simply prepared, but add a few fresh herbs and you have created a masterpiece. As you master the art of seasoning with fresh herbs, you will astound family and guests with your remarkable culinary talents.

It’s easy to grow a container herb garden with kitchen herbs that you frequently use. But to be successful, you must know the basics of what herbs need to thrive. If you cook with herbs, there is nothing better than having fresh live herbs on hand whenever you need them. Purchasing fresh cut herbs in the store can be expensive, requires planning ahead, and often leaves you with more herb than you need for the recipe. Growing your own provides a constant supply of fresh cut herbs on demand, and it is easier than you may think.

Herbs and Sunlight

Depending on the amount of light that you have inside your home, you may not actually be able to have your “kitchen” herb garden in the kitchen or even indoors at all. Herbs are tough plants that can withstand drought, heat, sub-optimal nutrient levels and many types of horticultural abuses. But they cannot thrive without very high light levels. Bottom line…herbs require sun, and a lot of it

If you have an area inside your home that receives unfiltered, direct sun for much of the day, you can probably grow your herbs indoors. If not, it’s fine to grow them outdoors, just try to have your container herb garden in a location convenient to your kitchen, such as a patio or balcony. The farther your herbs are from the kitchen, the more difficult they’ll be to access, and you’ll be less likely to use them.

Herbs and Water

Most herbs are drought resistant. They require regular watering, but will weather dry periods better than they’ll tolerate being soggy and over-watered. The aroma and flavour of many herbs actually improves when the plants are exposed to drier conditions.

It is important to provide herbs with good soil drainage. Be sure to use a pot that has holes in the bottom and place some type of material in the base of the pot that will improve drainage, such as stones or packing peanuts.

Herbs and Soil

Use a good quality potting soil that drains well, but also holds moisture, so that the herbs will not be exposed to large variations in moisture level.

Harvesting Herbs

Allow the plants to develop several sets of leaves before you begin harvesting. Herbs will be more robust and bushy if you regularly pinch off the tops at a point just above where the stem branches. Prune in this way even when you don’t need to use any of the herb, to encourage bushy growth. The small amounts harvested can be dried for later use.

As the plants get larger, you can harvest more frequently, and in larger amounts, but always leave a few sets of leaves so that the plant can regrow.

This entry was posted on February 7, 2017, in Herbs.

Our world of herbs

The unique, wonderfully fragrant aroma of food being prepared with aromatic herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme, are just some of those delicious memories that can be stored quietly at the back of our nasal sensory organs to be reminded about out when the mood takes us. Not only do herbs smell and taste great, some of them also have remarkable and effective healing properties.
Making tea and extracts from herbs is a simple procedure. Take a handful of fresh, organically grown herbs and let them steep in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. Strain and sip slowly. Lemon and honey can be added for taste. Most herbs have excellent medicinal qualities in addition to their culinary uses.

In South Africa we have no less than 3,000 known traditional medicinal herbs.  More readily known herbs include the beautiful, mineral rich herb Borage which is a natural diuretic, an anti-rheumatic and an expectorant, rich in vitamin C and calcium. Mint, of which there are many species, is a superb digestive that relieves heartburn, cramps and nausea. A cup of mint tea after a heavy meal will help with digestion and leave you full of energy! Another familiar herb, parsley, is an excellent diuretic and is one of the best herbs for rheumatism, gout, arthritis and for flushing toxins from the body.

A guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use three times as much as you would use of a dried herb. Fresh herbs are usually more successful in a dish and should be purchased close to the time you plan to use them. When growing herbs in your own garden the ideal time to pick them is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps ensure the best flavor and storage quality.

This entry was posted on February 7, 2017, in Herbs.

Container herb combinations

  • French cuisine – sweet basil, summary savory, marjoram, sage, oregano, chives, thymes and chervil.
  • Italian cuisine – sweet basil, thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley and oregano
  • Mexican – Chillies, parsley, coriander, garlic chives and oregano

and off course – ‘Don’t forget the Garlic

This entry was posted on August 12, 2012, in Herbs.

Container herb care

Herbs in containers should get at least 5 to 6 hours of sun per day as this will stimulate taste, health and resistance to pests and disease. Container herbs also require more water than their peers in in the garden as pots drain more readily and lose moisture quickly. Regular picking stimulates new growth and serves as a form of ‘pruning’.

Happy herb gardening

 

This entry was posted on August 12, 2012, in Herbs.

Benefits of an organic herb garden

Benefits of an Organic Herb Garden

“Herbs are one of the most beneficial groups of plants to have in the organic garden. Grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, organic herbs attract many beneficial insects, bees, birds and butterflies to the garden and vegetable plot with the resultant benefits of a high level of pollination and increased yields. By growing your own herbs organically you not only create a beautiful garden that is teeming with wildlife, but also increase the productivity and the health of the plants you grow. You can enjoy picking your own healthy herbs and vegetables without the worry of introducing harmful pesticides into your diet.” – From the informative ‘New Book of Herbs’ by herb expert Jekka Mcvicar

This entry was posted on January 10, 2012, in Herbs.