The Use of Herbs in Cooking and Seasoning
Herbs have been used through the centuries to add flavor and zest to food. The Greeks use Greek oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, dill, parsley, bay leaves and wild cherry; the French , chives, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, lavender, basil, fennel, and mint; and the Spanish, cayenne pepper, parsley, mint rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, bay leaves and tarragon. The Mexicans incorporate cilantro as well as using the herbs of the Spanish into their food.
The Chinese favor fennel, star anise, ginger, hot mustard, fox nut and parsley. Italians prefer oregano, parsley, basil, and bay leaves. Whatever your food preference there are a multitude of herbs to enhance and add excitement to your dishes.
A list of foods and herbs that compliment :
Tuna, Salmon- dill weed, tarragon, marjoram, basil, savory, and thyme.
Shellfish and Fish- all above and bay leaf .
Chicken, Turkey- thyme, bay leaf
Duck , Goose- sage , savory
Beef - basil, thyme, oregano, dill weed, marjoram, chervil, mint.
Meat loaf- sage, basil, oregano, savory
Meatballs- basil, thyme, sage, oregano, savory, rosemary, and chervil .
Pot Roast- bay leaf, thyme,
Steak Kabobs- basil, thyme, rosemary, and tarragon.
Pork chops- sage, thyme, oregano, dill weed, marjoram, basil, and tarragon.
Pork Roast- sage, ground rosemary, thyme, basil, tarragon, and savory.
Sausages- sage, marjoram, savory, and thyme.
Smoked Ham- rosemary, marjoram, and mint.
Spare Ribs- sage, thyme, marjoram, chervil, oregano, and savory.
Lamb Chops- basil, oregano
Ground Lamb- basil, oregano, and mint.
Roast Lamb- thyme, marjoram, oregano, and rosemary.
Lamb Stew- bay leaf, oregano, thyme, and basil,
Veal- thyme, tarragon, rosemary, chervil.
Tomatoes, green beans- tarragon, basil, dill weed.
Summer squash- thyme, sage
Zucchini- oregano, basil, savory, rosemary.
Winter squash- mint, chervil.
Turnips, Rutabagas- dill weed, oregano, marjoram.
White Potatoes- dill weed, basil, tarragon, savory.
Sweet Potatoes- mint, marjoram.
Eggplant- oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary.
Lima beans- savory, marjoram, oregano.
Soups and Chowders-
Chicken- bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, sage.
Creamy- dill weed, thyme. Rosemary.
Fish- basil, bay leaf, tarragon, thyme.
Vegetable- basil, bay leaf, thyme, and marjoram.
Thyme must be added to hot food at least 20 minutes before serving to avoid bitterness. It has a strong pungent flavor.
Oregano has a pungent flavor. Good when used in small amounts. Good with tomato dishes.
Basil taste like anise. It has a strong pungent sweet smell.
Savory has a bold and peppery flavor . Summer savory is delicate compared to winter savory. Winter savory is best for longer cooking. Savory is excellent when used in cooking beans.
Rosemary has a refreshing peppery flavor.
Tarragon taste like anise. It is one of the four French fines herbes used in French cuisine.
Dill weed has a flavor like mild caraway or fennel. It is a member of the parsley family.
Sage has a slight peppery flavor and is used to flavor meats.
Use herbs either fresh or dried. Use one part dry herbs to three parts fresh herbs. While herbs can be bought in bulk, they are better when bought in small amounts to preserve flavor and aroma. Organic herbs can be purchased at local nurseries. Herbs can also be grown in pots on porches and decks. They should be stored in airtight glass containers. Empty clean baby food jars make excellent storage containers for herbs. Stick on labels can be purchased to label the containers and dates should be placed on labels.
To determine if a herb is to your taste crush a small amount of the herb in your hand, let it sit a moment and smell and taste the herb. This will allow you to decide if the herb is to your liking. Don’t be afraid of trying new ways to flavor dishes but start with small amounts and add additional amounts during cooking till it reaches the desired seasoning. Herbs can be used alone or combined. Bon Appetite!