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Using fresh herbs in cooking

Updated on January 16, 2015

Fresh herbs in a nutshell

I have been planting and using herbs for the past 15 years and I discover more about its uses each and every day . I feel that the use of fresh herbs take my cooking to the next level . Whether used by the pinch or by the bunch, fresh herbs just give that extra aroma and flavor to every recipe they are used in . Sometimes the recipe just ask for a hint of herbs but other times it is required to use a handful or two . Herbs just make my dishes taste better and even smell better . Fresh herbs will make a good dish turn out to be a great dish . Fresh herbs will enhance the flavor of any dish .

My favorite fresh herbs

Basil I use sweet basil most of all the herbs , I love its flavor and aroma . I use fresh basil with every tomato dish I make , it is just awesome on a tomato and cheese sandwich . I also use it in sauces , soups stews and salads . Try basil with strawberries and balsamic vinegar !

Rosemary Rosemary is another of my favorite herbs specially with roast chicken . Aromatic and pungent , I use it in meat dishes as well as with baked potatoes . Rosemary induced oil is my favorite for basting and baking .

Mint I love using mint whenever I make a sweet dish for the family . This is actually a very versatile herb that can be used in sweet and savory dishes but I use it exclusively in desserts . It is a very nice addition to fruit salads and I even put a few sprigs in baked puddings . Mint is a very good addition to sweet carrots and -peas . It can also be used as a garnish .

Parsley I never ever cook without parsley , I put it in almost every dish I cook . Both the curly-parsley and the flat leave parsley grow in my garden and although I like the stronger flavor of the flat leave variant , I use both of them for garnish as well as ingredient in most dishes I cook .

Fresh herbs

Fresh parsley , basil rosemary and thyme
Fresh parsley , basil rosemary and thyme

My cooking guide

I'm lucky enough to have my own garden that's full of many of my favorites and more : thyme, rosemary , chives, sage, spearmint, lavender, tarragon, marjoram and much more . I experiment with my herbs to find out what flavors will compliment what dishes . I seldom use traditional guidelines but tend to make my own new ones . I use the tender stems of the herbs in small amounts to flavor stocks and soups . The woody stems go into the recipes where the whole herb stems (like rosemary ) is needed . To release the flavor of a herb in a sauce, soup, or stew, you need to lightly crush the herb before adding it to the pot . Add some fresh herb leaves into a grilled cheese sandwich , even to a chicken or meat sandwich . Herbs like thyme and rosemary have strong aromas , flavors and tough leaves , you can use these herbs in cooking , baking and roasting .

Fresh herb mixes

Bouquet garni Consist of parsley, thyme and a bay leaf tied in a cheesecloth bag . The bouquet itself is removed from the pot before serving the dish .

Fines herbes Consist of chervil, chives and tarragon .

Herbes de Provence Consist of a bay leaf, thyme , tarragon , rosemary , chervil , oregano, savory, fennel , mint , and marjoram .

Italian herb mix Consist of savory , basil , marjoram , oregano , chives , rosemary , thyme , sage and parsley .

Mixed herbs Consist of equal parts of basil , marjoram , oregano , rosemary , sage and thyme

Bouquet garni

Bouquet garni
Bouquet garni | Source

Ways to keep fresh herbs fresh

Just harvest enough herbs for usage so nothing will go to waste . Fresh herbs can be refrigerated up to four days before losing its flavor . Most herbs will be kept fresh for up to five days when placed , stems down in a container of cold water , the water can be changed every second day . Wrap a damp paper towel around your herbs after trimming their root ends and keep it fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of days . Add your herbs at the end of cooking time – cooking ruins the flavor of herbs .

Herbal usage

What herbs do you use in cooking ?

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    • Mariefg profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Greyvenstein 

      3 years ago from Alexandria , Eastern Cape , South Africa

      Pity , I can't imagine not having a herb garden .

    • Risa Stewart profile image

      Marisa K. Rouse 

      3 years ago from North Carolina

      I used to have an indoor herb garden I got as a Christmas gift. I loved it! I used it often. And then, my cat killed it :/


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