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Do You Cook With These Useful Herbs?

Updated on January 26, 2017

Useful Herbs

Some of the herbs talked about here will be familiar to you, others will not. I grow a few of them in my garden, and the rest come from the supermarket.

No matter where they come from, these herbs are those I won't do without in my kitchen, or enjoy having in my garden for their great scents. There is some native Australian mint in my garden, but so far I haven't cooked with it.

The picture is a close-up of mint in flower. I love the scent of mint when you brush against it.

Mint flowers.
Mint flowers. | Source

Are you surprised that lavendar can be used in cooking? I know I was, so I did a little reading about it.

Lavendar is a member of the mint family, and its Latin name is L. angustifolia. It is related to sages, thymes, rosemary, savoury, oregano, and balms.

There are many types of lavendar, but the English variety is the strongest and is most used in cooking. Both the leaves and the flowers can be used when fresh, and buds and stems can be dried. Lavendar leaves can be used in the same way as rosemary.

By the way, I've checked and the correct spelling of lavendar is with the AR, but Er may be used also. :-)

Lavendar

Lavendar with bumble bee.
Lavendar with bumble bee. | Source
Jansal Valley Lavender Honey, 8 Ounce
Jansal Valley Lavender Honey, 8 Ounce

Lavendar flavoured honey - a sweet treet!

 
Oregano in flower.
Oregano in flower. | Source

Oregano

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family. It is native to Eurasia and the Mediterranean. It is a perennial, and grows up to 80 cm tall. The flowers are purple spikes.

Oregano is often used on pizza, and is a common ingredient in Italian and Mexican cooking.

It is a rich source of Vitamin K, has some anti-oxidant qualities, and also has some anti-bacterial properties. Oregano is high in iron and manganese, and contains other minerals. It is also rich in fibre (when fresh) and contains omega-3 fatty acids.

Try oregano in your cooking - it will add a little spice, not to mention great taste.

Herbs Poll

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Basil.
Basil. | Source

Basil

Common basil is also known as sweet basil. It is native to the tropics of India, Africa, and Asia.

Basil is a member of the mint family. Bush Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a small shrub, one of several varieties of this herb. It's a herb I don't use much at present, but will be adding it to my kitchen soon. The name 'Basil" comes from an old Greek work for king or royal.

Basil for Health

Iron, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C are found in basil, which also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese and Vitamin A.

Basil is sometimes used in herbal teas for the treatment of digestive problems. Basil is also reputed to have a sedative effect, so it may be good to drink when feeling stressed. It can be used for treating stomach cramps and vomiting, among other problems.

When using fresh basil in cooking, it should be added when the food is almost ready, as too long cooking ruins the flavour.

Basil in Cooking

It is one of the ingredients of pesto.

Add it to soups. Put a few leaves in your green salad. Use it in marinades

Basil is very good when used with tomatoes.

Chop some fresh basil and sprinkle it over your vegetables for a really different flavour.

Basil in Folklore

  • Some Indians believe that the divine essence is held in basil.
  • Mexicans use it as a love potion.
  • Basil is used to prepare holy water in some churches, as it is reputed to have been found growing near Christ's tomb.
  • Africans claim it can protect against scorpions.
  • In Haitian Voodoo, basil is sacred to the Goddess Erzulie.
  • In ancient Greece and Egypt, basil was believed to open the gates of heaven for the dying.

As you can see, there is a lot more to basil than you'd first believe.

RSVP Herb Scissors
RSVP Herb Scissors

Every kitchen needs a really good pair of herb scissors, and these fit the bill.

 

Parsley

Parsley.
Parsley. | Source

Parsley is another herb with many uses. It's often used in white sauce, when it adds a slightly peppery flavour to the sauce, and it is often eaten with white fish.

One of my favourite uses for it is making parsley wine. This wine is white, on the dry side, and goes well with chicken and fish, or just enjoy a relaxing glass in the evening.

Parsley also has some medicinal uses. It may be a diuretic, and is reputed to help bad breath. Parsley contains apigenin, a chemical with alleged anti-cancer qualities. It is not recommended in large doses for pregnant women.

Apple Mint.
Apple Mint. | Source

Mint

There are lots of varieties of mint, and the photo is apple mint growing wild.

Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, and has very many uses, far too many for me to list here. Mint can be used either fresh or dried.

One of my favourite ways to use it, is chopped fresh with melted butter over small new potatoes - yummy! Add a little garlic for extra flavour.

Some Varieties of Mint:

  • Spearmint,
  • Peppermint,
  • Chocolate Mint,
  • Apple Mint,
  • Orange Mint,
  • and many more.

In my garden, I have some native Australian mint, which has a really strong aroma. I love to touch it when gardening, as it releases a beautiful scent when brushed against.

Mint is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2. It is also claimed to be an antioxident.

Books About Herbs

Thyme in flower.
Thyme in flower. | Source

Thyme

Thyme attracts bees to your garden, which is always a good thing for fertilizing your plants. It is used in pot pourri, and may be added to some deodorants.

Have your heard of Benedictine, a very strong liqueur? Thyme is one of the ingredients used in this drink.

Thyme contains iron, and is a good source of this mineral. It is frequently used in cooking, and its flavour goes very well with some meats. It also adds flavour to honey.

The ancient Egyptians used thyme for enbalming.

Rosemary

Blue rosemary.
Blue rosemary. | Source

Rosemary is often used as a landscaping plant. It is hardy and attractive. The image is the blue rosemary in my garden.

Rosemary is reputed to repel mosquitoes, and some say it also repels cats.

It is used in the kitchen as a very useful herb. A sprig of rosemary on the lamb roast adds a very nice flavour.

This herb is known as the herb of remembrance, and sprigs of rosemary are often worn on commemorative days.

It is also used in bath oils, and various herbal ointments.

Dill patch.
Dill patch. | Source

Dill

Anethum graveolens

Dill adds a really nice smokey flavour to recipes. I particularly like it in a chicken casserole, but be careful not to overdo it!

It is a very easy herb to grow, and enjoys the sun, but will tolerate the shade. Grow it from seed, or get seedlings from a nursery.

Dill grows to about 1 metre, so needs a little space at the back of the herb garden. It will happily seed itself and can become a pest, so you'll have to keep it in check.

Arabian Proverb

"How can a man die who has sage in his garden"

Sage

Sage.
Sage. | Source

The common sage in flower is shown in the image.

There are many types of sage, and unfortunately, I've had no luck in growing the common sage, clary sage,or the variegated variety. I have some white sage, and have just planted a couple of the ordinary sage, Salvia officianalis. White sage is commonly used to make smudge sticks, and is regarded as a cleansing herb.

In the kitchen, uses for sage are many. It is an important ingredient in stuffing poultry and fish. We always used it in home made stuffing when I was a child, and I still remember the great flavour.

Garlic

Garlic bulbs.
Garlic bulbs. | Source

Garlic is sometimes classed as a herb and sometimes as a vegetable. It's in the onion family, so could be a vegetable, however, I always use it as a herb, so here it is on this lens.

Garlic's latin name is Allium sativum, and it is related to chives, leeks, onions, and similar plants. It has been used as food and medicine for thousands of years.

It is rich in antioxidants, and is sometimes used in the prevention of heart disease. Garlic also has been used as an anti-coagulant.

Garlic can be used in salads, as a flavouring for sauces, roasted as a vegetable, and scores of other uses. Raw garlic is the strongest flavoured kind, and the smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavour, as more of it is exposed to the air.

Don't go overboard with garlic in your cooking, as it is easy to overdo it, especially if you love it as much as I do. Other people don't always care for it, and some are allergic to it.

Corsican Mint

Corsican mint.
Corsican mint. | Source

Corsican mint, or Mentha requienii, is native to Corsica, Sardinia, France, and mainland Italy. It can grow up to 10 cm, although 3 - 4 cm is more usual.

This mint is used as the flavouring in Creme de Menthe. It is said to repel insects when used as a companion plant to the cabbage (brassica) family.

Although I haven't used this plant in cooking, I have used it as a ground cover in areas not much walked on, as it is quite hardy. It does not like to be over watered, and will grow well in shaded areas.

Readers Comments - Do You Use Herbs?

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    • Magpie Feathers profile image

      Magpie Feathers 4 years ago

      I always use a lot of herbs while cooking. I'm glad I learnt their nutritional values through your lens. Thank you.

    • WendyArts profile image

      WendyArts 4 years ago

      Great reference page. Love cooking with herbs. Thanks.

    • leatherwooddesign profile image

      Marisa Horn 4 years ago from Rintown Pa

      I don't use as mush as I would like. This is a great, well thought out and laid out lens. :)

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I love herbs and my favourites are thyme, coriander and basil. I plan to grow my own herb garden soon.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      Herbs have such great flavours to add to so many dishes. It is wonderful that they have such beneficial properties too.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Lynda Makara: Haven't grown cilantro, but I do have all the others in my garden. Love the scents. Thanks for visiting

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      I love fresh herbs. I have basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and cilantro.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @vwzotteke: Thanks for visiting, and glad you found the lens interesting.

    • profile image

      vwzotteke 4 years ago

      Tnx for this great lens I know now a lot more about herbs al-do I ouse a lot of these herbs when I'm cooking

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @NightMagic: Thanks for visiting. Thinking of new herbs to add all the time.

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 4 years ago

      There's a few things here I did know like, you can use Lavender like rosemary. Thanks for sharing.

    • malenk lm profile image

      malenk lm 4 years ago

      yes, i have an herb garden, my favorites are rosemary, cilantro, and basil.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: It's the start of Autumn here, and I now have to plant out the rosemary cutting in time for the rains (hopefully) coming. Got to get the parsley seed out too. Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This just makes me long for fresh herbs again. It'll be some time before that happens with winter still in full bloom here. :)

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: Haven't heard of these, but I'll look into them. Usually I write about herbs I know and use. Thanks for visiting.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: Thanks for your visit - I like writing about them.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @JoyfulMom LM: Glad you liked the lens. Thanks for visiting.

    • JoyfulMom LM profile image

      JoyfulMom LM 4 years ago

      I love learning about herbs! Thanks for an informative lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for your informative page on herbs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You should check out bacopa and ashwagandha as well. They are very useful herbs from India that give noticeable improvement in brain function and protect the body against damage from stress.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @LisaAuch1: When I was in the UK in June, there were a few bumble bees around, but didn't see any wasps (thankfully). Wonder why? Thanks for visiting

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      Here in the Uk there is a shortage of Bees and wasps this year, so perhaps i shall grow some ot attract them too, thankyou for this useful page

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      After reading this lens I will definitely grow Thyme as I really want to attract more bees to the garden.