Bursting with fragrance and flavor, mint is a versatile herb, adding sprightly, fresh coolness to sweet and savory dishes.
This multi-purpose herb can be used as a garnish, flavoring and as a vegetable. Both the curly and flat-leaved can be used for the same purposes however flat-leaf parsley has a stronger flavor.
A highly fragrant plant, Basil leaves are used as a seasoning herb for many different types of foods and has become one of the most easily recognizable herbs since pesto: a mix of basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.
Fresh Coriander leaves are an ingredient used in many South Asian foods (particularly chutneys) in Chinese dishes and also in Mexican salsas and guacamole.
The fernlike leaves of Dill are aromatic and used to flavor many like such as fish dishes including Gravlax (cured salmon). Also used in soups and pickle recipes.
Whole sprigs of fresh thyme are often used when roasting poultry, meat or vegetables however, due to the tough, woody stems, it is best to remove the sprigs prior to serving.
Sage works particularly well with fatty meats like sausage, pork and lamb predominantly because it aids in digestion. As it can easily overpower a dish, it is best to use a light hand when experimenting.
A favorite with traditional Italian Cuisine Rosemary delivers a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma that compliments many cooked foods.
Oregano is similar to Marjoram but is spicier and not as sweet. Due to its pungency, Oregano requires a little more caution in its use. Mediterranean oregano is milder than Mexican oregano. Ideal with chicken, fish, lamb, pork, veal and rabbit.
Tips On Storing Soft Herbs
For longer life it is best to treat soft herbs in the same way that would a fresh bunch of flowers. Snip the base of the stems and place them in a glass container of fresh water ensuring that you change the water as it begins to cloud.
Basil should be kept at room temperature however, a glass filled with other soft herbs are best kept in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a plastic bag.
How to store Hard Herbs
Hard herbs are best preserved after first wrapping them in a damp paper towel, before then wrapping them loosely in plastic wrap and placing in your crisper.
Final Tip When Preserving Herbs
There is no need to wash fresh herbs until you are ready to use them. Washing them only adds extra moisture as well as wasting time.