Many of our Grow Appalachia participants are constantly experimenting with their gardens, growing new foods in new ways and continually amazing us with their willingness to try new approaches to gardening. As these participants increase the variety of plants in their gardens they are also expanding their palettes and looking for new and interesting ways to prepare the fresh foods they are growing. Several of our participants have devoted spaces in their gardens specifically to growing fresh herbs and are now constantly asking us how to use these herbs in their cooking. We have provided them with recipes for pesto and other uses for basil but we have yet to expand to offering information about the other bountiful herbs that make food so delicious.
This week I spent a bit of rainy day time compiling a guide to cooking with fresh herbs for our participants and thought that I would share it here as well.
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
Herbs can be stored for several days by immersing the stems in 1 inch of water in a tall glass. Cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate; replace water when cloudy. You can also freeze herbs by removing the leaves from the stems, rinsing and drying the leaves, and then placing them in a heavy-duty sealed plastic bag for up to six months. (Frozen herbs darken but retain much of their flavor.)
Flavor: Fragrant and spicy- almost peppery
Recipes/Pairings: Good in sauces (pesto & tomato), on sandwiches, to top pizza and paired with fresh tomatoes
Prep: Leaves are best when used whole or torn, unless processing into a sauce
Flavor: mild onion flavor
Recipes/Pairings: good used in cream sauces and risottos, as a garnish to salads and potato dishes
Prep: snip chives with a scissors for easy prep and add at the end of cooking to maximize flavor, or simply sprinkle on top of a finished dish
Flavor: Bright and refreshing green flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Great in Salsa, chutney, guacamole, or used in any Mexican, Thai, or Asian dishes
Prep: Add the raw leaves and stems to the dish after it is done cooking
Flavor: fresh and grassy anise like flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Used in pickling, great in fish dishes, dressings, potatoes, and goes well with dips/sauces that use mayonnaise or sour cream
Prep: Use dill fresh or add to hot foods just before serving
Flavor: delicate and slightly sweet flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Goes well with most meats particularly lamb, beef, pork, and chicken. Also tastes good in stews and with fish. Marjoram pairs well with tomatoes and can be used in most dishes where you would use oregano.
Prep: Remove leaves from stem and chop before adding to dishes
Flavor: cool and bright flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Great paired with lamb, peas, used in Thai dishes and for jelly or sauce. Mint is also great for flavoring drinks (tea, lemonade, etc.), and to use in sweet dishes or baked goods, especially good with chocolate.
Prep: strip leaves from stem and add to dishes whole or chopped.
Flavor: Earthy flavor that balances acidity
Recipes/Pairings: Great for pizza, pasta, poultry rubs, lamb, beef, and homemade dressings.
Prep: Chop fresh leaves before adding to dish.
Flavor: Peppery and fresh
Recipes/Pairings: Great in pasta, eggs, fish, meat, pesto, and very good in potato salad
Prep: Chop and add raw after food has been completely cooked
Flavor: strong aroma and piney flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Great with potatoes, poultry, pork, fish, baked into breads, and added to long cooking stews
Prep: Remove leaves from stem and add early on in cooking process. Rosemary has a strong flavor so start with a little and continue to add to taste
Flavor: Strong aromatic and woodsy flavor
Recipes/Pairings: Good in rich or creamy dishes, paired with winter squash, sausage, beans, anything with brown butter sauce, or baked into cornbread
Prep: Remove leaves from stems and chop (crumble if using dried), use sparingly to begin and add more to taste
Flavor: Minty and citrusy flavor and aroma
Recipes/Pairings: Can be paired with almost any meat, poultry, fish, or vegetable, especially good in stews, rice, dips, sauces, and paired with eggplant.
Prep: Strip leaves by running fingers along the stem
Do you have any fresh herb forward recipes to share, we would love to try them out!