Herbs are used for many different things in addition to flavoring foods; they have medicinal properties, smell nice and can be used to decorate your space.  If you’re looking for something with which to ‘dip your toes into’ in terms of gardening, why not try herbs first?  You can grow herbs in a garden or a pot, and grow as much or as little of the ones you want.  Popular herbs include basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and mint; lesser known herbs include marjoram, chervil, chives and lavender.

Eat What:

-Dill is an example of a plant used both as an herb (dill weed) and a spice (dill seed or coriander)

-Modern pharmaceuticals had their origins in crude herbal medicines, and to this day, many drugs are still extracted as fractionate/isolate compounds from raw herbs and then purified to meet pharmaceutical standards. (Wikipedia)

Eat When:

-Most herbs will grow from early spring to fall; be sure to harvest them appropriately to ensure maximum growth

-Store most herbs wrapped  in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the fridge, or an herb keeper filled with water

Eat Right:

-Use fresh herbs to season food and decrease your reliance on salt for flavor; this will help lower your daily sodium intake

-Capsaisin, the heat in chile peppers, has been found to help lower blood pressure

-The essential oils and phytonutrients found in herbs often have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Eat More:

-Have an abundance of an herb and don’t want it to go to waste?  Chop finely and place by the tablespoon into an ice tray, fill with a little water and freeze.  Pop out each ‘cube,’ place in a bag, label and store in the freezer.  Use like fresh in recipes all year round!

-Hang bunches of a single type of herb upside down to dry; when crispy, remove leaves and place in glass jars with your other dried herbs.

-Try using mint instead of basil in your next pesto recipe

-Toss fresh herbs into drinks or fruit salads

Bouquet Garni

A ‘bouquet garni’ is French for ‘garnished bouquet’ and is a bundle of herbs tied together.  The herbs are typically thrown into stews to provide flavor, and are removed after cooking.  You can tie the bunch with cooking twine, place the herbs in a sachet or use a perforated tube designed for that purpose.  The recipe for a traditional bouquet garni is below, but you can use almost any combination to suit your taste.

3 sprigs parsley

2 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

Herbs can be used fresh or dried, and can be combined with garlic, other whole spices (like cloves or star anise) and peppercorns.


Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.