Today we’re discussing the gorgeously green awesomeness that are herbs (are herbs/is herbs?!). Now, before you go getting all controversial on us, we’re talking culinary herbs, not the newly legal herbs that you can grow in Colorado or Washington! If you’re just trying out your green thumb, an herb garden is perfect way to learn how to tend a garden without too much commitment.
According to the Texas Extension Office, you only need 6 square feet to start an herb garden (and really you can start with a couple of potted plants on your windowsill). This time of year you can find potted herbs at most large grocery stores, home improvement stores, nurseries or farmers’ markets. Go through the garden section and see what looks and smells great. When you’re growing your own herbs you have a wealth of flavors at your fingertips, and this time of year you can buy the whole plant for less than the dried versions.
Today we’re going to talk about 6 basic herbs that you should have in your kitchen.
6 Herbs for Beginners (or anyone who likes flavor)
- Basil: It seems like there are a million different varieties of basil, so don’t feel like you are limited to just one. Basil always makes me think of bruschetta and caprese salad. You can also make homemade basil pesto or use it in pasta sauces. Basil has an amazingly fresh flavor, and it’s easy to use. Just trim the plant whenever you need it. If you find that you have too much, you can chop it and freeze it in olive oil. Basil is also known for it’s anti-inflamatory and anti-bacterial properties.
- Cilantro: If you live in south Texas, you should be familiar with cilantro. This is an extremely hardy herb, and the smell reminds me of fresh salsa. This is perfect for tortilla soup, and it’s also delicious in Pho. If you let it go to seed then you have coriander, so it’s pretty much a two for one herb! Medicinally, cilantro is considered a ‘revitalizing’ herb and can also help with indigestion. It is one of the oldest known herbs found in Asian cooking and healing recipes from centuries ago!
- Rosemary: I have had the most luck with rosemary, and that’s probably because I have two large rosemary bushes that I couldn’t kill if I tried! I haven’t purchased rosemary since we moved into this house, and I’ll substitute rosemary for almost anything! It’s delicious with chicken and roasted potatoes. You can also use dried rosemary in sachets in the closet if you feel so inclined! Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant and memory booster. It’s also high in iron, calcium, and potassium.
- Thyme: This has smaller leaves, and it has a distinctive scent. Thyme works well with roasted vegetables and fish. A really easy way to trim the leaves off the plant is to run scissors down the stalk, and the leaves will pop off. Thyme has been use as an immune booster for centuries brewed in a tea or broth.
- Sage: This is a beautifully soft herb, and I think it would be beautiful in a small flower arrangement. Sage has a strong flavor, so I like it best with meats and heavier stews. Sage grows a little bigger so it needs more space in the garden. Commonly used around Thanksgiving, sage is also a powerful cough soother, bloat reducer and can combat hot flashes!
- Mint: Mint is a refreshing dessert herb. Any time a recipe calls for mint extract, you can use finely chopped mint. It’s perfect in warm weather drinks and ice cream, but don’t forget how wonderfully mint pairs with lamb. Just a word of warning, mint is pushy. It will take over your garden, so grow it in a pot. Mint should be in every mother’s garden – it is a natural headache remedy!
So, that’s it for today’s herb primer. Are there any herbs that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t? We made a 4×6 card to help inspire you in the kitchen. Although it’s not a complete, comprehensive guide to every use for herbs in your kitchen, we hope it inspires you to use more fresh herbs!
Ps – We have smart and savvy readers here at HMM – please do your research and read up on the uses we’ve suggested for these common kitchen herbs. None of the suggestions here should be considered medical advice. xoxo