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herbs commonly used in our kitchen

The herbs listed here are grown in our garden. All fresh herbs can be dried but they are invariably better fresh. But if you do want to substitute dried for fresh, 1 Tbsp fresh herb = 1 tsp dried herb.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Annual - likes lots of sun and warmth. Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Water daily when it is hot. Pinch flowers off to encourage more leaf growth, otherwise the plant will go to seed.

I plant Genovese, Purple Ruffles, Cinnamon, and Thai Ocimum 'Siam Queen' basil in pots on our patio. (one plant per 8 inch pot) The leaves and flowers have an intense flavour; a little goes a long way. Cinnamon Basil flowers smell like cinnamon but the taste is roughly the same as Genovese and Purple Ruffles. Thai basil is slightly milder in taste that the others and makes a good garnish. Basil is excellent with grilled meats, Asian food, on pizza or in pesto.

We use leaves and flowers for garnishes throughout the summer season. In late summer, I cut the stalks and either make pesto from the leaves of Genovese basil or hang the stalks upside down to dry. As required, we crush about 10 dried leaves per pizza or in tomato sauce throughout the winter.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Bay Laurel

Laurus nobilis

Tender Perennial - likes rich organic soil, sun and warmth, but it can tolerate some shade. Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Water daily when it is hot. Watch for scale. Treatment for scale: in the early morning, spray trunk and both sides of leaves with soapy water. Gently rub scale off with your fingers. Repeat every day until you don't see any scales. Then repeat every week until scales are not seen. Be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged.

When night temperatures start to fall below 10C, bring the pot indoors for the winter. Keep it in bright light and water when the soil is dry. In spring when night temperatures are above 10C, bring the pot outside. Veil it from the sun for the first two weeks to gradually reintroduce it to the intense outdoor light. (I use an old lace curtain.)

Once the plant is well established (2 feet tall with plenty of leaves), use fresh whole leaves as required. One leaf in soup stock is plenty. Try not to take too many leaves over the winter as the plant is in dormancy. The leaves can be dried for use in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Chervil

Anthriscus cerefolium

Annual - partial shade, rich organic soil. Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Water daily when it is hot. Cut flowers to encourage leaf growth.

Chervil has a beautiful lacy leaf and a delicate taste of licorice. Use fresh leaves as garnish or in salad. Cut the leaves just before serving. Chervil is very good with grilled fish. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Chives

Allium schoenoprasum

Hardy Perennial - sun or partial shade, rich moist soil. Cut the flowers to encourage leaf growth.

Chives have a beautiful grasslike leaf, lilac coloured flowers and a delicate taste of onion. Cut fresh leaves and flowers to use as garnish or in salad. Cut the leaves just before serving. Cut the florets off of the main flower balls as a whole flower can be very intense. Chives are very good with anything grilled. They are also excellent with hard boiled eggs and/or hollandaise sauce. Chives are best put onto dishes just before serving as the flavour and colour is reduced drastically with cooking. Chives in springtime have the most intense flavour.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Coriander

Coriandrum sativum

Annual - sun (can tolerate light shade), any welldraining soil. Plant seeds every two weeks. Coriander quickly goes to seed in northern areas. It will self seed as well.

Coriander has a slightly soapy perfumy taste. The leaves are also called "cilantro". The strong tasting seeds are ground up to use in Asian stews. The equally strong tasting leaves are usually used as a garnish. We love the taste of coriander leaves but other people find them to be very offensive. Coriander leaves are best put into little dishes on the table for people to garnish their own food. We adore coriander leaves as a garnish for green chili and onion omelette.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Dill

Anethum graveolens

Annual - sun (can tolerate a little light shade), any welldraining soil. Plant seeds every two weeks. Dill quickly goes to seed in northern areas. It will self seed as well. Watch for the larvae of the swallowtail butterfly. The bright green caterpillars will eat the whole plant. However, if you can, spare their lives and let them eat your dill; they turn into such lovely creatures.

Dill has lovely looking feathery leaves and a flavour that is difficult to describe. It tastes most flavourful just as the flowers are opening. Cut the flowers to encourage more leaf growth. The seeds taste of licorice and are lovely toasted with beets. Dill leaves make a good garnish for grilled salmon.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Garlic

Allium sativum

Hardy Perennial if unharvested... plant single cloves 15 cm (6 inches) apart and 5 cm (2 inches) deep in early spring or fall in any good garden soil; full sun (will tolerate some light shade) Cut the flowers to encourage leaf and bulb growth.

Ah, Garlic! Where would we be without this pungent bulb? A single clove of garlic will enhance a savoury dish. Roasted whole garlic cloves are fantastic as well. The flowers can be eaten; they taste strongly of garlic. Harvest the bulbs just as the leaves are turning gold. Brush the dirt off the bulbs and let them dry a little in the sun before storing them in a cool dry place for later use. We use our garden garlic immediately in pesto that is put into the freezer for winter use.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

English Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia

Hardy Perennial - sun, poor soil. Cut the flowers to encourage leaf growth.

Lavender is very perfumed. A little goes a long way. It is used in southern French cookery. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Lemongrass

Cymbopogon citratus

Tender Perennial - likes rich organic soil, sun and warmth, but it can tolerate some shade. It thrives in hot humid weather but it should be protected from hot afternoon sun. Water daily when it is hot. Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Keep the soil moist but be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged.

When night temperatures start to fall below 10C, bring the pot indoors for the winter. Keep it in bright light and water when the soil is dry. It will go into dormancy so it's best not to harvest too many stalks during the winter. If you have a cat, put the plant somewhere out of reach. (Over the course of one winter, our cat completely demolished a very well established lemongrass plant.) Lemongrass can be rooted from stalks bought at the greengrocer. I usually do this rooting in the spring. In spring when night temperatures are above 10C, bring the pot outside. Veil it from the sun for the first two weeks to gradually reintroduce it to the intense outdoor light. (I use an old lace curtain.)

Once the plant is well established, use fresh whole leaves as required. They have a distinct lemon flavour. It is especially useful in Asian food. Try not to take too many fresh leaves over the winter as the plant is in dormancy. Lemongrass is quite tough. If you find it is too tough, use lemon verbena instead. (Lemon balm is too perfumy and is not recommended as a substitute.)


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Sweet Marjoram

Origanum majorana

Perennial but treat as an Annual - sun (can tolerate a little light shade), any welldraining soil.

Marjoram is related to oregano but has a strong more perfumed flavour. Mix the leaves with ricotta when stuffing manicotti. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Mint

Spearmint Mentha spicata, Wild mint Mentha arvensis, Ginger Mint Mentha gentillis 'Variegata' (M. arvensis X M. spicata), Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Vietnamese Mint Mentha x gracilis

Hardy Perennial - sun or partial shade, rich, moist soil (manure is not recommended).

Mint is wonderful in tea or as a garnish for savoury and sweet dishes. Spearmint is especially good chopped and tossed with freshly steamed peas. It is also very good in pesto. Mint flowers are edible as well. Cut the flowers to encourage more leaf growth. The leaves can be dried for use in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.

Lemon balm isn't actually a mint but is in the same family as mint and will spread like wildfire if allowed. It has the taste and scent of lemon drop candies. (Lemon balm is very perfumy and is not recommended as a substitute for lemon verbena or lemongrass.)


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum majus

Annual - sun (can tolerate light shade), any welldraining soil. Plant seeds in the spring. Watch for aphids. Treatment for aphids: in the early morning, spray both sides of leaves and flowers with soapy water. Gently rub aphids off with your fingers. Repeat every day until you don't see any aphids. Then repeat every week until aphids are not seen. Be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged.

Nasturtium leaves and flowers are edible. They have a sweet hot flavour. Use them in salads or as a garnish for anything grilled. Apparently, unripe nasturtium fruits can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers. We have never tried this because we always eat the flowers before they can fruit.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Curled Parsley

Petroselinum crispum crispum

Biennial - sun or partial shade, rich, moist soil. Flowers in the second year. Use the leaves of the first year. Watch for the larvae of the swallowtail butterfly. The bright green caterpillars will eat the whole plant. However, if you can, spare their lives and let them eat your parsley; they turn into such lovely creatures.

Parsley is a good breath freshening garnish for any savoury dish. It is also used in making stocks, pesto.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

Tender Perennial - plant in a pot in the sun (will tolerate light partial shade) sheltered from wind, neutral soil (not acidic). Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Water when soil has just dried. Be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged. Watch for powdery mildew. Treatment for mildew: in the early morning, spray with a mild solution of water and baking soda (1 Tbsp baking soda in a litre of water)

When night temperatures start to fall below 10C, bring the pot indoors for the winter. Keep it in bright light and water sparingly when the soil is dry. Watch for mildew. In spring when night temperatures are above 10C, bring the pot outside. Veil it from the sun for the first two weeks to gradually reintroduce it to the intense outdoor light. (I use an old lace curtain.)

Rosemary flowers and leaves are edible. They are quite strong tasting and a little goes a long way. Whole branches are wonderful deep fried til golden and crisp. Rosemary is very good with pork or chicken and I've been told it also goes well with lamb. Put fresh leaves on foccaccia before baking. The leaves can be dried for us in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying. Try not to take too many fresh leaves over the winter as the plant is in dormancy.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Sage

Salvia officinalis

Hardy Perennial - sun (will tolerate light partial shade) well-drained neutral soil (not acidic). Cut plant back in early spring for new foliage. Water when soil has just dried. Be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged.

Sage flowers and leaves are edible. They are quite strong tasting and a little goes a long way. Whole leaves are wonderful deep fried til golden and crisp. Sage is very good with pork or chicken and I think it is an essential stuffing ingredient. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in poultry dressing over the winter.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Summer Savory

Satureja hortensi

Annual - sun, any neutral soil. Allow the plants to flower and go to seed. They will self seed the following year.

Summer savory is similar in flavour to oregano. Toss fresh leaves into steamed green beans. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence or on pizza but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying. Cut the stalks and hang upside down to dry.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

French Tarragon

Artemisia dracunculus sativa

Hardy Perennial - sun (will tolerate light partial shade) well-drained sandy soil; it must be planted from a rooted plant rather than from seed. Russian tarragon is a dull and tasteless cousin.

Tarragon leaves taste of spicy licorice. They are quite strong tasting but the flavour is wonderful with any grilled food. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Thyme

silver thyme Thymus vulgaris 'Argenteus' lemon thyme Thymus citriodorus Doone Valley lemon thyme Thymus pulegioides 'Doone Valley'

Hardy Perennial - sun (will tolerate light partial shade) well-drained fertile soil.

Thyme leaves and flowers are quite strong tasting but the flavour is wonderful with any grilled food. Lemon thyme smells quite lemonlike and is an excellent garnish for seafood, chicken or pork. The leaves can be dried at the end of the season to be used in herbes de provence but the flavour is reduced drastically with drying.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena

Lemon Verbena

Aloysia triphylla (Lippia citriodora)

Tender Perennial - plant in a pot in the sun (will tolerate light partial shade) sheltered from wind, neutral soil (not acidic). Night temperatures shouldn't go much below 10C. Water when soil has just dried. Be careful that the soil doesn't get waterlogged.

When night temperatures start to fall below 10C, bring the pot indoors for the winter. Keep it in bright light and water sparingly when the soil is dry. Watch for mildew. In spring when night temperatures are above 10C, bring the pot outside. Veil it from the sun for the first two weeks to gradually reintroduce it to the intense outdoor light. (I use an old lace curtain.)

Lemon verbena flowers and leaves are edible. They have a distinct lemon flavour. Use them as a substitute to lemongrass in Asian food. Try not to take too many fresh leaves over the winter as the plant is in dormancy.


basil . bay laurel . chervil . chives . coriander . dill . garlic . lavender . lemongrass . sweet marjoram . mint . nasturtium . parsley . rosemary . sage . savory . tarragon . thyme . verbena



References: Cook's Thesaurus: Herbs . Gernot Katzer's Spice (and Herb) Pages . Richter's Herbs



herb bouquets for garnish . a few herb labels . links to cookery resource sites . our recipe index




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ejm (aka llizard) 2002, 2007, 2009
Toronto Ontario Canada

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