Webconsuls Blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three Easy to Grow Herbs to Improve Your Cooking

Pineapple Sage, Sweet Bay and Winter Savory have entered my culinary arsenal and they are here to stay. What has really changed is I now have these plants growing on my patio. Fresh herbs ready to go whenever I need them.

For a couple years now Darin and I have had our own garden. It started very haphazardly with a plant here and a plant there. We are starting to learn what grows as well as what we regularly use. Last year I started to use a lot of our fresh basil. Fresh basil grows easily and having access to fresh basil encouraged me to integrate it into more dishes.

This year I invested more time and energy into the herb category. I claimed all the patio space for herbs. The larger garden is about 3 flights of stairs from the kitchen so I knew if I was going to incorporate fresh herbs into my cooking it better be convenient or it just wasn't going to happen.

Pineapple Sage

My intension was to buy Sage. How happy am I that this was the only Sage option at the nursery. This herb was a great find. Pineapple Sage has a wonderful pineapple scent as well as beautiful flowers which attract hummingbirds.

I am looking forward to trying the herb in lemonade and more recipes.

Sweet Bay
Bay is not new to my herb collection but my Bay was always bought from the grocery store and who knows how long it sat on the shelf in the grocery store, not to mention my cupboard.

Fresh Bay leaves are actually stronger than their dried counterparts. A live Bay plant can replace the dried Bay in your cupboard. It is a beautiful easy to care for plant and can be trimmed into a topiary or bonsai if you are so inclined.

When you need to flavor a broth or soup carefully remove an older leaf. Older leaves contain more flavor. Bay leaves are very tough and sharp and should be removed before serving. I add a Bay leaf to mashed potatoes and it has made all the difference.

Winter Savory

By far the sleeper hit of our whole herb garden is Winter Savory. A delicious addition to most any meat and potato dish. I add Winter Savory to chicken by stuffing the interior cavity with the fresh herbs. I also will gently melt butter with the herb and then baste the chicken with the savory infused butter as it cooks. The smell is like none other.

I have not found this herb in stores. That was a huge surprise once I found what an easy and delicious contribution this herb makes. Maybe your local stores will differ, but I see no other option to enjoying Savory than to grow it myself.

Another very fun thing about herbs is that they all tend to come with a story. Even through I would not have discovered Savory in my local grocery store it isn't to say that Savory hasn't been around for a long time. The Saxon's were great fans of Savory and it is said that "Virgil encouraged the planting of savory near one's beehives because of the wonderful flavor it adds to the honey." Winter Savory Recipes

I would encourage anyone with gardening and cooking aspirations to start with a simple herb garden. Start small and pick a few herbs that you can grow easily and that correspond with dishes you want to make.

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