Of the 30 well-known types of herbs, approximately 12 are generally used in cookery. Herbs may be used fresh, but the majority are dried so as to ensure a continuous supply throughout the year. The leaves of herbs contain an oil that gives the characteristics smell and flavor.
healthy herbs
Basil, black pepper, parsley flakes and oregano
Herbs have no food value but are important from a nutritive point of view in aiding digestion because they stimulate the flow of gastric juices. The most commonly used herbs are described below.
  • Basil: Basil is a small leaf with a pungent flavor and sweet aroma. Used in raw or cooked tomato dishes or sauces, salads and lambs dishes.
  • Bay leaves: Bay leaves are the leaves of the bay laurel or sweet bay trees or shrubs. They may be fresh or dried, and are used for flavoring many soups, sauces, stews, fish and vegetables dishes, in which case they are usually included in a faggot of herbs (bouquet garni).
  • Borage: This is a plant with furry leaves and blue flowers that produces a flavor similar to cucumber when added to vegetables and salads.
  • Chervil: Chervil has small, neatly shaped leaves with a delicate aromatic flavor. It is best used fresh, but may also be obtained in dried form. Because of its neat shape it is often used for decorating chaud-froid work. It is also one of the ‘fines herbs’ – the mixture of herbs used in many culinary preparations.
  • Coriander: A member of the parsley family, coriander is one of the oldest flavorings used by man. It is both as an herb and a spice. The leaves have a distinctive pungent flavor.
  • Dill: Dill has feathery green-grey leaves and is used in fish recipes and pickles.
  • Fennel: Fennel has feathery bright green leaves, and a slight aniseed flavor, and is used for fish sauces, meat dishes and salads.
  • Lemon grass: Lemon grass is a tall plant with long, spear-shaped grass-like leaves with a strong lemon flavor. A natural companion to fish, also used in stir-fries and salads.
  • Lovage: Lovage leaves have a strong celery-like flavor; when finely chopped they can be used in soup, stews, sauces and salads.
  • Marjoram: Marjoram is a sweet herb that may be used fresh in salads and in pork, fish, poultry, cheese, egg and vegetable dishes; when dried, it can be used for flavoring soups, sauces, stews and certain stuffings.
  • Mint: There are many varieties of mint. Fresh sprigs of mint are used to flavor peas and new potatoes. Fresh or dried mint may be used to make mint sauce or mint jelly for serving with roast lamb. Another lesser-known but excellent mint for the kitchen is apple mint. Chopped mint can be used in salads.
  • Oragano: Oregano has a flavor and aroma similar to marjoram but stronger. It is used in Italian and Greek-style cooking, in meats, salads, soups, stuffings, pasta, sauces, vegetables and egg dishes.
  • Parsley: Parsley is probably the most common herb in Britain; it has numerous uses for flavoring, garnishing and decorating a large variety of dishes. Flat-leaf, or French, parsley is also available.
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is a strong fragrant herb that should be used sparingly, and may be used fresh or dried for flavoring sauces, stews, salads and for stuffings. It can also be sprinkled on roasts or grills of meat, poultry and fish during cooking and on roast potatoes.
  • Sage: Sage is a strong, bitter, pungent herb that helps the stomach to digest rich fatty meat; it is therefore used in stuffings for duck, goose and pork.
  • Samphire: Sampire is not really an herb, but the leaves of a low branched bush found on salt flats. It has a mellow grassy sweetness that complements fish and shellfish dishes.
  • Tarragon: This plant has a bright-green, attractive leaf. It is best used fresh, particularly when decorating chaud-froid dishes. Tarragon has a pleasant flavor and is used in sauces, one well-known example being sauce bĂ©arnaise. It is one of the fines herbs and, as such, is used in omelets, salads, fish, and meat dishes.
  • Thyme: Thyme is a popular herb in most parts of the world especially in UK; it is used fresh or dried for flavoring soups, sauces, stews, stuffings, salads and vegetables.
  • Fine herbs
  • This is a mixture of fresh herbs – usually chervil, tarragon and parsley that is referred to in many classical cookery recipes.
  • Other herbs; Balm, bergamot, fennel, savory, sorrel, tansy, lemon thyme and other herbs are used in cookery, but on a much smaller scale.
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