Sunday, February 1, 2015
Herbs to grow if making seasoning blends
I generally write one or two blogs with a list of herbs to try out in your garden. I am still working on my top 10 for 2015, but I thought this list might be useful too.
Thinking about what you want to get out of your herb garden is important to deciding what you should grow. So if what you want is to make seasoning and dressing blends, this list of herbs may be just what you want to consider.
Being able to grow the herbs that you can later use to create herb mixes is the best way to control the flavor of your dishes. Creating custom blends is the preferred choice for so many cooks, especially when you know what flavors and rubs your family likes that most.
So when contemplating your garden contents this year consider adding these herbs to your garden.
Fennel is not an herb that you find in a lot of home gardens, but it is used in a lot of different ways because it has a sweet, slightly licorice flavor. A lot of Italian based seasonings use it, but it is also used in Indian and Asian based blends. Fennel needs very loose soil to grow successfully in and as the bulb expands, you should hill the soil around the bulb. The flavor packed seeds are what you will be using for the spice blends and rubs, but do not neglect trying the leaves in salad dressing and the bulb as a vegetable.
Oregano is a popular meat dish herb, and is used in a lot of Latin American and Mediterranean herb mixes. The way the herb is grown greatly changes the amount of flavor in the leaves. Keep this plant in full sun and well watered, but avoid letting water sit in the soil. Oregano likes poor soil, so don’t plant in rich soil and don’t bother to fertilize it. Pinch leaves off or cut the stems from the plant and hang to dry.
A main ingredient in Pesto and any Italian seasoning, basil is a classic herb that can be used in so many combinations. Add this herb to the garden when the danger of frost has passed and make sure that it is able to get at least 6 hours of sun. Basil does prefer good soil, so a container is ideal and continuous water is needed as well. Harvest the leaves continuously and snip off any flower heads throughout the growing season. Dry them as you go on paper towels. Use the fresh leaves in salads for a nice peppery flavor.
Rosemary is an herb mix ingredient for combinations that are used to cook poultry and red meat. The plant is best added to the garden as a transplant, and can handle being added to poor soil, rock gardens, in a container or as a second planting in a garden. Grow in full sun, allowing for the soil to dry out between waterings for the best flavor results. Harvest stems to dry and then remove leaves to add to mixes. The dried flavor is much more intense than the fresh so use sparingly. Fresh it is wonderful in herbal vinegars and salad dressings.
I cannot give a list without suggesting some thyme. Depending on the flavor profile you want for your dressings and rubs, a common thyme or lemon thyme will give you the best options. Grow outdoors as a perennial herb, or in a container in a sunny spot. It is able to thrive in poor to nutrient rich soil, but needs to be added as a transplant in order to be able to survive in a garden with less than ideal soil. Before the herb begins to flower, snip stems and place in a paper bag to dry. Strip the tiny leaves from the stems and only add the leaves to your mixes. The stems are sharp and tasteless.