Herbs are the edible and aromatic leaves of some varieties of plants. They are most often used for culinary purposes but are traditionally used for medicinal and religious purposes as well. Fresh herbs enhance foods by revealing strong and vibrant flavors to all kinds of dishes from around the world. In addition, fresh herbs contain more antioxidants than some fruit and vegetables.
Some of the most popular herbs are:
Mint is most commonly associated with sweet treats but this herb also lends its cooling peppery bite to plenty of savory dishes from the Middle East and North Africa. There are about 25-30 varieties of mint. All mints contain menthol, which gives it its noticeable cooling characteristic. Fresh mint is a perfect addition to summer-fresh salads, or to liven up a sauce, or to brew a fragrant tea. The cooling flavor is also used to temper spicy curries.
A close relative to mint, basil is a delicate herb that can be used whole, chopped, crushed into a paste, or dried; though it loses much of its aromatic properties when dried. It is most commonly used raw or when finishing cooked preparations as heat alters the flavor and color of the herb. There are two main types of basil: Sweet and Asian. Sweet basil pairs naturally with tomatoes and can be used with almost every type of meat or seafood. Asian basil has a more distinct anise flavor and is often used in soups, stews, stir fries and curry paste.
Rosemary is also a member of the mint family. It is a green, pungent herb, with a combination of a hint of both mint and ginger and has a wonderful smell. Rosemary leaves can be used both fresh and dried for long cooking in soups, meats, stews or sauces. Because the flavor is so strong, it is best to add rosemary sparingly at first and more if needed.
Thyme is one of the most popular herbs in American and European cooking. It can be paired with nearly any kind of meat, poultry, fish or vegetable. Thyme is also considered beneficial for the treatment of sore throats, infected gums, headaches, coughs and colds.
Tarragon has slender stems and glossy green leaves. The herb has a bitter, peppery, anise-like flavor. This aromatic herb enhances the flavor of egg, chicken and fish dishes and is also used as a basis for salad dressings. Tarragon is used in many vinaigrettes, mustards and teas.
Another member of the mint family, oregano is native to the Mediterranean region and central Asia. It has oval, pointy green leaves and tubular flowers. It is the leaves that are used in cooking. It is an aromatic herb and has a peppery taste. In some countries, oregano is considered as a primarily medicinal plant, useful for relieving coughs and fever.
If you are interested in another variety of herb not listed, please inquire.