A culinary collection is most convenient if it is sited near the kitchen, by the back door or even on the windowsill inside or outside the window. It may sound lazy to suggest that it takes too long to wander down the garden to find the necessary herbs for the meal you are cooking, but on days when the weather is bad you will be far more inclined to reach just outside the back door for a piece of foliage than to get wet walking through the garden!
The ten culinary herbs to grow are as follows, but is not necessarily in order of preference!
1. Borage (Borago officinalis)
The leaves add the flavor of cucumber to cold drinks and the flowers are very useful for crystallizing.
2. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
The flowers can be used in salads and the leaves are chopped as a garnish for soups, salads and vegetables. Chives are lovely with cream cheese.
3. Dill (Anethum graveolens)
The leaves are delicious in pickles–particularly with gherkins–and are also good with salmon and new potatoes. They also go well with eggs and potato salads.
4. Basil (Ocium basilicum)
Basil is marvelous with tomato and garlic dishes for that real Mediterranean flavor!
5. Mint (Mentha sp.)
These herbs are invaluable for vinegars, sauces, syrups and jellies. Young leaves are delicious when added to new potatoes, peas and fruit salads and summer drinks.
6. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
This is a very popular culinary herb which can be used as a garnish in large sprigs or chopped finely and sprinkled over a wide variety of dishes. If added to a dish while it is cooking, parsley should not be incorporated in the early stages.
7. Thyme (Thymus sp.)
Another very popular kitchen herb often used in stuffing poultry, thyme is also very useful with vegetables and in jellies.
8. Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is very useful with the fattier meats such as duck or pork. It is particularly good with liver and sausages. Sage and apple jelly is delicious.
9. Marjoram/oregano (Origanum sp.)
Marjoram is delicious with fish and in cream of butter sauces, and oregano is used with pizzas, tomatoes and egg dishes.
10. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil is delicious with vegetables, particularly carrots, and with white fish and chicken. It should always be added towards the end of the cooking time.
The aromatic qualities of dried flowers and leaves are very important. Aromatic herbs have been used in the home for pot-pourris for many centuries to scent a room gently or deodorize unpleasant smells, and the natural antiseptic qualities of some herbs can protect against unwanted insects, whether they be moths, fleas or worse!
These plants look lovely as a collection of fresh flowers or leaves in a posy. You could also plant them around a seating area in the garden so you can enjoy their scents while you relax.
1. Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Once dried, the leaves give a delicious scent to pot-pourris and can also be used to scent ink and writing paper. The essential oil is often used in perfumes. The leaves smell delicious when rubbed.