When it comes to cooking, you could have all the right measurements and all the right equipment, but without using herbs, you’ll never experience the full range of flavours that fresh, local ingredients can bring to the table. Here’s our brief guide to how to bring freshness, colour and flavour to your food by using common kitchen herbs.
Fantastic herbs and what to do with them
Dorset has one of the most diverse landscapes and warm climates in the UK which makes it perfect for plantlife, including herbs! Many herbs can be grown on a windowsill so they are always on hand, here are some of the most common herbs and what to do with them.
Mint compliments many different flavours and goes well with a whole host of dishes as well as being handy for brewing a quick cup of tea. Use it in sweet and savoury dishes.
This one isn’t for everyone, some people are genetically predisposed to hating coriander, but for those of us who like it, it is great in Asian dishes and meals that need a warm, spicey flavour. Coriander is sharp, aromatic and fresh and works well to balance saltiness and offset heat.
With its strong flavour and fragrance, rosemary pairs well with meat, fish and tomatoes. With this one, less is more.
Chives have a subtle onion like flavour which works well with sour cream and smoked fish.
Perfect for curries and Italian food, Basil is sweet and citrussy making it great for a wide range of meals as well as cocktails. With this one, tear it rather than chop it – it helps with the flavour and those leaves make a pretty garnish too.
Add this to slow cooked meals for a floral, savoury flavour. It works well in everything from soups, stews and risottos. You can even add it to dough to give bread and Yorkshire Puddings a whole new flavour.
As well as being used to ward away evil spirits, it is also super tasty. Use it in stuffing or sausages. It also works well with cheeses.
There are several different types of Parsley and depending on the one you use will depend on the best way to cook it and what to partner it with. Whichever variety you choose, it makes a great garnish and goes well with seafood.
This one has a strong flavour so only use it sparingly, it works well in sauces and dressings – why not chop it up and toss it with roast chicken for a tasty twist on a classic.
Most often used with fish, Dill has a delicate taste and is a great way to add freshness to seafood and earthy vegetables.
When to use them
Before adding in herbs, think about what you are making and what you want to achieve. Anything hardy and woody should be added at the beginning of the dish to allow them to really infuse. Softer, fresher tasting herbs should be added right at the end.
Those of us with busy lifestyles who don’t have the time to spend tending herbs can buy dried varieties from delis and farmshops as well as larger food stores. While fresh is hard to beat, dried herbs are great to add to sauces, marinades or to sprinkle over veg before roasting. Whether you go fresh or dry, there are plenty of ways they can take your cooking to the next level.
How to store herb
Did you know you can freeze most herbs? If you’re not keen on growing your own to use as you see fit, you can freeze any remaining herbs by chopping them and adding to an ice cube tray with olive oil or water. Then you can simply pop them straight from the freezer into the dish as it is cooking.
When it comes to soft herbs, remove them from the packaging and place them upright in a jug with a little water in the fridge. Woody herbs should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper and kept in the salad drawer of your fridge – this will keep them fresher for longer!
Want some recipes to get started on your journey into using herbs? You can find a whole host of recipes here.