While dried herbs are a practical component of many modern-day kitchens, many food enthusiasts agree that nothing can take the place of fresh herbs. Whether you’re an avid cook or simply want to incorporate fresh ingredients into your meals, home-grown herbs are great for enhancing the flavor and nutrition of your diet. Here are seven herbs you should consider cultivating.
A common ingredient in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, this herb has a characteristic taste of mild pepper and licorice. Joe Leech, MS, contributor to Healthline.com, explains that besides adding exotic flavor to soups and stir fries, holy basil has some significant health benefits. For one thing, it boosts the immune system and helps fight bacterial infections. This herb has also been used to treat anxiety and depression, as well as to help reduce blood sugar levels.
For an alternative to using chile pepper in a recipe, chef Marc Sheehan of Loyal Nine recommends an herb called akatade. Sometimes referred to as water pepper or smartweed, this herb has a spicy flavor with a faint note of cinnamon, making it perfect for seasoning meat or as a garnish for plated meals.
Known for its aromatic fragrance and often used in Mediterranean dishes, rosemary has been heralded for its ability to fight cancer cells and improve memory, explains Rebecca Toback, contributor with Health.com. The University of Northumbria performed a study that surveyed two groups of people. The first group took a memory test in a rosemary-scented room, while the second group took the same test in a room that lacked the rosemary scent. The first group performed significantly better on the memory test than the second group.
Sheehan also suggests salad burnet, an herb that tastes a lot like cucumber. Whether you add it to roasted meats or incorporate it into a salad mix, this vigorous herb is easy to grow. It also replenishes itself quickly, even if you regularly snip off samples to include in your culinary concoctions.
This herb has a long history of acting as a quintessential ingredient in aromatherapy and folk medicine. According to Leech, peppermint has been helpful in reducing nausea and relieving IBS symptoms such as bloating and pain. Try sprinkling a few leaves of this herb into your hot cocoa or a mint julep cocktail.
Whether you use it as a garnish to lend an upscale vibe to your plated dinners or as a main ingredient in a dish like tabbouleh, this herb is an essential for any health enthusiast. Not only is it high in vitamins A and C, but Toback explains that it also provides half of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K if you consume just 1 tablespoon of it.
This herb lends a delicious flavor to sauces and stocks as well as salads. If you like fennel, mint and basil, Sheehan says anise hyssop should please your palate. It’s also as visually appealing as it is hearty in taste, which makes it a perfect garnish for fancy meals.
Elevate your culinary experiences by growing one or more of these herbs at home. But be warned — you might get so addicted to the unparalleled flavors of fresh herbs that you never go back to using dried ones.