Looking for facts about culinary herbs? Here are a few that you might find interesting.
This article explores some of the most interesting facts about culinary herbs. From their medicinal properties to their flavor profiles, there is a lot to learn about these amazing plants!
If you love making and eating good food, then read on to learn some fun facts about culinary herbs.
– Basil is a member of the mint family and is native to India. It can soothe an upset stomach and was used basil in Medieval times to ward off evil spirits!
This herb grows heartily in the summertime and makes delicious pesto or tomato bruschetta. You can also sprinkle freshly chopped basil over beans, cauliflower, peas, potatoes, and artichokes.
Add fresh basil to your dishes right before serving as heat can take the flavors away.
– Oregano is a type of mint and its name means “joy of the mountain.” Oregano has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, and is high in antioxidants.
Did you know oregano is known as the pizza herb? It’s also popular in Italian, Mexican, Spanish, and Greek cuisines and tastes similar to marjoram but is stronger and not as sweet.
When cooking, add dried oregano at the beginning of cooking or fresh oregano at the end.
Oregano also makes a delicious pesto and can be infused with honey for a sweet and gooey spread.
– Thyme is also from the mint family and is related oregano, basil, and sage. It’s a favorite in the Caribbean, Cajun, Creole, French, Greek, Middle Eastern, and Italian cuisines.
The flavor of thyme and oregano is similar, so if you are out of one, try using the other in your dishes. Also, you’ll want to add thyme at the end of cooking to preserve the original flavors.
When storing thyme, it can go in the refrigerator for up to a week or in airtight containers for up to six months. If you’re growing thyme and want to dry some, just tie a few sprigs together and hang them upside down in a cool, dark location.
Try making your own herb butter using some fresh thyme leaves. Simply add a teaspoon of leaves into a cup with softened butter, and stir. It’s delicious on bread or with polenta, quinoa, or potatoes.
– Sage is a member of the rose family and just the smell of this herb stirs memories of Fall and Thanksgiving for many people.
It is cousins to basil, oregano, and thyme, and pairs with perfectly with pasta, potatoes, stuffing, and winter squash.
Sage helps us digest meat and destroys any bacterial pathogens still lingering in the flesh. Sage is also said to help with blood circulation and memory.
Remember – a little sage goes a long way, so use a light touch when seasoning with it. And this is another herb to add at the end of cooking so the flavors don’t become too intense.
– Rosemary is also from the mint family and is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It’s wonderful to use when grilling, and it’s beautiful in floral arrangements.
This versatile herb is available year-round and makes a great addition to most vegetables, meats and even pumpkin.
Medicinally, rosemary helps with depression, circulation and digestive issues. Add fresh rosemary to your bath with some Epsom salts for an invigorating pick-me-up that will energize you for hours.
It has a refreshing quality that transfers easily between cooking and personal uses. After a long day at the office, a good herbal bath will quickly restore and energize the body, mind, and soul.
Lastly, for a quick and easy recipe, check out my rosemary dipping oil – it’s fabulous!
– Parsley is a member of the Apiaceae family which includes carrots, celery, and fennel.
This popular herb is high in vitamins A, K, and C, and is a good source of iron. Parsley is reputed to improve blood sugar and helps the heart, kidneys, and bones.
Add parsley leaves to soups, stews, salads, and other dishes, and use them as a garnish or decoration for any dish. You can even chew it after a meal to help with digestion and help tame the breath if needed.
The curly or flat-leaf parsley are both used for cooking, though the flat-leaf variety has a more intense flavor than its curly cousin.
– Cilantro is a member of the carrot family, and is popular in many cuisines, including Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Persian.
The Indian cuisine uses the seeds and the Thai cuisine makes the leaves into a delicious green curry paste.
When cooking with cilantro, add it at the end as heat makes its taste fade quickly. Chopped cilantro is wonderful with tacos, spring rolls, soups, salads, some curries, and rice dishes. It also used in most salsas and for making condiment sauces that help tame spicy foods.
Medicinally, cilantro helps digestion and is the perfect addition to beans and bean soups due to its ability to lessen gas issues.
Depending on where you live determines what you call this herb. People often refer to cilantro as coriander and vice versa, so here is a chart that helps explain the differences.
– Chamomile is a member of the daisy family and is named from the Greek word “khamaimelon,” which means “ground apple.”
It is a dried flower and has been used for centuries in teas, medicines, and in cooking. Chamomile imparts a subtle essence to cookies, breads, and even risotto.
Chamomile is famous for its relaxation abilities and helps with menstrual cramps, irritability, and insomnia. A lot of people drink a cup of this wonderful tea before bedtime to help with sleep.
Unfortunately, it’s true as it’s a member of the ragweed family. But if you’re not allergic, then by all means indulge and enjoy its delicious taste in smoothies, vinegar, honey, and more.
– Mint can refer to at least 30 species, including apple, orange, and chocolate mint. But for today, we will stick to spearmint and peppermint herbs.
Because of the high menthol content, peppermint is preferred for medicinal purposes and helps with nausea, indigestion, colic, fevers and migraines. For children’s remedies, people often prefer spearmint because it’s not as minty and is still effective.
Spearmint (aka mint) is a kitchen favorite and is the perfect addition to melon and fruit salads. You can also use it in beverages, carrots, cucumbers, peas, rice, tabbouleh, tomatoes, and chocolate.
For a refreshing water enhancer, add a sprig of freshly picked mint and one or two cucumber slices. This simple duo makes your water absolutely delicious and is very cooling during the hot summer months.
– Lavender is another member of the ever-popular mint family. Its name comes from the Latin word “lavare”, which means “to wash.” The Victorians used lavender to portray purity and devotion, and today the aroma and essential oils of this herb helps with sleep and relaxation.
Most people are aware of its uses in baths, soaps, and other personal uses, but did you know the flowers are edible too?
Lavender pairs perfectly in a salad of arugula, blue cheese, berries, and a honey-lemon viniagrette. In addition, the flowers make a tasty and colorful topping to vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.
Try using the beautiful purple flowers in scones, cookies, sorbets, and ice creams. You can also make a simple syrup from the lavender buds to make lemonades, cocktails, teas, and coffee drinks.
You can create a simple syrup for drinks using equal parts lavender buds, granulated sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an additional 20 minutes, then strain the lavender buds and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator. The syrup can be refrigerated and stored for up to 30 days.
– Dill is a member of the parsley family and gets its name from the Old Norse word “dilla,” which means “to lull.” Dill treats a variety of ailments including indigestion and anxiety.
This herb has a sweet yet earthy taste with notes of licorice and caraway, and is a very popular ingredient for Greek, Indian, Scandanavian, Middle Eastern, and Russian cuisines.
The seeds have a milder flavor and can be fresh, dried, or pickled. It is an essential ingredient in dishes such as dill pickles, cream dill sauce, and dill potato salad. It is a great addition to beans, beets, carrots, spinach, yogurt, and slaws.
– Fennel is from the carrot family and comes from the Latin word “foeniculum” which means “hay.” Fennel has a sweet, anise-like flavor and the bulb has a crunchy texture.
It’s delicious in soups, salads, stews, and sauces, and you’ll find fennel in absinthe and vermouth.
Besides being a tasty culinary herb, fennel is also a medicinal herb. It helps treat colic in infants and increases milk production in nursing mothers.
– Marjoram is from the mint family and comes from the Latin word “maior” which means “larger.” The marjoram plant is also related to oregano, but has a milder flavor. It is native to the Mediterranean and is used to flavor poultry, fish, and vegetables.
Also, this herb helps relieve stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and anxiety.
– Savory is a perennial from the Mediterranean region. Chefs love this herb for its strong, pungent flavor for meats, soups, and stews.
Savory is related to mint and oregano and tastes a little like thyme. It goes well with salads, cooked vegetables, and especially white beans like cannellini and limas.
This herb tastes stronger in the winter and milder in the summer. Medicinally, savory helps with digestive issues, water-retention, and relieves gas. Similarly, savory essential oil helps promote relaxation and eases anxiety.
So as you can see, there are so many fascinating facts about culinary herbs to know! Besides being staples in the kitchen, they truly are “nature’s medicine.”