Fresh herbs can make even the most basic of meals into luxurious cuisine. We are regularly running out to the garden at the last moment to pick herbs to garnish pizza, pasta, salads, stir fry etc, and it’s one of the best parts about living on a farm. We hope that you’ll love to use fresh herbs as often as we do, and when you have a bounty, learn to dry or freeze the rest and use them as a tonic to the winter blues in the form of tisanes or in cooking and baking.
Keep mint, basil and lemon balm out of the fridge, either in a plastic bag somewhere cool on your countertop, or re-cut and plunked in water, where they will still wilt but last for several days. All other herbs should be kept in a closed plastic bag or container in the crisper, where they will last for about 1-2 weeks depending on how cold your fridge is. We recommend taking the elastic band off to encourage some air flow between stems. Wash your herbs right before you use them, not before storing them! If you find some limp herbs in the bottom of your crisper, they make an excellent addition to a freezer bag of veg peelings that you can make into stock one day.
TYPES WE GROW
Basil (Prospera, Thai)
Stunning whole-leaf addition to pizza, or blended into pasta sauce. We love to blend it with olive oil into a thick paste and freeze dollops on a cookie sheet to have a couple of tablespoons to drop into winter meals that need livening up. Thai basils run more to the anise flavour, and are best paired with pho, noodles and are particularly divine with eggplant.
Cilantro loses flavour when dried, but the seeds from this plant are coriander, which keep their flavour and add a nutty earth tone to curries and autumnal soups. Chopped cilantro is essential garnish on Asian curries of all varieties, as well as Caribbean and Latin foods. Where coriander is pretty much loved by everyone, people are divided when it comes to cilantro. Hannah is for, Adrienne is against. Poor Adrienne!
Chives (Bawn Family Heirloom)
We grew our chives from seed collected from a large number of quite ancient looking chive plants growing in one of our meadows where an old kitchen garden was located. One June morning while headed to the river with Charlie, we saw masses of the beautiful pink globes of flowers (which make a surprisingly oniony addition to salads and scones), and of course thought immediately about making baked potatoes for lunch that day. We also chop it up with dill and parsley to make herb-packed cream cheese for our morning bagels.
Dill (Hera, Bouquet)
Such an underused herb. Traditionally used in any cold summer dish (pasta salad, potato salad), and indispensable in borscht. Bouquet dill comes with the seed heads, which are stuck in the pickling jar for flavour. You can keep the whole bundle in the fridge but it does take up space so it’s smart to use it up pronto.
A very aromatic perennial herb. Pairs really well with tomatoes and olives, or winter squash, or brown butter (on gnocchi), and keeps its flavour really well when dried.
Parsley (Flat Italian)
So good, so underrated, and so vitamin- and mineral-dense! We love flat leaf parsley, it’s easier to chop and doesn’t get stuck in your teeth as much as it’s curly cousin. Try chimichurri, tabbouleh, or put large quantities of chopped parsley in pasta, with sauteed greens in white wine (a farm favourite, combo is rapini, garlic and leeks).
As essential to Cuban cooking as it is to Italian and Greek foods. Try it with cumin to spice up black beans and rice.
We adore mushrooms, and thyme and mushrooms are a match made in heaven. But thyme has versatile flavour reminiscent of flowers and woods, and can be added to almost any dish without overwhelming it. It's worth the effort to remove the tiny leaves from the stems unless they are supple and green.
Lemon Balm (Common)
Provides a hit of summer sunshine as a winter herbal tea, with similar soothing properties to mind and stomach as peppermint (it’s in the mint family, but smells lemony). Lemon balm has extraordinary medicinal properties that we rely on for chapped skin all winter. If you lean toward the DIY world, make a hydrosol and add it to your lip balms, butters, and deodorants. You can bake with it too! Try this lemon balm bread.