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Growing Fresh Herbs

How to Grow and Cook with Fresh Herbs

Growing Fresh Herbs

There is no replacement for the flavor of fresh herbs - and no better way to keep fresh herbs on-hand than to grow them yourself. With Spring just underway, now is a great time to get planting and start planning all the wonderful recipes you can prepare with your fresh herbs! Herbs are easy to grow and require very little space - whether you have a spacious garden or only a small sill for a window box, you can easily grow and enjoy fresh herbs for your cooking.

Why Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs?

The best reason to grow your own fresh herbs is that you know they are - well - really, really fresh. Unlike buying herbs at the market that may have been sitting out for several days, you can harvest your own herbs right when you need them ensuring they are at the peak of flavor. The other big benefit is savings: fresh herbs can be pretty pricey and they don't have a very long shelf life. While you can buy one parsley plant and have fresh parsley available all season, you would need to buy a new bunch of parsley every week to keep it stocked from the store.

Getting Started with Your Fresh Herb Garden

You can either grow your herbs right in the soil if you have some space in your garden or yard, or they grow quite well in a window box. You should always choose a spot where the plants will have plentiful access to sunlight. Herbs can be grown either from seed or from seedlings. It's still early enough in Spring to start from seed, but we find that planting seedlings speed up the process nicely. Lastly, you just have to choose which herbs to plant. You can get super-fancy and plant all different varieties, but we like to keep it simple and focus on the ones that we use the most.

Here are our picks for the herbs we're planting in our garden and some of the dishes where we'll put them to use:

#1 - Parsley
Amazingly versatile, we use fresh chopped parsley in almost all of our recipes as a finishing garnish. This is also delicious as one of the main ingredients in fresh tabbouleh.

#2 - Basil
We love Italian food. Do we need to even say more about basil? Basil is delicious in a simple summer tomato mozzerella salad, on a homemade pizza, or in a rich pesto sauce.

#3 - Cilantro
Cilantro is a love it or hate it type of herb, and we are definitely on the love it side of that equation. Fresh salsa is incomplete without it, and it's one of the secrets in our crab cake recipe (after the crab, of course).

#4 - Mint
Mint can be a bit overwhelming in some dishes although it's used excellently in many Indian and Eastern sauces. We have to grow it in our garden each year just for mojitos and fresh mint tea.

#5 - Chives
A delicious garnish for so many foods: omelets, chicken, and our favorite - creamy mashed potatoes.

#6 - Dill
The perfect complement for grilled salmon, fresh dill is another one of the secret ingredients in our crab cakes.

Good luck getting your own herb garden started!

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