Herbs: Fresh or Dried?


It is more than a bit embarrassing to admit that my beautiful and much appreciated herb garden is in the same condition as my herb/spice drawer was. As a careful person, I am mystified at how either of these situations occurred. However, my sister Bev and I are fond of saying it is what it is. And, indeed, it is what it is!

Last year, Bev, the Green Gourmet Gardener, www.greengourmetgardener.com, suggested that I might want to try planting a Square Foot Herb Garden. It was such a great idea and easy to do so we kept planting more and more and eventually some things were transplanted to make room for more delicious fruit and vegetables. *Sigh* So, there you have it, the truth.

After cleaning my Spice Space in the kitchen it seems like the natural time to clean our garden space.

If you told me last May that in one year I would step out my back door and pick a beautiful bowl of lovely, aromatic herbs, the answer would have been, at best "you are certainly mistaken" or at worst: "you are sadly delusional". Not sure which was said to my sister, Bev, but let's hope it was the best!

Following her suggestions I went from being a dried herb user to being hooked on fresh and only wish that you could experience the fragrance. The whole kitchen smells like a fragrant bouquet and really jump starts me into the beautiful cooking mode.

You are probably getting a good idea of my favorite flavor profile by now.

The classic Italian Herbs: Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Flat Leafed Parsley are among my favorites. They are packed with flavor for soups, stews, sauces and are easy to combine (just taste, taste, taste as you cook).


Society Garlic is a gorgeous addition to a natural garden with long, delicate edible stems (a very soft garlic flavor) hosting delicate lavender flowers that sway in a summer's breeze and add a romantic feel to the garden. (This is one of my favorite finishing garnishes).

I never cease to be amazed when I step out onto the back patio at the lovely fragrance that assaults my olfactory senses. It is the lovely perfume of my Rosemary. It grows with minimal care and is a perennial in warm weather climates.

Ina Garten's (the Barefoot Contessa) Rosemary looks like a small tree; mine looks like a bush. It was started with just a few sprigs from the local nursery.Rosemary adds delightful flavor to soups, stews and pasta sauces and as for me, I wouldn't be without it!

Other must have fresh Italian Herbs are Thyme, with its tiny delicate leaves, Flat Leaf Parsley, tastier than it's curly cousin, and, of course, Oregano with it's deep kind of smokey flavor.

BASIL ROSEMARY THYME

Dried Herbs will flavor your food, but as the visual shows, you will not achieve the same brightness that you will gain from the fresh. If the fresh herb is not available, do not hesitate making the dish you have planned with dried. Smell it (it does lose flavor over time) and then add to your recipe as required. Whenever possible, use Fresh.

And, don't hesitate growing your own, in your kitchen, near your back door, or as I have as a patio border. For those of you with more garden space, there is no problem, just find a bright, sunny area.

We are in the process of building some new "square foot" herb garden boxes, so I'll show you what I'm doing step by step.

Can't urge you enough to visit www.greengourmetgardener.com, where you can learn the simple steps to a gourmet garden of your own!

Check back frequently for more exploration of herbs and spices!


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