Herbs, in general, refer to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant. The herbs may be used either fresh or dried. These plants can be used for their aromatic or savory properties in food, flavoring, medicine or fragrances.
In this guide, we will stick to the health, nutrition and culinary uses of the herb. Typically in cooking, herbs are distinguished from spices. Spices are produced from other parts of the plant rather than leaves or flowers.
Spices are usually distributed dried. They can be taken from seeds, bark, stems, berries, roots, and fruits.
Culinary herbs are also distinguished from vegetables in that they are generally not used for substance in food. Just like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor and aroma to foods.
Herbs Used in Cooking
Culinary herbs can be used in cooking in two major forms. These are fresh from the garden or bought from stores dried or fresh. When Fresh, once picked they do not have a long lifespan. It is therefore advised to pick them as close to the time of cooking as possible.
Fresh herbs can keep for two to three days if not refrigerated. If refrigerated a week or slightly more will suffice.
Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor and must be used sparingly. In dried and packaged form, they can keep for several months up to a year. They are best added to foods towards the end of cooking for best flavor results.
They can be used in cooking in chopped form, as a garnish in salads and other dishes including entrees and desserts. They can be used to flavor herbal teas as well.
They can also be used natural tied in a bundle or wrapped in a bouquet garni to impart flavor and later discarded. This method is more popular when making stocks, soups, and sauces.