The inside story about herbs…

by Kyla Van Heerden

When it comes to herbs, delicate herbs are always best when used fresh, like parsley, tarragon, cilantro, chives, mint and dill. To maximise the flavour of herbs, chop them as finely as possibleso that more oils are released and the more fragrant the herb will become. Herbs like parsley and cilantro should be chopped right before use because they lose their aroma quickly.

Herbs to use with certain meats

Beef – rosemary, parsley, sage and basil

Chicken – tarragon, basil, oregano, and coriander

Pork – sage, rosemary and thyme

Lamb – rosemary, oregano, basil, mint, sage and thyme

Fish – oregano, thyme, fennel, and dill

Herbs may be added near the end of cooking for more distinct flavours, or at the beginning for more blended flavours. Ground spices and herbs release their flavours readily so in dishes like stews, it’s best to add these near the end of the cooking time to minimize the “cooking off” of flavours.

Stems or no stems?

Almost every recipe tells you to pick the leaves and trash the rest. The truth is that the stems are packed with flavour and shouldn’t go to waste.

Preservation: Dry or fresh?

Drying herbs doesn’t always capture the flavours well and for herbs with a higher moisture content like mint, parsley or chives, dehydration may not be an effective way for preservation.Freezing herbs is also fast and easy and retains much of the taste, smell and nutrients found in fresh herbs. 

Herbs in olive oil

You can preserve fresh herbs in olive oil for up to three months in your fridge, enjoying the same freshly picked flavours.

Mixing herbs

Oregano blends well with basil, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, mint, parsley and thyme.Rosemary goes well with garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.

Herbs for the BBQ

Herbs tend to burn off fast, so it’s best to wet them and add them to your fire which will prolong the smoking.

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