Growing herbs in your own back yard is a fun and easy activity to try. Herbs are just plants that have been used for more uses that just eating them.
Some have fragnant oils that smell amazing, others taste great and help flavour food but there are so many uses for these simple to grow plants that they are well worth growing. Here’s a few ideas on how to use them once you have them growing well.
A bouquet garni is simply a bunch of several sprigs of parsley, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf. All tied together with thread.
Sometimes marjoram or tarragon might be added too.
Use your bouquet garni by placing in stocks, soups, stews or casseroles during cooking. The flavours from the herbs will seep into the food, then simply remove the sprigs before eating..
Making a bouquet Garni is simple when you have fresh herbs to hand. You can also make them from dried herbs too by simply placing your tied bundle in mini muslin bags.
Why not premake a jar full to give as a gift to your favourite cook?
FINES HERBES – Or ‘Sprinkles’
This is a mix of herbs again, but this time chopped finely and used sprinkled over food – usually egg dishes like omlettes, frittatas and eggs benedict. The main herbs used include parsley, chives, cherval, and tarragon but you can suit it to taste.
Again, finely chopped herbs are used here. This time mixed with a good quality butter. The herbs chosen for butters are usually strong flavoured varieties such as garlic, thyme, chives, rosemary, and sage.
A tablespoon of chopped herbs to a pack of butter. Beat them together then leave in a dish for a day or so to let the flavour develop.
You can also use the same technique for cream cheese- yum!
Steeping herbs in oil is another easy way to flavour your food and get the best from herbs. Olive oil, sunflower oil etc are great oils for stir frying, marinading and salad dressing, but why not give them a kick by steeping some herbs in them for a month. Just strain out the herbs and bottle up. The most common herbs for this use are fennel, garlic, chilli marjoram, basil and sage.
It used to be common practice to make sweet smelling muslin bags to pop inside your pillow slip. These soothing little bags are still of use though and should make a come back in my opinion.
Pop some of your favourite calming herbs into a little muslin bags and sooth yourself to sleep. Lavendar is the most obvious sleep indusing herb but you can pop anything in the little bag. Why not use them to hang in your wardrobe to keep your clothes bug free. Rosemary works a treat to keep cheeky moths out of my clothes.
Most of us drink tea these days but have you tried drinking herb tea? A hot drink made from steeping herbs in boiling water. They are super good for you and depending what herbs you choose to use, can have an effect on your health.
Try 2 to 3 tablespoons of peppermint to sooth a sore tummy for example.
Just pour boiling water over your chosen leaves and leave to steep before you drain and drink (around 5 to 15 minutes) I like to use a small caffetiere which makes draining the leaves much easier.
Why not make your own flavoured vinegars for salads or cooking. Simple bruise a few sprigs of your favourite herbs by scrunching them up and pop them in a jar and cover with warm vinegar. Cover it tightly and place the jar somewhere warm for 2 to 3 weeks. Give it a little shake occassionally, then strain the vinegar into a pretty bottle. Use mint, dill, rosemary, chervil, basil, and thyme.
Simply a mixture of herbs chopped together. Usually used on meat or fish dishes and include strong herbs like sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary.
A fresh green italian sauce used for pasta, steak and chicken dishes. Pesto has parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil as well as 2 herbs such as basil and garlic. Blend these together in a mixer to make a bright green sauce with incredible flavour.
A non edible use for your garden herbs but a worth while activity. Take a mixture of flowers and leaves from your herbs and lay them out on a mesh rack inside your airing cupboard for up to 3 weeks turning over frequently until they are crunchy in texture. Place them in bowls around the house to enjoy the fragnant oils. When the smells die out use spices and essential oils to top up your pot pourri to extend the use of it.
SALAD LEAVES AND FLOWERS
Flowers from herbs are incredibly pretty and useful in salads and cold dishes. Rose, nasturtium, chives and pot marigolds to name a few are tasty and pretty on a plate. Make sure you check whether flowers are edible from each plant before use.
This one has a funny name that my grandmother told me about, but it simply refers to a posy made from fragrant herbs with a flower in the centre. Usually a rosebud surrounded with violets or pinks. Then there is an outter ring of greens such as lavender geraniums, and thyme and all tied up with ribbon.
This is a wonderful gift for a housewarming or similar. Simply make a lager version full of pose and include a wide range of herbs that can be used in cooking so the home owner can hang it to dry out in their kitchen and use as they make their meals in there new home.
Medicines have been made from herbs for many centuaries. All over the world people have foraged for or grown herbs to help all sorts of ailments. Check out this post from Mind Body Green to find out how to make your own.
Rosemary is associated with hair re-generation and strengthening as well as getting rid of dandruff. Simply boil a handful of rosemary leaves with two cups of water, then let the water cool.
Rinse your hair with this liquid regularly to help your head.
So there you are some super simple uses for the herbs you grow in your garden. Remeber to try out new things and find new uses for these special plants.
You can also check out these posts to help you start your garden right: