Herb Harvest

by Daisy on 07/30/2014

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I can’t get enough of certain herbs. One of my absolute favorites is thyme (right foreground). I love the flavor, and I love that it has such depth and pungency; it holds up to slow simmering while is also perfection in uncooked preparations like cold pasta salad and salad dressing.

My only regret with thyme is how hard it is to grow enough. Unlike fast-growers like basil, thyme takes its time. The leaves are so tiny, too, once dried it takes a huge mound of thyme stems to produce even a small amount of leaves. Another thyme-ely regret is how much webworm also loves thyme. I’m forever picking the webs and larvae from the tangle of thyme leaves.

Also pictured above in the left of the photograph is stevia. I’m not sure how I feel about stevia. It has a strong sweetness, but also a distinct aftertaste that takes getting used to. I’ve added it to herb tea, and it wasn’t my favorite, but I don’t prefer sweet tea anyway so that may explain my dislike in that case. I’m planning to dry some and experiment with it to find out the best way to use it. Please let me know your favorite uses for stevia.

Also in the picture at the top is an oregano I grew from seed this spring. It’s zaatar oregano from Fedco Seeds. I was looking for the thymbra spicata variety of zaatar, a Lebanese favorite, but couldn’t locate a source. I love the blend of zaatar made up of sesame seeds, sumac, and thymbra spicata. Cannot be beat sprinkled on hummus or just about anything, really.

And more lavender. I wish lavender grew here like it grows in some parts of the world, huge, round clumps of it, in rows and rows. I have to make do with a scattering of blooms on a handful of sparse plants, but I love every blossom.

What are your favorite herbs and how do you like to use them?


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith C July 31, 2014 at 4:56 am

Being from Texas, I LOVE cilantro! I use it in salsa and pico of course, but I love it in tuna. I call it Puerto Rican Tuna salad (because I got the recipe from a Puerto Rican woman.) In a can of well drained tuna add the zest and juice of one very juicy lime, a hand full (or to taste) of finely chopped cilantro and a tablespoon of Mayo (not Miracle Whip). Mix well and enjoy. This is best a little on the dry side on crackers.

Sallie July 31, 2014 at 5:50 am

fave herbs: Thyme and Curley Parsley. And of course to add to my flat breads Rosemary . I know I spelled it wrong. You get the message.

Cynthia C July 31, 2014 at 7:17 am

I love dill. Soooo yummy in sausage in the morning. I also use tons of rosemary, but more in the winter. Much of my best basil has gone to flower, so I ripped it out. Peppermint is also flowering. The butterflies lke it….can I still use it? My oregano too…usable?

Daisy July 31, 2014 at 7:53 am

Judith–I’m going to try that tuna recipe. I love cilantro, too, and only wish it didn’t bolt so fast. Even slo-bolt cilantro is too fast for me.

Daisy July 31, 2014 at 7:57 am

Sallie–I get you. Parsley is an underrated herb. Love rosemary.

Kristen July 31, 2014 at 8:10 am

I am a fellow thyme lover! With patience, you can propigate it during the growing season. Water heavily then press a couple of long viny-ish stems into the soil a bit and place a small rock on top to secure in place. Once the new section roots, carefully snip from the mother stem and gently replant trying to preserve as many of the new tiny roots as possible.

Daisy July 31, 2014 at 9:43 am

Kristen–Great tip. Never too much thyme!

Cinnamon Vogue July 31, 2014 at 10:18 am

Personally I feel Thyme is an odd little herb. It’s not versatile enough. Thyme has an ORAC value 27,426 when fresh and 157,380. So it looks like it’s best consumed dry and not fresh. Who would have thunk that? 🙂

Agree with you on the Stevia. That after taste ruins any drink, especially a high quality tea. Real sugar for example adds to the taste of Cinnamon tea . Add Stevia though, and the taste becomes horrible.

I think my favorite herb is Oregano. Maybe because it is the most powerful anti oxidant herb out there with an ORAC value of 175,295.

Kay in WA July 31, 2014 at 11:04 am

I was gifted a little marjoram plant this spring and wasn’t sure how to use it. I asked a few friends who all (separately) said ON SCRAMBLED EGGS! So, I tried it and yes, they were yummy. Now it’s one of my favorite herbs. I think it’s akin to oregano, but not quite as strong. It’s such a delicate little leaf, but grows heartily in a pot.

Love dill, cilantro, flat leaf parsley…it’s one of my goals to grow more culinary herbs I haven’t tried before.

Anna Judnich July 31, 2014 at 11:30 am

I grow stevia and have used it exclusively for a sweetener 10 years, minus honey in a winter remedy now and then. For the first seven years it was seldom used because I also didn’t care for the taste in many foods. However, I have found that when needing a sweetener stevia becomes MUCH more palatable when I place dried stevia soaked (1/4 cup to two cups water) in room temperature water for 6-10 hours! With the correct sweetness the after taste is no longer an issue, and the flavor has mellowed.

Daisy July 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Anna–I’d like to know more about how you use the stevia soaked in water. How do you use it once it’s soaked and do you use the soaking water, too? I’m fascinated.

Mark July 31, 2014 at 7:20 pm

My fav herb… Does garlic count as a herb? 🙂 otherwise… creeping thyme. I have in my long term garden plan to establish a herb lawn with Roman Chamomile and Creeping Thymes among the choices. Walking barefoot over it and getting the different textures and fragrances as you walk…

Stevia: I grew some from seed last year and have noticed that the level of sweetness and bitterness[aftertaste?] is quite variable from plant to plant. I kept the best to take cuttings from this year, but it has been fairly slow growing so I will wait till next year.

Debbi Powers August 2, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I love thyme, parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary. I have these herbs planted and they have really taken off this year due to our crazy weather. I have curley parsley and regular parsley, greek oregano and regular, lemon thyme, and another type I can’t remember. Last year I brought all of the herbs still left at the end of fall and put them in the oven at 225 for about 20 minutes or until they were dry. Put each in individual containers and we still have dried herbs I’m using along with the new fresh ones this summer. I also have lavender but it is growing just not flowering. I think I could just have a whole garden of herbs and be happy.

Anna J August 3, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I use it in unsweetened grain and nut milks, teas, smoothies, and other beverages. I’m not hampered by the green color. It may also be used to enhance a fresh fruit jam. Just talking about it gives me more ideas, like sweetening a nut / seed / coconut / flax cracker.

Catherine August 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

I really appreciate your posts and hope you can help. I am attempting to grow a small herb garden in my kitchen window. Most of them are doing well. I have had two different attempts at growing dill, but both died. My thyme is also not doing well. It is alive, but is very scraggly and sparse without any signs of new growth. Any suggestions on how to help it? Thanks in advance!

Daisy August 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

Catherine–Despite the prevalence of kitchen window herb gardens on the market, few of them are destined to thrive. They might live, but seldom will they provide enough to use liberally in cooking. The problem is principally lack of light and secondarily inadequate soil. They crave the outdoors. They will do well in containers outdoors, so if you can’t plant them in the ground, you can put them in containers outside. Just make sure their pots are big enough to withstand the increased drying they will experience there–they need enough soil to stay moist at least a couple of days, preferably more, and you will have to monitor the moisture in the soil more closely than indoors. Dill is an annual that has a very short life-span even in the garden; it really wants to go to seed quickly. Under the stressed low-light indoor conditions it probably just gave up. Thyme needs lots of light and needs fairly arid conditions like its native Mediterranean climate. It does very well in containers where it gets good drainage. In a nutshell, my counsel is to try putting them outside if at all possible, in bigger containers. If that’s out of the question, you can try a grow light, but they take up a lot of kitchen space and still aren’t quite the same as the sun. Best of luck, and it isn’t your fault. They just need more light than even a sunny window can deliver.

Catherine August 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Daisy – Thank you! I will definitely give your advice a second try. The herbs started outside on my porch, where they were shaded most of the day. I moved them inside where I could monitor them better. (I keep them inside during the winter also.) Since you suggest they prefer more sunlight, I will move them to a more sunny location. Thank you again.

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