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Let's Eat: Just add bacon.

Herbs by on Jul 20, 2011 | Posted in: Food

Herbs are the leaves of aromatic plants that are used primarily to add flavor to foods. Aroma is a good indicator of quality of both fresh and dried herbs. They should always have even color, healthy looking leaves and stems, and no wilting or brown spots, sun burns, or pest damage. Fresh herbs should be minced or cut in chiffonade as close to service time as possible. They are usually added to a dish towards the end of the cooking time. For uncooked preparations, fresh herbs should be added well in advance or serving. In general, herbs should be stored loosely wrapped in damp paper towels and refrigerated. It is a good idea to label the herbs so that they are easy to locate. If desired, the wrapped herbs can then be placed in plastic bags to help retain moisture and reduce wilting and discoloring.

Basil has small to large, oval, pointed leaves that can be green or purple. The leaves are delicate, pungent, and licorice-like in flavor. Some varieties include Opal, Lemon, and Thai basil. It is commonly available dried. Basil is used as flavoring for sauces, dressings, infused oils, and vinegars. It is used in pesto sauces. Basil is popular in Mediterranean cuisines.
The bay leaf (Laurel leaf) is smooth, green, and oval. They are very aromatic and are commonly available dried. They are used as flavoring for soups, stews, stocks, sauces, and grain dishes.
Chervil has small, curly leaves that are green and have a delicate texture and anise flavor. They are also available dried. Chervil is a component of “fine herbs” and often used as a garnish.
Chives are long, thin, and bright green. They have a mild onion flavor. Chives are used as flavoring salads and cream cheese. It is a component of “fine herbs” and often used as a garnish.
Cilantro (Chinese parsley or Coriander) is similar in shape to flat-leaf parsley. It has green, delicate leaves and a fresh, clean flavor. Cilantro is used as flavoring for salsa and uncooked sauces.
Curry leaves are small to medium in size with a pointed oval shape and dark green color. It has a mild, aromatic flavor. Its obvious uses include curry and stir fry.
Dill has long, feather-like leaves that are green. Dill has a very distinct flavor. Dill can also be found dried. It is used as flavoring for salads, sauces, stews, and braises.
Lemongrass is a pale yellow green. It has long blades with a rough surface. It is used as flavoring for soups, stocks, stir-fries, or steamed preparations.
Majoram has small, pale green oval leaves that have a mild flavor similar to oregano. It is most commonly found dried. IT is most often used as flavoring for lamb and vegetable dishes.
Mint has pointed, textured leaves that are pale to bright green. The leaf size and strength varies with type. Varieties include Peppermint, Spearmint, and Chocolate mint. Mint is used for flavoring sweet dishes, sauces, and beverages. It is used as a garnish for desserts. Mint jelly is a common accompaniment to lamb (I prefer a mint pesto).
Oregano has small, oval leaves that are pale green. It has a pungent flavor. Mexican and Mediterranean varieties are available. Oregano is commonly found dried. It is used as flavoring for tomato-based dishes.
Parsley can have either curly or flat leaves. Both are bright green with scalloped edges and very clean tasting. Flat-leaf parsley is also known as Italian parsley. It is also commonly available dried. Parsley is used as flavoring for sauces, stocks, soups, and dressings. It is a component of “fine herbs” or used as a garnish. It is also used in bouquet garni and sachet d’epices.
Rosemary has pine needle-shaped leaves on woody stems. It has a grayish, deep green color and a strong pine aroma and flavor. It is commonly available dried. Rosemary is used as flavoring for grilled foods and marinades. It is popular in Mediterranean cuisine. The branch-like stems can be used as skewers.
Sage has thin, oval, velvety, grayish-green leaves. Sage has a musty flavor. It is commonly available dried, both crumbled and ground. It is used as flavoring for stuffing, sausage, and stews.
Savory has dark green, soft, fuzzy, oblong leaves. It is commonly available dried. Savory is used as flavoring for pates and stuffing. It is also used to make poultry seasonings.
Tarragon has thin, delicate, pointed, dark green leaves and has an anise flavor. It is commonly available dried. Tarragon is used as flavoring for Bearnaise sauce and is a component of “fine herbs.”
Thyme has very small leaves on a woody stem. Thyme has a deep green color. Some varieties include Garden thyme, Lemon thyme, and Wild thyme. It is commonly available dried. Thyme is used as flavoring for soups, stocks, sauces, stews, braises, and roasted items. It is used in bouquet garni and sachet d’epices.

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