If you need help identifying the herbs in your pack, please refer to this diagram as well as the pictures that follow.
Rosemary has an interesting history as it relates to health benefits. Back in ancient Greece, philosophers and students wore rosemary garlands on their heads to stimulate the brain and improve their memory. Rosemary contains a compound called borneol that is thought to increase blood flow and generally stimulate the circulatory system thereby increasing blood flow to the heart and brain. If this is true, it makes sense that one may have better brain function with enhanced blood flow and oxygenation to the brain!
Herbs are a great way to add flavor to your food and can really elevate a dish or recipe to the next level by enhancing other flavors it may accompany. Most of the time we think of herbs as something we add in small portions to give just a little extra flavor or add background flavor. An example of this is when you add herbs to the pot when making stock, broth or braised dishes. In these preparations, herbs are often put in as whole stems or bundles. They are used to impart flavor and then removed before using or serving. Other times herbs are used as a garnish, added just before serving with the purpose of complementing the dish. Examples of this include adding a little fresh parsley to a bowl of chicken soup or a plate of pasta or perhaps you add a little fresh basil to a pizza after it comes out of the oven. Beyond these small, complementary applications, I would also encourage you to think of herbs as vegetables. For example, add coarsely chopped herbs to vegetable and grain salads in larger quantities where they are one of the main ingredients. Vietnamese cuisine is a great example of food where herbs are used in greater quantities more like a vegetable. Another good example of this type of application is Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad, which is a combination of bulgur, tomatoes and lots of fresh parsley and mint.
Cooking flavorful food does not have to be complicated or time-consuming, and neither does raising your own herb garden! Anyone, of any level of culinary or gardening skill, can learn to feed themselves healthy delicious food if they approach cooking and basic gardening with an open mind and a willingness to learn. You do have to invest a little time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be terribly complicated and it’s definitely nothing to be afraid of! In her book The Homemade Kitchen, Alana Chernila says “Fresh herbs will take whatever you create in the kitchen and make it better.”
We hope you enjoy growing your own herbs and find interesting and delicious ways to make use of them throughout the year. They really are a simple way to brighten up your landscape as well as your meals and the benefits they offer go beyond the flavor.