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Herb Gardens
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Okay gang.  I have had great luck getting my herb garden going.  They are healthy and I suspect I can begin using them.  

 

Questions.  When is it safe to cut leaves off and where to cut?  How do I dry them?  How best to use them, what type of food dishes?  When should I use dry vs. Fresh?  

 

I am a complete novice when it comes to cooking with herbs.  I don't know what tastes well in what food, etc.

 

Currently I have: basil - lime, lemon and cinnamon. Rosemary, Cilantro, Chives, Stevia, hot & spicy oregano and Lavender.  I also have (I forget the name) but it is yellow and orange blooms that taste like pepper.  And I have Swiss Chard, does it have to be as big as in the store to cut and eat? 

 

So I'm finally getting to recognize the taste of these herbs and really have no clue how to use them so I need lots of help with this.  Oh, and as far as the lavender goes, I'd like to use in the bath or just to freshen a room, that sort of thing so any suggestions how to do this would be great.  

 

On a separate note.  I have a Mushroom that just popped up in my front flower Garden.  No mushroom has ever grown there before. Brought me tears.

 

Colleen

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I've got a crop of mushrooms  in my wet backyard right now and I said to the hubs.."look, that's Shroom saying hello, IH". Made me fill up but also made me smile, thinking of how she touched my life in such a positive way. And when I see the bunnies play every afternoon, I think of how she scolded me about how destructive they were and they should be shot! and  I crack up.

 

Herbs.

Where do I start? LOL

I use them daily and I use them freshly snipped (chives, parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, cilantro etc.) and at the end of the season, I dry them

by clipping from the base and tying them and turning them upside down and hanging them to dry. If they are annual herbs, I take out the whole plant

and if they are perennials, I cut to the base of the stalk.  (but not woody perennials--do that in the Spring, ok?)  It's the way my cousin's wife suggested years ago. She was, interestingly, an herbalist at colonial Plymouth Plantation in  Plymouth. Mass. Talk about a green thumb! What a cool job to dress up in costume, tend the herb garden, talk to tourists and enjoy the scents.  I have  huge lavendar and rosemary plants. thanks to her.

 

I use fresh basil in puttanesca, in tomato sauce, on pizza, in pistou and pesto, in caprese salad.

Rosemary works well in a focaccia, and with pork, chicken.

Thyme is great for roasts, in soups, in herbed butters, stews. 

Cilantro is great in anything Mexican or Thai influenced. 

Depends on what you are making.

 

here's a few ideas:

 

"Harvesting and Storing Herbs
The optimum time to harvest herbs is in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, prior to the sun warming their leaves. Handle the herbs gently without bruising or injuring the leaves and stems. The distinctive oils that give herbs their aromas and flavors are volatile and can be destroyed if injured. Select just enough herbs to be used, dried or frozen, the same day. Herbs should look healthy, fresh and clean, with out any type of discoloring.

Since the flavor and aroma of herbs deteriorates quickly after picking, be prepared to use them immediately. If you must store them for a few hours, keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag that is perforated and can breath. When you are ready to use them, wash the herbs gently under cool, but not cold water and pat dry between paper towels.

 

Freezing fresh herbs is an easy way to store them for longer periods of time. Clean the herbs delicately, blot them dry, and remove leaves from the stalks. You can freeze them whole or chopped, packing into freezer safe bags or airtight containers. Chopped herbs that are to be used in soups or stews can be spooned into an ice cube tray, covered with water, and frozen. When you are ready to use the herbs, just remove what you need from the tray and add to the pot."

 

Found here:

 

http://culinaryherbguide.com/usingherbsincooking.html

 

Dang! I wish I had known you could have used the book I had about herbs. I have been giving away books for a few weeks while cleaning out

the house and someone took that one.  :( bummer. Oh well, that website I linked to is very informative! 

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The thing is Irish, it's one lone mushroom, in a garden of full sun.

 

 

That info is wonderful Irish.  Thank you. 

 

Do you cut a chive before the flower comes out or after?

 

Colleen 

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then that mushroom is all the more special ;)

 

yes, you want to use your herbs before they flower. However, the chives will still have flavor even after that purple flower comes.

They are hardy littler suckers, I'll tell ya!

My Dad dug up a clump for me, drove it across Mass &, put it in my garden in 1987. (that was 2 yards ago)

I split and moved it 2X. then, I split it again and we used some soil from that area to plant a pussy wllow transplant (again, from my Dad)

at the opposite end of the back property.

 

I looked at the tree the other day, and here are chives growing there at the base  :D

 

The flowers on all herbs are pretty, but try to pinch back the tops before they come. .

For example, on the basil plants, at the top of the stems, pinch back the little leaves. it makes the plant grow fuller and it keeps it from blooming too soon.

When I see flowers coming, I cut and freeze the basil. I dry the thyme and rosemary. By summer's end, I have used up all the cilantro.

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My grammy taught me to make lavender wands. It is by far one of my favorite uses and I love to keep them in my drawers of clothes. 

http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/62lavenderwand/

http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/how-to-make-lavender-wands.html

 

I also use lavender and mint for herb water. I could if I were ambitious tie it up in a cheesecloth and just drop it in water but that seems silly when I have a tea ball. Lavender water by itself is also lovely. I started this because to be honest, I can not stand plain water at all unless it is fresh spring water. Since I live in town and have to drink filtered water I do this. There are all sorts of fun combinations but this is by far the best imo. 

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My grammy taught me to make lavender wands. It is by far one of my favorite uses and I love to keep them in my drawers of clothes. 

http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/62lavenderwand/

http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/how-to-make-lavender-wands.html

 

I also use lavender and mint for herb water. I could if I were ambitious tie it up in a cheesecloth and just drop it in water but that seems silly when I have a tea ball. Lavender water by itself is also lovely. I started this because to be honest, I can not stand plain water at all unless it is fresh spring water. Since I live in town and have to drink filtered water I do this. There are all sorts of fun combinations but this is by far the best imo. 

 

 

I just love love love lavendar. It makes me feel relaxed.  ^_^  and happy

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My husband was surprised when I went into the herb shop and picked up a rather large (to him) bag of lavender. He asked what I was going to do with it and I told him I would use it to flavor water and eat it. He was like :blink:  you can eat lavender? Yes. I also keep almost buying a lavender cake mix at the health food store. 

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I also love lavender and use it in glazes for duck, for example.  I also make lavender lime jelly and other preserves with it.

 

Chives are so hardly they survive as perennials where I live!  Now that cannot be beat.  We are even colder than Siberia.  I grow many herbs as well but my favourite standbys are chives, rosemary (which must be grown as annuals here), thyme (English and lemon) and lemon verbena.  Oh, and sage.  And a few mints.  And garlic chives.

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