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Humble Seed’s Herb Guide To Cooking

July 20th, 2014

 

Caprese Salad

If you’re new to cooking with herbs, adding them to dishes and combining them with other flavors can feel intimidating. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about cooking with herbs – from what meat and produce it compliments, to which flavors it pairs well with, and a few recipe ideas also. We’re wondering: which herbs are your favorite to use? Which dishes with fresh herbs does your family love? 

Superbo Basil This Genovese-type of basil provides thick leaves and wonderful flavor.

Compliments: Chicken, lamb, roast beef, turkey, berries, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese

Pairs well with: Fennel, thyme, and oregano

Recipe ideas: Basil tastes best when uses fresh. Use as a garnish, in pesto sauces, stir fries, marinara sauces, and Italian dishes. 

Purly Chives This chive variety grows leaves that are straight and upright, with pretty globe-shaped blooms that make delicious garnishes. Purly chives offer a mild onion flavor, and it is an easy-to-grow herb, perfect for containers or the garden. 

Compliments: Steak, veal, red meat dishes, tuna, potatoes, eggs, and a variety of vegetables like asparagus and bokchoy. 

Pairs well with: paprika, chopped parsley, tarragon, chives, and marjoram 

Recipe ideas: As garnish, in beef stew, soups, mixed in mashed potatoes, potato salads, baked potatoes, omelets, and salad dressings

Santo Cilantro This quick growing cilantro is a classic herb that is very versatile. For a continuous supply of fresh cilantro leaves, direct seed every three to four weeks. Cilantro leaves provide more flavor before plant flowers. 

Compliments: Chicken, beef, grilled fish, pork, black beans, avocados, corn, and tomatoes 

Pairs well with: Allspice, cumin, cardamom, ginger, lime, chili peppers 

Recipe ideas: As garnish, in salsas, Mexican dishes, sausages, and stuffings – also used in some baking dishes. 

Cumin While this plant grows best in warmer regions, cumin will grow in northern areas if seed is started early. Cumin’s foliage is similar to dill and sometimes confused with caraway, and cumin’s flavor is commonly mistaken for other herbs, and other herbs for it, due to problems in translation from the languages of the lands where its cultivation and use are common. Young leaves add great flavor to salads. For many Indian and Mexican dishes, cumin is a must-have ingredient. 

Compliments: Salmon, pork, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, cabbage, and chickpeas 

Pairs well with: ginger, turmeric, chili powder, garlic, coriander

Recipe ideas: Stirred in avocado dips and chili, commonly found in Moroccan dishes, Mexican dishes, Indian dishes

Bouquet Dill Bouquet—the most popular dill variety—produces highly flavorful leaves and seeds. The seeds are great to use as a pickling spice. Dry dill leaves for use later.

Compliments: Chicken, fish, eggs, carrots, cucumber, green beans, potatoes, and yogurt

Pairs well with: garlic, onion

Recipe ideas: Quiche, sprinkled on grilled salmon, mixed in potato and carrot salads, commonly found in Greek dishes and Scandinavian dishes

Bronze and Green Fennel  This non-bulbing type of feathery fennel offers bronze-red and dark green foliage. The sweet flavored leaves make a great addition to salads, soups and stews, and fennel leaves make a pretty garnish. For medicinal purposes, fennel seeds are used in teas and tinctures and also as a digestive aid, expectorant and a spleen, kidney, and reproductive tonic.

Compliments: Pasta, jicama, chicken, pork, potatoes, 

Pairs well with:  citrus, anise, cinnamon, black pepper corns, basil, mint

Recipe ideas: Roasted chicken, pasta dishes, topped on pizza, baked in a potato casserole, topped on pork tenderloin, mixed in a lightly steamed bean salad

Greek Oregano This Greek oregano is more pungent than common oregano, and it is prized by chefs for its aroma, flavor and versatility.This Greek oregano is great for container gardening

Compliments: Marinated vegetables, tomatoes, white meat, beef, fried fish, roast beef

Pairs well with: garlic, olive oil, parsley, chili flakes, bay leaves, marjoram, fennel, basil and thyme

Recipe ideas: Sprinkled on pizza, stirred in tomato sauces, Italian dishes

Titan Parsley Titan parsley grows into upright, compact plants that provide good uniformity and yield. Although this parsley is a biennial, the flavor is best in the first year, thus it is grown as an annual. The flat leaves that this parsley produces makes them great for garnishing dishes

Compliments: Chicken, fish, red meat, potatoes, eggs, a variety of vegetables 

Pairs well with: Basil, chives, and tarragon

Recipe ideas: Sprinkled on casseroles and pasta dishes for color, stirred in soups, minced and added to mixed, sautéed vegetables 

Common Sage Use sage’s flavorful grey-green leaves to season beans, cheese, meats, pork, poultry, sauces, sausages, and more. Sage is also used as a digestive and nerve tonic. Sage plants are good for containers, and they make an excellent border plant for an herb garden. Replant sage every 3 years as it naturally dies off after 5 years.

Compliments: Sweet potatoes, pork, white meat, sausage, beef, cheese, apples, winter produce

Pairs well with: lemon

Recipe ideas: Tastes best when cooked with butter, top on baked sweet potatoes, add to stuffing, sausage, roasts, pork tenderloin, cheeseburgers

Ginger Winter Thyme Thyme goes with just about anything, and this is the herb to use if you’re a new cook!

Compliments: Poultry, grilled fish, roast beef, pork, lamb, egg, mushrooms, mixed vegetables

Pairs well with: Bay leaves, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, rosemary

Recipe ideas: French dishes, grilled fish, omelets, quiche, seafood chowder, soups, sprinkled on mixed vegetables

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information or message us on Facebook.

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Crockpot Cooking Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

February 6th, 2013

Looking for more ways to use your garden fresh vegetables and herbs this winter? The crockpot is one of the greatest time-saving appliances in your kitchen. While one of the best features of a crockpot is its simplicity (just flip a switch!), getting vegetables and herbs perfectly tender and flavorful in a one-pot wonder can be tricky. Read our tips to ensure your next crockpot meal shows off your garden’s bountiful harvest.

Crockpot Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

*Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat. Therefore, place all vegetables at the bottom of the crockpot, which is nearest to the heat.

*Fill the crockpot halfway to 2/3 the way full. Overfilling the crockpot will not allow the contents to cook entirely, while not filling the crockpot enough will cook the contents too quickly.

*Adding plenty of liquid to the crockpot (ie: vegetable broth, water, juice) will allow vegetables to become tender and moist.

*Avoid the urge to lift the lid to stir or to “check on” your meal (we know it’s tough!). Lifting the lid, even only for a moment will only force heat to escape, which may affect the cooking time anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

*Add tender vegetables that cook quickly at the end of the cooking period (we suggest the last 45 minutes to an hour). Vegetables that cook very quickly are tomatoes, squash varieties, and mushrooms.

*Try sautéing vegetables in olive oil, salt, and seasonings directly in the crockpot before you add the remaining ingredients. This will add more POW to your meal.

*Many dry herbs can be thrown in at any time, yet many fresh herbs should be added only at the end of the cooking period. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley taste their best when stirred in last minute, just before serving. You can also try using half the herbs in the beginning of cooking, and using the remaining herbs at the end of cooking.

Ready to test these crockpot tips out? We offer many of the vegetables and herbs in this recipe in our Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kits. This slow cooker stew recipe is simply a cinch to make, and has many of the bright flavors associated with Mediterranean cooking.  Feel free to layer it on pasta, ravioli, rice or quinoa – or serve it as a rich stew all on its own. Is it me, or is it hard not to puff up your chest a bit when making a fabulous meal using a slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Stew

Serves 4-5

2 cups eggplant, diced with peel

1 yellow squash, diced with peel

1 small yellow onion, diced

¼  cup black olives, sliced

¼  cup golden raisons

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup vegetable broth

8-ounce can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon chopped cumin

¼  teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

olive oil for drizzling

Method: In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the parsley and olive oil and stir until well mixed.  Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. The last 30 minutes, add chopped parsley. Serve over pasta, ravioli, quinoa or rice.  Drizzle each plate with olive oil before serving.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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How-to Dry Herbs for Cooking and Decorating

May 12th, 2011

 

With their intoxicating aromas and ability to transform dishes into palate pleasing wonders, herbs are simply sublime. Throughout history, herbs have been used in many ways and for many reasons. Ancient Greeks used parsley as a cure for stomach ailments; early Dutch settlers planted chives in meadows so that cows would produce chive-flavored milk; and early American settlers burned herbs for their fragrance, stored herbs with linens, and used herbs for illnesses. These are just a few ways that herbs have been used throughout history. In some way, shape or form, herbs have been used by different cultures around the globe.

If you have an abundance of herbs growing in your garden or if you would like to preserve some of your herbs to enjoy year-round, you should dry some of your harvest. It’s easy to do, and it is a great way for you to savor the herb gardening season and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Once dried, you can enjoy your herbs for cooking or decorating. Tie pretty ribbons around bunches of dried herbs then hang in increments from a string for a simple, sweet window swag; add dried herbs to glass bottles filled with olive oil, which you can use to decorate your kitchen counter with and for flavoring salad dressings and sauces; or make an aromatic sachet with dried flowers and herbs to tuck into travel bags or scent a drawer.

When cooking with dried herbs—if you’re substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs—one teaspoon of dried, crumbled herbs is the equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh herbs. Before storing dried herbs in air tight containers, look for any dried herbs that may show signs of mold and toss those out. To retain flavor, store leaves whole then crumble them when you’re ready to use them. Dried herbs will last for about one year and should be kept out of the sunlight.

There are several ways that you can dry fresh herbs, but we’re going to keep it simple and provide you with the steps for air drying low moisture herbs, such as bay, dill, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Air drying is the easiest process and least expensive:

1. Cut healthy herb branches mid-morning from plant. Cutting herb branches mid-morning allows for any morning dew to dry from the leaves. If you cut too late in the afternoon your herbs may be wilting from the heat of the afternoon sun, and you don’t want that. Note: The best time to cut herbs for drying is just before they flower—this is when they contain the most oil, which is what gives them their aroma and flavor.

2. Check the leaves, and pull off any diseased or dry leaves and make sure there are no insects on leaves.

3. Pull off lower leaves from herb branches, approximately one inch from bottom so that you have space to tie them together.

4. If the leaves are dirty, you can rinse herbs with cool water, but make sure to gently pat them dry with a paper towel as wet herbs will mold and rot.

5. Combine 5-6 herb branches together then tie with string.

6. If you want, label a paper bag with the name of the herb(s) you will be drying inside. Make several holes in the bag then place the herb bundle, leaves down, into the bag so that the stems are at the opening of the bag. Gather the open end of the bag around the stems and tie closed with a long piece of string. Hang the bag in a well ventilated, warm room (70 to 80 degrees F). You can dry herbs without placing them in a paper bag, but the paper bag helps keep dust off of the herbs while they’re drying.

7. Check herbs in approximately two weeks then periodically until dried. The drying process should take approximately 2 to 4 weeks.

Enjoy!

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