Showing posts with label Herbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Herbs. Show all posts

Jun 17, 2016

Regrowing Herbs at Home

For a fun organic money saver, you can grow your own herbs with leftovers. Below are a few favorites.

Mint is an easy-to-grow perennial herb. Snip a stem off the plant so it measures about 2-3 inches lengthwise just below the leaf node (where the leaves begin to grow). Remove the lower leaves for use in your recipe, but leave a few at the top. Place the stem in a glass of water on a windowsill that receives sunshine. The mint will develop roots within a few weeks. Change the water when it starts to look murky. About a week after roots appear, plant in a pot with soil and continue to water as necessary. Keep it contained, as it develops runners and spreads quickly in a garden.

Rosemary is a great addition to pork chops, roasted meats, fish, and vegetables. Snip a few sprigs of rosemary from 2-3 inches off the top of the plant and pull away the lowest leaves, leaving a few at the top. Place the sprigs in a small glass with the stem fully immersed in water on a windowsill. Change the water every few days. Rosemary is slow to produce new roots and can take two months or longer before you see progress. About a week after roots appear, transfer the plant to soil.

Lemon Balm, Oregano, Sage, Thyme - The process for regrowing these is identical to regrowing rosemary or mint. You can even combine all in the same glass to save space, but do not pack too close as the roots will tangle.

Parsley only grows for two gardening seasons and then dies. In its first year it produces the delicious leaves that are commonly used for sauces and the second year it goes to seed. A benefit of its final year are its edible roots, which are considered the most flavorful part of the plant. The process for regrowing parsley is identical to the others above.

Fennel is slightly sweet and licorice-flavored in taste and great for poultry. I use dried fennel on pizza. The directions for growing this is different from the others. Cut off the fennel stalks and place the fennel bulb fully submerged in a bowl of water. Place in direct sunlight and change the water every few days. New fennel stems will grow within a few days.

Feb 28, 2014

Herbs and Spices

Herbs are only obtained from the leafy part of a plant while spices can come from any other part of the plant. A single plant can be the source of both an herb and a spice, or more than one spice.

The coriander plant, is an example of a plant that produces both an herb and a spice. The leafy green part is known as coriander leaf (typically known as cilantro in the Americas), while the dried seeds are sold whole or ground as coriander. Nutmeg and mace, both spices, are derived from the seed of the fruit of the myristica fragrans, or nutmeg tree. The seed has a waxy red outer layer (called the “aril”) which is carefully removed, dried, and ground to make mace. The rest of the seed is then dried out and sold whole or ground to be used as nutmeg.

Culinary herbs are the leafy portions of a plant that die down after each growing season and can be used as dried or fresh. Examples include basil, bay leaves, parsley, cilantro, mint, rosemary and thyme.

Spices have a much broader spectrum of origin and can be utilized from any other part of a plant such as the roots, bark, flowers, fruit, and seeds.  Examples come from berries (peppercorns), roots (ginger), seeds (nutmeg), flower buds (cloves) or the stamen of flowers (saffron). Spices are always used in dried form and have also traditionally been used as a preservative.  Archaeologists have found evidence in Egyptian tombs of spices used for embalming, dating back to 3000 B.C.

Allspice is not a combination of anything. It is the dried unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica tree. The name allspice was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Black pepper is a flowering vine, cultivated for its fruit, which is dried and used as a spice and seasoning. Salt is neither an herb nor a spice, because it is an inorganic mineral.

Dec 23, 2012

Facts about Mistletoe

The name comes from the fact mistletoe starts from bird droppings made from the red or white berries. It is a parasitic plant and roots to the branches of trees. Thus “mistle” or “missel”, which meant “dung”, and “toe”, which came from the Anglo-Saxon “tan” meaning “twig.” There are over 900 species of mistletoe and it grows on a wide variety of trees.

Ancient Greeks considered the plant an aphrodisiac and believed it aided in fertility. Norseman believed mistletoe was a plant of peace and when enemies met under the mistletoe they were obliged to stop fighting for at least a day. Eventually, this spawned a tradition to hang mistletoe over the doorway for peace and good luck.

It became associated with Christmas from the tradition of hanging mistletoe in one’s home to bring good luck and peace to those within the house. It hung year round and was replaced each Christmas eve or at New Year.

During the 16th century in Britain, it became popular to create a ball of mistletoe hung as a Christmas decoration. Couples standing under the mistletoe were to kiss if the mistletoe ball still had berries. For each kiss, one berry would be taken from the ball. Once all the berries were gone, all the “luck” was drained out and it became bad luck to kiss beneath it.

Mistletoe leaves and young twigs are used by herbalists, and it is popular in Europe, especially in Germany, for treating circulatory and respiratory system problems.