Herb Properties In the Kitchen Storage
Basil
(Ocimum basilicum)
Strongly scented, sweet, spicy and refreshing. Large, glossy leaves. Varieties include lemon basil, cinnamon basil and lime basil. Diuretic and nervous-system calmative. For most dishes, cook only a small amount and add the remainder fresh just before serving. Combines beautifully with tomatoes and garlic; enhances most cooked vegetables, cheese, fish, poultry and pasta sauces. Works well with blueberries, strawberries and other summer fruits. Stand in glass of water in a sunny window, or refrigerate with caution in airtight container only. May be frozen, but does not dry well.
Chives
(Allium schoenoprasum)
Spicy, fresh and acidic, similar to leeks and onions. Very high vitamin C content; rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin A. Good in any dish where fresh onion flavor is desired. Best used fresh, as vitamins are lost in cooking and flavor is diminished when dried. Especially good with dishes containing fish, eggs, cheese and potatoes. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen, but does not dry well.
Cilantro
(Coriandrum sativum)
Also known as coriander and Chinese parsley. Pungent aroma and strong, soapy taste. Coriander seed is used in herbal medicine for soothing stomach and intestinal upset. Very susceptible to heat, so should be added at the end of cooking. Enhances poultry, beans, eggs, vegetables, salads and sauces. Combine with ginger, garlic and lime to marinate fish. Stand in water in refrigerator, and cover loosely with plastic bag. Does not dry well.
Dill
(Anethum graveolens)
Delicate, slightly tangy flavor. In herbal medicine, dill is used to strengthen the stomach, ease colic and relieve flatulence. Best used fresh, not cooked. Classic ingredient in fish and vegetable marinades; also enhances breads, cottage cheese, dips, mustards, vinegars, cucumbers, carrots, eggs and potatoes. Stand in water in refrigerator. May be frozen or dried.
Sweet marjoram
(Majorana hortensis; formerly Origanum majorana)
Milder than oregano, with a hint of sweetness; aromatic and pleasantly spicy. Promotes digestion and stimulates appetite. Leaves of Crete marjoram (Origanum dictamnus) are used in herbal medicine to stem bleeding; also yields a tangy tea. Can replace oregano for mild sweetness and spice. Flavor weakened by high temperatures. Add to sauces, stews, soups and most combinations of vegetables and meat, especially casseroles. Enhances beans, corn, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, squash and tomatoes. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried on the stem.
Mint
(Mentha spp.)
More than 25 varieties exist, including chocolate mint, lemon mint, orange mint, pineapple mint, apple mint and even banana mint. The oldest known variety is peppermint (Mentha x piperita). Highly aromatic, containing volatile oil with high menthol content. Eases indigestion and fatigue. Refreshing addition to most foods, including cold drinks, hot teas, baked or broiled fish, cream cheese, summer vegetables, eggplant and potatoes. Combines well with garlic to flavor meat and lamb. Complements cilantro in salads. Excellent addition to desserts that feature ginger, lemon or chocolate. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried.
Oregano
(Origanum spp.)
Spicy and aromatic; reminiscent of marjoram and thyme, but more acidic. Acts as an antispasmodic, decongestant and anti-inflammatory. Combines well with basil, capers and tomatoes; enhances pizza, roast meats, soups, stews, beans, eggplant, olives and citrus. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried on the stem.
Parsley
(Petroselinum crispum)
The best-known and most commonly used herb worldwide. Clean, crisp taste. Flat-leaf parsley is more aromatic than curly parsley, which is milder. Contains high levels of vitamins A, C and E, iron and calcium. A natural breath freshener. Use finely chopped parsley to season a wide variety of foods, including soups, salads, sauces, dips, rice, potatoes, cauliflower, squash, poultry, meat and fish. Stand in water in refrigerator, or wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen, but dry with caution.
Rosemary
(Rosmarinus officinalis)
Fragrant, bittersweet taste. Antioxidant; used to stimulate circulation and as a nervous-system calmative. Goes well with all meats and Mediterranean vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplant, as well as potatoes, onions and breads. Excellent combined with lemon or wine and garlic; also popular for flavoring olive oil and marinades and when used with game and fish. Enhances teas, apple juice and lemonade. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried on the stem.
Sage
(Salvia officinalis)
Strong, spicy, aromatic flavor reminiscent of pine. The ancient Romans prized its healing properties as an astringent and disinfectant. Useful in counteracting sore throats, intestinal inflammation and perspiration. Full flavor develops best if cooked. Excellent with fish, poultry and meats. Mix with chopped onion and apple for savory stuffing. Works well with asparagus, beans and corn and with strong winter fruits such as apples and pumpkins. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried.
Tarragon
(Artemisia dracunculus)
Delicate, spicy taste with a slightly sweet aftertaste. For culinary uses, French tarragon is excellent. In ancient times, tarragon was used to prevent snakebite—hence the Latin name dracunculus, “small dragon.” A proven diuretic and digestive stimulant. Full flavor develops during cooking; use sparingly so flavor won’t dominate. Often combined with dill and parsley. Enhances onions and shallots; flavors butters, mayonnaise, mustards and vinegars. Excellent with poultry, seafood, eggs, asparagus, peas and squash. In desserts, can be combined with blueberries, figs, cherries and pears. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen, but does not dry well.
Thyme
(Thymus vulgaris)
Spicy, sharp taste. Boasts antiseptic, antispasmodic and decongestant qualities. Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is milder and aids digestion. Powerful taste develops best at high temperatures. Combines ideally with garlic, olives, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, as well as seafood and poultry. Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) enhances many fruit desserts. Wrap in damp paper towels, place in sealed plastic bag and refrigerate. May be frozen or dried on the stem.