Herbs – Culinary and Medicinal
When you find a plant with flowers blooming in the shape of an umbrella, it’s a member of the Umbelliferae plant family. Many herbs fall into this category, including fennel, parsley, cilantro, dill and the lesser know herbs angelica and chervil. Angelica archangelica blooms early, often by May 8th, St. Michael’s Day, hence its name. Use small amounts of the leaves to flavor soups, vegetables and salads with a sweet and light licorice flavor. In Europe, bakers candied the stalks to use in desserts (you can use small fennel stalks for a similar, though stronger flavor). Angelica also has medicinal properties and is used by herbalists as a remedy for colds, cough, pleurisy, colic, urinary problems and more.
My favorite herb to provide a hint of licorice or anise, however, is chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). A delicate cousin to parsley in appearance, it is a wonderful addition to lighter preparations of eggs, spring vegetables (small carrots, peas and cooked mild radishes) and white-fleshed fish or shellfish as a finishing herb. Best raw or close to raw, it’s a beautiful and delicate addition to green salads. It’s one of the classic four fines herbes (parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil), although I might omit the much stronger tarragon on occasion to allow the chervil to shine. The four herbs are chopped together just until your cutting board begins to turn green. Add this to your egg mixture before cooking, lightly cook and then serve your scrambled eggs or omelet topped with crumbled chèvre or crème fraiche and a few more chervil leaves for an elegant brunch or light supper.
I only use chervil from my garden; expensive store-bought chervil quickly fades in the refrigerator, and of course is never as fresh to begin with! Provide your plants with some moisture and a little shade from our strong sun to extend this delicate taste through spring into early summer.
- Cinnamon– Eve’s favorite for pesto & Mexican dishes, drying, purple stems, pink flowers, cinnamon overtones
- Nufar Genovese– first fusarium-resistant basil, 24″, large leaves, classic Genovese pesto flavor
- Italiano Classico – the name says it all
- Finissimo Verde a Palla– perfect 10″ globes, very small fragrant leaves, window boxes
- Holy Basil– Tulsi-very aromatic and spicy, for salad garnish, herbal tea and medicinally
- Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil– New Mexico heirloom, 30″ vigorous with intense lemon scent
- Thai– tall, bushy, perfumed with distinctive basil/licorice/anise, S.E. Asian cooking
- Sweet – tall, tender, the sweetest basil for salads and pesto
Heart’s Ease / Johnny Jump-ups
Lavender – Provence, Grosso, Hidcote, Munstead, Dwarf, Krajova, Twickle, and more
Mint, Chocolate Peppermint
|Mint, Kentucky Peppermint
Nasturtium, 4 varieties
Oregano, Dwf. Greek
Oregano, Norton’s Gold
Parsley – 4 varieties
Rosemary – Arp, Madeline Hill, Irene, Tuscan Blue, Gorizia
Sage (culinary)- Berggarten, Tricolor, Golden Variegated, Purple
Thyme – French, Caraway, Lemon, Silver, etc.
Viola – Corsican, Arkwright Ruby, Etain, tricolor