We have long believed that healthy herbs are essential to our general well-being. They have been cherished since antiquity, and we now depend more than ever on them to detoxify our bodies, brains, and souls! Of course, we all use herbal ingredients in some way in our daily lives, whether it be for their savory flavor, therapeutic benefits, or delectable recipes.
Picking herbs right from the ground is the best method to maintain their freshness. However, not everyone has a green thumb, and soon it will be too cold for herbs to be grown outside. Although it is feasible to maintain a tiny indoor herb garden, there isn’t much space in my small home, thus trying to grow herbs at the moment would be pointless. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain how I preserve fresh herbs. You can use this method with herbs from your garden or spices from the shop.
What are Herbs?
Aromatics are ingredients that are used to flavor or garnish cuisine. Tender herbs often referred to as soft herbs, and hard herbs are the two types of fresh culinary herbs that are available at farmers’ markets and in the produce section of supermarkets. The herbs cilantro, tarragon, parsley, dill, mint, and basil are examples of tender herbs since they have soft stems and leaves. Hard herbs have tougher leaves and hard, woody stems. Popular hard herbs include sage, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
How to Store Fresh Herbs in the Fridge?
A few rosemary sprigs or a few handfuls of sage leaves may be required in a recipe. To increase the shelf life of leftover fresh herbs, store them in the refrigerator, dry them, or freeze them.
- Refrigerate: To prevent early spoiling, wash fresh herbs in cool water and dry them. This will remove any excess dirt and bacteria. Use a salad spinner to dry the herbs or blot them dry with a paper towel. Tender herbs can be preserved by standing them upright in a jar of water (much like a bouquet) and loosely enclosing them in a plastic bag. Before placing them in the refrigerator, roll tough herbs in a wet paper towel.
- Pick the herbs’ leaves off, then lay them on a platter covered with paper towels to dry. After covering the herbs with a second paper towel, microwave them. Hardy herbs should be dried for one minute at first, then in bursts of 20 seconds until they are totally dry. It will take 40 seconds for soft herbs, then 20-second bursts. Use a mortar and pestle to powder the herbs, then keep the powdered herbs in an airtight container. For dishes that call for braising, like a stew, dry herbs are preferable because they are less flavorful than fresh herbs.
- Herbs should be chopped and put in ice cube trays to freeze. They should be covered with a neutral oil, like canola or light olive oil. Keep the herbs frozen. Use frozen herbs in any sauces, soups, or stews that call for chopped herbs.
What are the Different Types of Herbs?
Here are a few examples of the various herbs:
Basil is one of the most important culinary herbs. Basil’s most common cultivar has a licorice and clove scent. In the south of France, basil is used to make the pistou, and pesto is manufactured in Italy, just across the border. Basil tastes best when combined with tomatoes, like in the renowned Caprese salad, which is made with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and flavorful olive oil. Basil is commonly used in sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Mint is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, so it’s not just for your dessert tray. In the Mediterranean, mint is appreciated as a complement to lamb and is regularly used in fruit and vegetable salads. Even though there are many different varieties, spearmint is preferred for cooking. They can be added to a variety of foods and beverages, including lamb, peas, carrots, ice cream, tea, mint juleps, and mojitos. In contrast to the darker-stemmed, more rounded peppermint leaves, the brilliant green spearmint leaves are fuzzy.
Add chives just before serving because heat destroys their subtle onion flavor. Slice them thinly or use finely clipped chives as a garnish to get the most flavor out of them. Baked potatoes, quesadillas, and dips all pair well with chives.
Dill has been a symbol of energy since the Romans, and in the Middle Ages, it was used in numerous magical concoctions and was said to protect witches. Its feathery leaves lend a fresh, tangy flavor to many dishes in the kitchen, including gravlax, cottage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese, omelets, shellfish (especially salmon), cold yogurt soups, potato salads, and a variety of cucumber recipes (including, of course, pickles).
Is it Necessary to Wash Herbs?
Herbs are already damp when you get them home from the store, contrary to some advice that says washing them adds moisture. Herbs clean up best in cold water and spin in a salad spinner, in my experience. They can be cleaned and spun to get rid of any bacteria or dirt that might encourage degradation. The fragile leaves of herbs are a good example of this. If you don’t have a salad spinner, it’s best to wait to wash the spices until they are ready to use.
After the herbs have been cleaned and spun in the salad spinner, trim the ends of the stems. Remove any wilted or browned leaves. One inch of water should be present in a glass or Mason jar. Arrange the herbs in the container like a bouquet. To keep parsley and cilantro fresh, wrap them loosely in cling wrap or a plastic bag that can be sealed. To cover the herbs, use the lid of a large Mason jar or quart-sized container. Store in the refrigerator.
Also beneficial when combined with tarragon, mint, and dill. When being stored, basil should be kept open and put on a counter where it can get some light. Replace the water as needed or if it starts to turn discolored.
Why should you Include Herbs in your Diet?
The following are some key justifications for including herbs in our diets:
Herbs are abundant in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, phytosterols, and other nutrients obtained from plants that help our systems fight viruses, and toxins, and build immunity. In moderation, herbs function as medications.
By inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), which mediates the inflammatory cascade reaction within the human body, herbal essential oils have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Herbal essential oils’ ability to block enzymes makes them a viable treatment for symptomatic relief in persons with inflammatory health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis.
Numerous unusual compounds found in medicinal herbs have been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
In controlled epidemiological research, it has been shown that certain components of garlic, such as thiosulfate (allicin), can lower blood pressure and total cholesterol, hence reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.
Researchers have determined that curcumin, along with other antioxidants present in turmeric, has anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory capabilities. It is therefore thought to aid in preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The volatile oils, vitamins, and antioxidants in the herbs act as cytotoxic agents against cancerous cells in the endometrium, prostate, pancreas, and colon.
The chemical constituents in herbs have antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, analgesic, aphrodisiac, deodorant, digestive, antiseptic, lipolytic (fat-burning and weight reduction activity), stimulant, and stomachic activities when ingested in the correct amounts.
Reference: Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices have been used for both culinary and medical purposes for millennia. Spices can prevent both acute and chronic diseases in addition to improving the flavor, aroma, and color of food and beverages. More Americans are thinking about using spices and herbs as medicines and treatments, particularly for a variety of chronic diseases. There is now plenty of proof that spices and herbs have cognitive- and mood-affecting characteristics in addition to antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, and cholesterol- and glucose-lowering properties. Through its bioactive components, such as sulfur-containing compounds, tannins, alkaloids, phenolic diterpenes, and vitamins, especially flavonoids and polyphenols, research over the last ten years has revealed a wide spectrum of health qualities.
Whether Herbs are Classified as Fruits or Vegetables?
Herbs are solid, scented leaves from various plants, such as dill, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, cilantro, and basil. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale are equivalent in terms of biochemistry and nutrition. Fresh herbs, on the other hand, are rarely eaten in the same way or amount as vegetables. According to botany, an herb is a herbaceous plant that dies to the ground every winter and lacks a woody stem. Another definition states that an herb is any plant or plant component that has historically been used for flavoring or fragrance.
What are Some Things to Keep in Mind About Herbs?
The following are some key points about herbs that should be kept in mind:
Chervil is an annual herb used in cooking that has anise-flavored leaves. It is a common ingredient in chicken and pig dishes and is used in the traditional French fines herbes mixture along with chives and parsley.
This herb grows swiftly from seeds and thrives in damp, part-shade conditions. Chervil grows well in pots and is resistant to drought.
Sage is a great cooking herb that is very simple to grow. The kitchen’s potted plants come in a wide variety. Mint and cilantro are perennial crops that don’t require watering until the following spring.
The easiest herbs to grow are those that are used in cooking. You can buy containers and sow the herbs one by one. If you have a garden area with a sunny setting, herbs can be transplanted into your kitchen garden.
Herbs are simpler to maintain than larger plants in a pot. The majority of culinary herbs don’t need a lot of water, but with the right care, they can be maintained wet.
A good herb to grow all year round for cooking is rosemary. It lends a beautiful, aromatic flavor to recipes and is highly fragrant when used to roast meats and vegetables.
Do Herbs Contain Vitamins?
In the same way that green leafy vegetables are strong in vitamins A, C, and K, so are fresh herbs. Many herb plants contain polyphenols. Plant compounds known as polyphenols have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Nutritive plants are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. A lot of them also have alkaline minerals, which counteract the effects of having too much acid in the body as a result of eating too many acidic meals.
When you buy fresh herbs, be sure to rinse them well and remove any packaging and debris before storing them. If they are not already washed, you should run them under cold water and then pat them dry with a paper towel. More delicate herbs are best rinsed and dried by hand, while more hearty herbs can be dried in a salad spinner or by shaking them over a sink.
To store herbs properly, take them out of their stems and place them in water before placing them in the fridge. Make sure to rotate the herbs every couple of days, as this will help prevent wilting. Alternatively, you can place them in an airtight jar or tightly-sealed container.
If you want to store a larger quantity of herbs, it’s best to bundle them in smaller batches. Once you’ve bundled the herbs, you can store them in an airtight container or a Mason jar. You can also use an ice cube tray to keep them fresh.