Growing And Using Fresh Herbs & Spices For Cooking

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I usually grow herbs for personal use, such as cosmetic, medicinal and culinary purposes, and I continue to reap the benefits of their usage.

Here I have selected four of my regular herbs which I tend to use on a daily basis for my meals.

What's a Herb

A herb is any plant with stems that die at the root each year - in cold climates, definitely at winter.
Any herbaceous or woody plant which is aromatic in one or more parts, and is considered to have culinary, medicinal or cosmetic value, can be termed a herb.

The usage of herbs go back many centuries, and according to McCormick Science Institute

" Early documentation suggests that hunters and gatherers wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, accidentally discovering that this process enhanced the taste of the meat, as did certain nuts, seeds, berries, and bark. Over the years, spices and herbs were used for medicinal purposes. They were also used as a way to mask unpleasant tastes and odors of food, and later, to keep food fresh."


Growing Herbs

I was skeptic about planting herbs on my terrace since I'm right facing the sea, but the good thing is that I'm on a cliff, so the sea water/splash does not affect my plants.

Herbs are easy to grow and can be planted anywhere, it was most convenient for me to plant my herbs in pots as the surrounding garden outside my apartment is strategically planted with sharp cactus plants for the dual purpose of security. You're guaranteed to get painful pricks once you go behind the railing on my terrace.

The soil is of much importance when growing herbs so make sure that it is fertile, well-drained and free of weed. Also the sunlight exposure needs to be taken into consideration, as some herbs might thrive better in direct sunlight, and others might do better in more shady areas and be exposed to sun only for short periods.

The four herbs I use most are:

  • Basil
  • Chilies
  • Coriander
  • Lemongrass

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Basil


I always have a lot of Basil. See how tall they can grow. It's best to harvest the basil before it starts flowering, as basil will easily propagate. However, sometimes over busy periods, when I don't have the chance to tend to it daily, it grows this tall. It has a strong flavour, and I cannot think of one dish that I don't include basil leaves, well, that's not true, I don't add it to porridge, but I haven't had a bowl of porridge in ages.


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💡Herbs are best when had fresh.
💡The fresh leaves are great for garnishing, as well as just munching on.


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Shredded basil and spring onions over tomato salad

Other ways I use my Basil leaves are chopped up on top of pasta, as well as for a nice homemade Pesto, which @discoveringarni and I made with my last crop of basil.

Medicinal Benefits Of Basil

  • Basil is a great immune booster
  • Basil leaves are good for digestion, as it's anti-inflammatory, it helps with flatulence and stomach pains
  • Basil helps to stabilise the mood,
  • Basil supports liver function and detoxify the body.


Chilies

I love the convenience of being able to pick a red chili to add to my cooking. I like them chopped for curries and sometimes on omelettes. Chillies are versatile and relatively easy to grow. Generally speaking, I think chilies give an oomph to most dishes.

Medicinal Benefits Of Chilies

  • Chilies are rich with vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin C, B6, K1, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Copper.
  • Chilies help to kick start the metabolism, so they are believed to assist in weight loss.

Source:


Coriander

Awesome with my curries. I love the freshness in sandwiches and also served on top of quinoa salads. My coriander didn't thrive well for some reason. I only got one crop and I never got around to purchasing more seeds.

However, this herb also needs fertile well-drained soil and should be open to the sun.

Health Benefits Of Coriander

  • Coriander helps to boost the immune.
  • Coriander may help to lower blood sugar
  • Coriander is good for brain health
  • Coriander helps to protect the gut and aids digestion.

Source:


Lemongrass

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Fresh lemongrass and my precious claypot

Lemongrass is a powerful herb which has so many uses and benefits.
I particularly like to stuff stems of lemongrass up the cavity of my chicken which I roast in my claypot.
I add lots of chilies, fresh herbs and seasonings, along with fresh garlic and lemon, and I add the lemongrass for a delicious flavour.
Here I've added a link to my previous post on Lemongrass Goodness where you'll find many added uses and benefits of lemongrass.


There are so many benefits to adding herbs to your health practices. As it stands, I no longer own any of these herbs due to preparations to relocate, however, as soon as I move back to the UK, in the springtime - perfect for planting herbs, my mission is to sow some seeds in pots and hopefully they'll be fit for harvesting before winter.

What are some of your favourite fresh herbs you like to use for cooking?

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