Herbs

Types of Herbs

Selection and Storage

Choose herbs that are fresh looking with no blemishes or spots and sprightly rather than limp leaves. Store in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

Herbs are available all year round. Basil is at its peak in Summer.

Using

Some herbs such as mint and coriander do not respond well to cooking becoming slimy and should be added fresh to cold dishes or at the end of cooking. Other herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano are robust enough to withstand cooking. Basil bruises easily so should be torn rather than chopped. Different herbs are particularly suited to different meats and vegetables.

Nutrition Information

Many herbs contain valuable vitamins and minerals.

Microherbs

Types

Micro herbs or micro greens refer to minature varieties of herbs and greens grown for their mild taste and decorative effect. They are popular with chefs and sold alive in small tubs or containers. Types include; red radish, mache, chives, chervil,  mint, coriander and basil.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches, store at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round

Using

Use in salads or as a garnish. They are fragile so should be used fresh not cooked.

 

Mint

Types

There are between 13-18 varieties of mint. This aromatic perrenial herb is easy to grow and used in the cooking of many different cultures. The leaves can be differing shades of green with a serrated edge and are arranged in opposite pairs. The mint that is commonly found in Australian gardens is coarser with a rounder leaf than commercially available mint. The most common types of mint sold for eating in Australia are regular mint and Vietnamese mint. Though the latter is not true mint and has a hot, pungeant flavour.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches, with green, pert leaves. Avoid blackened or marked bunches with wilted leaves. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Commercially available mint is preferable to common garden mint because of its less coarse texture. Mint is widely used in African, Greek, English, American and Middle Eastern cooking. Mint is good with lamb, peas, yoghurt, lemons, noodles, pork, tomatoes, cucumber prawns and pork.

 

 

Coriander

Types

All elements of the coriander plant are used, seeds, leaves, stems and roots. Coriander leaves are scalloped and bright green with a long narrow stem, they are sold in bunches with part of the root attached. The leaves have a distinct aroma and flavour. Coriander is known as cilantro in American cuisine. Coriander seeds are the dried fruit of the coriander plant.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches with green leaves. Avoid wilted bunches and blackened or waterlogged leaves. Store covered in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round.

Using

This delicate herb needs to be added at the end of cooking or fresh in salads. Fresh Coriander leaves are used widely as a garnish for curries and stirfries in  South East Asian and Indian cuisines. Coriander is also used in Middle Eastern cooking. Coriander roots, found at the base of a coriander bunch are used to make curry pastes. Fragrant coriander seeds are  essential part of many Middle Eastern and East Asian dishes. Coriander is good with prawns, fish, avocados, ginger, coconut, mint, parsley and yoghurt.


Kaffir Lime Leaves

About

Kaffir lime leaves are the glossy dark green distincitve “double leaves” of the Kaffir lime tree. Kaffir limes are a very bumpy skinned  lime .

Selection and Storage

Choose glossy green fresh looking leaves. Store covered in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Using

Kaffir lime leaves are used frequently in South East Asian cuisine. They are added whole to curries or ground into pastes, such as for Tom Yum. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. They have a sharp acidic lime flavour. The rind and zest of kaffir limes are also used in curry pastes and Creole cooking and also added to rums. Good with chicken, pork, chillis and coconut milk.

Availability

All year round.

 

 

Oregano

Types

Oregano is really a wild variety of marjoram. There are a number of wild varieties grown but the most commonly commercially available variety has small rounded olive leaves which occur oppositionally on the stem.

Selection and Storage

Choose unblemished bunches. Avoid bunches with yellowing leaves. Store covered in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Oregano is an exception to the general rule that most herbs are best fresh. Dried oregano especially when sold as dried whole bunches has a strong  aromatic warm flavour that is more intensive when dried.  It is used widely in Italian American, Middle Eastern, Greek, Spanish and Latin American cuisine. It goes well with tomatoes, chilli, lamb, paprika, olives and eggplant.

 

 

 

Chervil

Chervil has a delicate aniseed and parsley flavour. It is used in the French fines herbes combination with tarragon, chives and parsley.

Selection and Storage

Choose bunches with green fresh looking leaves, avoid yellow leaves. Keep in the crisper section of the refrigerator and use within a few days.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Good with delicate flavoured ingredients such as eggs.

Basil

Types

Originating in India, basil is used in European and South East Asian cooking. There are more than 40 varieties of basil. Commercially the main varieties are sweet basil and the small more compact milder green basil, but these are not sold by variety. In addition there are the Asian varieties Thai basil and holy basil. Both have green leaves with a purple underside and tips and purple flowers. Holy basil has bigger leaves than Thai basil. Both have an aniseed fragrance and flavour.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking basil with unmarked leaves. Avoid blackened, wilted leaves. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days.

Availability

Sweet basil, Thai basil and holy basil are available all year round. Green basil is available in the summer months.

Using

Basil should be torn not chopped as the leaves bruise easily. Thai and Holy basil are used frequently in Thai and Vietnamese cooking and the leaves are generally used whole such as in pho. Basil is not generally cooked as the leaves can be become slimy and should be added at the end of cooking or used fresh in salads. Basil is great with tomatoes, olive oil, lamb, eggplants, zucchini, pine nuts and parmesan (especially in pesto), prawns and scallops.

 

Parsley

Types

The 2 main types are  curly parsley and continental parsley also known as Italian or flat leaf parsley.  Flat leaf parsley has dark green flat leaves with distinct cut edges.  Curly leaf parsley is a crinkly leaf variety which was popular because of its suitability for garnishing. It can still be found adorning meat in butchers shops.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches. Avoid yellowing leaves. Store in plastic bag or in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Curly parsley is best for deep frying . Flat leaf parsley is best for everything else, but use at the end of cooking. Parsley is such a versatile herb and goes well in combination with other herbs. Use flat leaf parsley in salads, it is a key ingredient in  tabouleh and garnishes such as the classic gremolata. Parsley is good with eggs, fish, butter, pasta, cheese, artichokes and zucchini.

 

 

Sage

Types

Generally only common sage is commercialy available. However, also good are Pineapple Sage and Red Sage.

Selection and Storage

With fresh younger leaves are generally better, with more mature leaves having a stronger, more overpowering  flavour. Sage keeps for a few days in covered in the refrigerator. Dried sage is very strong and should be used in small quantities.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Sage is delicious fried in butter with the butter and sage used as a sauce for veal, filled or ravioli. Sage good with chicken, pumpkin, leeks, peas, artichoke and duck.

 

Thyme

Types

There are a number of varieties including the creeping variety that is common to Australian gardens. Both lemon thyme, with citrus flavours and regular thyme is commonly sold in Australia.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh thyme as opposed to dried. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round.

Using

Thyme has a strong flavour and aroma. It is good with lamb, chicken and fish, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and mustard.

Tarragon

Types

Tarragon is native to Southern Europe. There are 2 main varieties the finer of which French tarragon is sold as tarragon in Australia.

Selection and Storage

Best fresh. Choose bunches of fresh looking green leaves. Avoid bunches with yellowing or waterlogged leaves. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

Availability

Most of the year. Peak season is September-May.

Using

Tarragon goes well with chicken, fish, tomatoes, mayonaise and eggs.

Rosemary

Types

Originating in the Mediterrean rosemary is traditionally used in Italian, Southern French and Spanish cooking. Rosemary has symbolised remembrance since at least the 16th century, it grows wild around Gallipoli and has become synonymous in Australia with Remembrance Day. Rosemary has small needle like green and silver aromatic leaves. There are a number of varieties including a creeping variety.

Selection and Storage

Fresh rosemary is preferable to dried rosemary and keeps well in a covered container or bag in the refrigerator.

Availability

Rosemary is evergreen. It grows well all year round throughout Australia and is always available.

Using

Rosemary goes well with roasted meats, potatoes, chicken, olive oil and onions.

Marjoram

Types

The main types of marjoram are pot marjoram, sweet marjoram, wild majoram (oregano) and gold marjoram. Marjoram is generally not sold by variety the most commonly sold types are pot marjoram and sweet marjoram.  It has woody stems and  small, oval leaves with white or pink flowers. They have a stronger flavour than oregano which is slightly bitter and sharp.

Selection and Storage

Choose fresh looking bunches. Avoid blackened or yellowing leaves. Store in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

All year round

Using

Good with tomatoes, white cheeses, eggs, fish and lemons.