Healthy Culinary Talk: Why You Need To Start Storing and Using Your Fresh Herbs
You’ve probably come to this article wanting to learn more about some herbs that you can use in your cooking to add major flavor boosts into your food, well let me tell you, you’ve come to the correct place! Sort of. We’re going to be talking about why you need to collect and store all of the fresh herbs you have bought or even grown at home!
What are “herbs” in the first place? Herbs are just the leafy part you would take from a plant that you can use in cooking – they can either be fresh or dried. Any other part of the plant that is dried would just be called a spice, like bark for cinnamon or seeds for cumin. Some popular herbs used in cooking you’d already know would be rosemary and thyme.
Fresh herbs are hard to find since the easiest form you’ll find these herbs are in those little spice bottles – and are already dried. However, if you manage to find some fresh herbs, make sure you incorporate them into your cooking! They are very delicately flavored, and you’ll be able to taste the difference they make in your cooking, from basic to brilliant!
Storing Your Fresh Herbs
The brilliance of fresh herbs used in cooking can’t be rivaled. I mean, if you have the option of using fresh herbs in your cooking, why wouldn’t you, right? Having them is a delight for both cooks and gardeners since they have quite the amount to offer, both in fragrance and flavor! So why don’t we start talking about how to store and freeze your green herbs?
The Different Methods
We have three different methods to show you how to store and preserve your fresh herbs. They’re all relatively easy to do and require very little prep time for a very significant effect on your cooking later on!
You’re going to freeze the green herbs in their purest form – as a leaf! After you’ve washed and dried your leaves, strip them from their stems and line them in a baking tray, don’t let any overlap! There’s an exception for parsley and dill since they are lacy leaves. Place the tray into the freezer and let them freeze, and there you have it! Individual freeze-dried green herbs.
If you wanted another use for your ice trays, then here’s the perfect solution! After washing, chopping, and mincing your tender green herbs(like basil, chives, and cilantro), place them into their respective segments – or mix them for flavor combos, add water until the herbs are entirely covered, then place the tray into the freezer. It can’t get easier than that.
In Oils or Butter
Here’s the method that seems to fit best for those who really love the flavor combo of herb butter! Since oils are a great medium to preserve many herbs for baking and cooking, why not use it to store individual herbs, right? Preserving your herbs in oil may actually be better in retaining flavor since they don’t develop ice crystals, unlike freezing them in water.
You’re going to basically do the same thing that you would do with the water method earlier. You have the choice of doing it on a larger baking sheet instead. You can segment your herb oils or herb butter after laying it flat on the sheet and pouring oil or melted butter to cover the fresh herbs! Use these herb oils or butter while cooking for major boosts of flavor!
Health Benefits of Fresh Herbs
Herbs are incredibly beneficial to your health since they can contribute to preventing ailments like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases. Fresh herbs can also help reduce blood clots in your blood vessels, as well as offer anti-inflammatory and/or anti-tumor properties. Research is still ongoing, but some studies have already shown some of the following.
Helping Lower Cholesterol
Fenugreek, garlic(can be considered as an herb or spice), lemongrass, and linseed(or more commonly known as flax or flaxseed) can contribute to lowering one’s cholesterol levels. Though some of these may only help or take effect in the short-term. Garlic can also be helpful for those with slightly raised blood pressure.
Rich In Antioxidants
Since herbs are taken directly from plants, they are definitely rich in antioxidants. More so with cinnamon, cloves, oregano, sage, and thyme – they’re also the most commercially available. They can help with reducing your “bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins. Do keep in mind that it’s better to use fresh herbs rather than dried if you want the best effect.
Herbs are not the main ingredient when you’re cooking, so you have the choice of adding herbs to whatever food feels right to you! The sky’s the limit! You can add your herbs to stews, soups, bread, spreads, sauces, butter, marinades, salad dressings, yogurts, drinks, and vinegar! The uses of herbs are so versatile since they give so much flavor and aroma!