Fresh herbs like mint, basil, and tarragon have long been prized throughout the world for their curative properties (mint for indigestion, basil for kidney problems, and tarragon for snake bites). This guide focuses on the herbs' culinary applications. Read on for a list of herbs that are commonly used to create delicious dishes, as well as expert tips on choosing, storing and cooking with fresh herbs.
You either love cilantro or hate it. Cilantro's flavor is described by some as bright and citrusy, and as soapy by others. This herb pops up in the cuisines of India, Mexico, and Vietnam in dishes like dhania chutney, salsa, and pho.
In the United States, the two most widely available varieties of mint are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint has a strong, cooling aftertaste due to the high concentration of menthol; spearmint is lighter and sweeter to the palate. Lesser-known types of mint include ginger, apple, and curly mint, which, when used in large quantities, impart the flavor that is connected to its name.
This unsung hero can do more than just garnish a plate. In French and Italian cooking, many a stock, stew, and soup calls for bouquet garni flavored by this herb. Generally speaking, flat parsley has a peppery bite whereas the curly kind is relatively bland. And as their names denote, they have textural differences, too.
Basil is the most commonly used herb in the United States. Peppery with a mild anise flavor, Italian basil is relatively sweeter than its purple counterpart.
Oregano's hint of sweetness combined with some spiciness adds warmth to any dish. Fresh oregano can be difficult to find in the marketplace and because dried oregano has a stronger flavor than the fresh, use it sparingly.
Rosemary has a strong, even pungent, pinelake fragrance and flavor. Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary gained popularity with Italian cooking in Tuscan favorites like schiacciata and a flatbread that is sometimes made savory with rosemary-infused oil.
We know there are over 100 different types of herbs in the world, if you’d like to learn more, stay tuned as we discuss in detail!
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