Learn how to grow and prepare herbs.
Find out how to recognise and grow a variety of common and exotic culinary plants. Get knowledge and enjoy the pleasures of preparing novel, creative recipes using herbs. Discover how to preserve flavour by drying and other means (eg. herb oils, salts, vinegars).
Forever alter your cooking style
The majority of people today only seldom utilise herbs in their cooking, but as your knowledge grows, you may discover a whole new world of culinary possibilities.
When chefs and professional cooks comprehend how diverse cultivars of a herb can have minor flavour variations, they can accomplish so much more. The location of the herb’s cultivation, the season, the rate of development, the sections that are harvested, and the time of year can all affect the flavour.
You can expand your knowledge and opportunities for producing and using culinary herbs by becoming more familiar with a wider variety of herbs than you have in the past.
One of our students studying culinary herbs commented:
“Interesting and it has greatly increased my knowledge of herbs,” D. Christian is a student of culinary herbs.
There are 8 lessons in this course:
- Scope and Nature of Culinary Herbs
- Herbs and Horticulture
- Accurately Identifying Herbs
- Plant Classification, binomial system
- Finding the group a herb fits into -Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons, Plant Families
- Pronouncing Plant Name
- Resources – information contacts (ie. nurseries, seed, clubs etc.
- pH Requirements
- Improving solid
- Potting mixes
- Plant Nutrition and Fertilizers
- Water Management for Herbs
- Diagnosing Plant Health Problems
- Pests, Disease and Environmental Problems
- Planting, staking, and establishing herb plants, etc.
- Growing Herbs
- Propagation of herbs
- Seed Propagation
- Cutting Propagation
- Potting Media
- Division, Separation, Layering
- Rejuvenation of Perennials
- Designing a Culinary Herb Garden
- Creating a Kitchen Garden
- Planning a Fragrant Herb Garden
- Companion Planting in Your Design
- Cooking With Herbs
- General Guidelines for Using Herbs in Cooking
- Harvesting Herbs; roots, leaves, seed, fruits
- Handling after Harvest
- Drying Herbs
- Hints for Using a Range of Selected Herbs in Cooking
- Herbs For Garnish
- Herbal Teas: What & how to use different herbs
- Herb Vinegars, oils, butters, cheeses, salts, sugars, honey,, etc
- Herb Confectionary, Cakes, etc.
- Selected Herb Recipes
- Using Herbs with Fruit
- Most Commonly Grown Varieties.
- Review of many Common Culinary herbs, including their culture and culinary use
- Over 20 herbs reviewed in detail, incl. Alliums
- Many additional herbs summarized
- Other Important Groups.
- Lamiaceae (mint family) herbs
- Lemon Scented Herbs and their uses
- The Basils
- Origanum species
- The Lesser Grown Varieties
- Arctium lappa
- Capparis; and many more
- Using Australian Native Plants as Flavourings
- Special Assignment
- A PBL Project on a selected genus of culinary herbs
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school’s tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
- Explain the system for naming plants, the main families into which herbs fall, and the resources available to growers of culinary herbs.
- Explain the best ways to handle the cultural demands placed on culinary herbs.
- Explain the various sexual and asexual reproduction techniques, as well as how cutting material is handled and how seeds are typically stored.
- Describe how to utilise herbs in cooking and which herbs go well with particular cuisines.
- Talk about the most popular types of herbs used in cuisine.
- Compare various culinary herbs that belong to the same plant family.
- A variety of lesser-known culinary herb types are discussed.
- Describe the functions of several culinary herbs within a certain category of herb plants.
HERB HARVESTING GUIDELINES
When the oils are at their highest level, harvest the herb leaves. This can occur at any time between late spring and early autumn, generally right before flower set. Up to 75% of the season’s growth can be harvested.
- Autumn is the time of year when herbs are removed for their roots.
- Many species of flowers, such as those from chamomile and borage, can also be employed. They need to be picked just as the flowers are beginning to open.
- Harvesting herbs, such as dill, for their seeds should be done after the seed pods turn grey. So be sure to act quickly—before the pods separate.
- Before they fully bloom, gather herb flowers like chamomile and borage. When the plant has enough foliage to sustain growth, start harvesting the herb.
Harvesting Tips for Herbs
- Harvest prior to blossoming to maximise leaf output.
- Early in the morning, once the dew has dried, harvest.
- Flowers should be picked before they fully open since the flavour and oil concentration are at their peak.
- After the first frost, avoid harvesting leaves because doing so could harm the plant.
- Herbs should be pruned back in the early summer to promote fresh growth.
Harvesting Resources for Food and Medicine
Plant components like leaves, petals, roots, bark, bulbs, and other parts are frequently used in cooking and making herbal medicines. But, in order to receive the best effects from these herbs, they must be carefully picked, handled, and most importantly, collected at the right time of year.
- Always gather leaves in the middle of the morning on clear days, after the dew has dried. Collect the majority of your medications as the plant begins to bloom. The second year of growth is the optimal time to collect leaves from biennial plants. Spread the leaves out on a spotless, dry surface to dry. Until they are completely dry, stir them occasionally. Remove any leaves with blackened stems from moisture and any leaves that have turned green.
- Flowers should be picked up as soon as they bloom. Similar to drying leaves, only save the ones that retain their original colour.
- Bulbs should be harvested as soon as the plant’s leaves turn brown (usually in autumn). The bulb’s outer scales should be removed, and it should be dried using artificial heat, but not above around 37°C. The bulb may need to be sliced into slices so that it can dry.
- It is best to harvest bark in the spring or autumn. Remove the outer bark first because it is typically needed. It is best to dry most barks in sunshine (but not wild cherry).
- Gather seeds as soon as they are ready. Only seeds that are larger and more developed are beneficial.
Grow Your Own Tea and Prepare It
There are a few things to keep in mind while growing your own herbs to use in teas. First of all, some herbs are perennials and some are annuals. Typically, perennials have woody stems and include herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Annuals have more meat, like basil and coriander. The longevity of herbs, however, can vary depending on where you live. Several annual varieties thrive in warmer climates where they have an endless growing season. They are less likely to survive the winter temperatures in colder places and will eventually disappear.
Utilize species plants rather than cultivated types of herbs because it is believed that the latter have fewer active ingredients (in some cases).
The climate in your area plays a role in the quality of the herbs as well. The majority of plants require a lot of sunlight to encourage oil production. Herbs have distinct fragrances that come from their essential oils, which also give meals and teas their flavour when consumed. Place your herbs where they will benefit most from exposure to sunlight if you are growing them in a cooler climate.
Most perennial herbs thrive in a warm, sunny location, but many do not require very rich soils. Several herbs, including those that make deliciously reviving teas like mint, rocket, parsley, and mustard, prefer a semi-shaded location and moist soils. There are numerous species of some herbs, such as the mints, each with a distinctive flavour. Why not cultivate a variety of kinds for various teas?
Horseradish and mint both have extremely invasive root systems, therefore it is better to grow them in pots to prevent them from encroaching on garden areas. Several other herbs can benefit from containers as well because you can move them about to receive the sunlight and, if necessary, store them in a greenhouse for the winter. If there is room, it is typically advisable to grow different species in separate containers because they may grow at different speeds. Open-air annuals and delicate perennials can be winter-protected with a cloche or cold frame.
Apart from those that require moisture, avoid over-watering the herbs because this makes the leaves wet and decreases their potency when used in herbal tea or medicine.
Several well-known plants for tea
- Herbs – lemon balm, chamomile, fennel, mint, catnip, oregano, sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, chives, dill, lavender, basil, lemongrass, echinacea
- Trees and shrubs (leaves) – blackberry, raspberry, Backhousia citriodora, birch, lemon myrtle, lemon or orange verbena, linden (Tilia cordata).
- Trees and shrubs (flowers) – rose, elderberry, citrus, hibiscus.
- Garden weeds – dandelions, nettles, goldenrod (Solidago spp.), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), purslane (Portulaca oleracea), wild mustard, red clover, milk thistle (Silybum marianum).
- Annuals and perennials – Marigold (Calendula officinalis), chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum or C. morifolium) nasturtium, pansies, violets, honeysuckle (flowers only), carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus), alliums, hollyhock (Althaea rosea), sunflower.
How to Prepare Tea
Teas use a variety of plant components, so if your favourite herb unexpectedly blooms, don’t worry—you can still use those flowers. The softer tissues of the plant make the ideal tea ingredients. The fleshy developing tips of shoots, leaves, and flowers are examples of them. It takes more time and effort to break down the roots and toughened woody stems, therefore they are not good for a rapid brew. Furthermore, you won’t want to take out the plant’s roots if you intend to maintain it for its foliage.
You only need your herbal plant components and boiling water to create tea. Typically, one cup of water should be added for every tablespoon of herbs. For one ounce, or 28 grammes, of herb, that works out to about 250ml of water. For herbs with a milder flavour, you might use up to three tablespoons. To impart the herb’s flavour or essence into the water, cover the plant with boiling water and let it steep for a while. Place the herbs in a separate pan and pour the hot water over them if you’re heating the water in a pan rather than a kettle. Let the herbs to soak without putting the pan back on the heat of the stove.
WHAT ROAD WILL THIS PATH TAKE YOU?
Your knowledge of how to make food taste different and better will grow as a result of learning how to grow and use culinary herbs.
The very least that this course might be able to accomplish for you and your family is to provide you with a more varied diet.
For the majority of students, however, the application of what they learn will go beyond their own personal use, enhancing their chances for success in business and the workforce.
- The food that chefs and caterers produce will be able to take on new flavours.
- The ability to develop and market a greater selection of goods will allow herb nurseries and herb shops to better position their products for sale.
- This course may serve as motivation for producers of herbal goods to create new goods.
- This could be the first of several courses leading to a higher qualification, the beginning of a business venture, or advancing one’s profession.