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(About.com)   Fark Food Thread: Dried herbs and spices are convenient, but fresh ones are preferred.. right? Do you go through herbs quickly enough to always keep fresh ones on hand? Other ways to make fresh herbs last? Grow your own?   ( cookingfortwo.about.com) divider line
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1889 clicks; posted to Main » on 09 Jan 2014 at 5:00 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2014-01-09 05:09:14 PM  
2 votes:
I have half a dozen aero gardens, picked up for $10 each from a bankruptcy sale. Great for fresh herbs throughout the year. It is also very easy and cheap to build your own version with styrofoam coolers, thrift store aquarium pumps, air stones, and some cheap items from your local hydroponics store. I keep four large units outside in growing season.
2014-01-09 05:05:46 PM  
2 votes:
grow your own  and then you can make herb pastes and freeze them...have them on hand all year long

snip the herb, throw into a food processor with a little olive oil and puree it up.  scrape it into a zip lock AND LABEL IT---herbs tend to look all the same when you do this---then put it in the freezer.  fresh herbs all the time.
2014-01-09 04:24:10 PM  
2 votes:

fat aristotle: I'd love to but my apartment doesn't get direct sunlight.

You can get a full-spectrum light from a pet store or a store that sells lights, and your plants will grow like crazy.

My friend did that because he had to go to work at 5 a.m. during the winter.  His plants started growing like plants in the rainforest.

I think it cost like $15.  He bought a cheap light fixture from Home Depot and just laid it on the floor.  You can spend more, but he went for the cheapest.
2014-01-09 03:44:52 PM  
2 votes:
We use both.  The wintertime is tricky because I don't have a whole lot of appropriate places inside where they'll grow.  In the summer, though, oh baby.  My husband built me a tiered herb garden for the back deck.  This is at the beginning of last spring... by the middle of summer, this thing had exploded.  I was cutting things back to dry and preserve and freeze and I couldn't even keep up.

scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.netView Full Size
2014-01-09 03:38:38 PM  
2 votes:
I used to smoke it before it dried all the way out, but I quit that stuff a number of years ago.
2014-01-09 09:38:46 PM  
1 vote:

peacheslatour: You can't go wrong with thyme, rosemary and parsley.  I live in the Seattle area and our weather is similar.  Be careful about mint- it'll spread like wildfire, but it gets purple, lavender like flowers which the bees love!  I wish I could taste that honey!

Oh god, you're reminding me of the farmer's market I used to go to in San Francisco. There was a local honey seller who generally had at least 10 different single-sourced varieties on sale. My favorite was her blackberry honey, which was very dark and had a deep, musky flavor that really stood out, even in small amounts. I used to make a whole wheat loaf with chopped walnuts and blackberry honey that was absolutely divine. The sage honey was also very special.

Mint really is easy -- it grew like a weed around the house I grew up in. I remember my mother frequently sending me out to pick a few stalks to put in iced tea, and there's nothing like a homegrown mojito to cap off a beautiful summer day. Good to know I'll be able to grow thyme, since lemon thyme is never available at groceries and the flavor is impossible to duplicate by cheating.

One of the things I'm most excited about is that the new house is half a mile from a farm store that sells only things they grew/raised/butchered themselves, and a 15 minute drive from one of the biggest and longest-running open-air markets in England, which is open three days a week. For the first time in my life, I'm going to be able to know exactly where the vast majority of the food I eat comes from!

I think my fiancé is a little bewildered by the extent of my enthusiasm, but between that and the fact that there is absolutely no fast food or crappy pizza/chinese delivery to be had anywhere in the village, I'm confident that we'll both be vastly healthier in the space of a year. Not to mention spoiled rotten...
2014-01-09 09:03:24 PM  
1 vote:
If you are going to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil cubes, you can save a ton of time by "cube cooking".  As long as the cubes are kept in their own freezer bag, you are good to go.  Just toss a cube into your pot when you want one.  Other things to freeze include:

Red and white wines, not just for cooking, but to cool liquid wine in glasses without watering it down.

The same with coffee ice cubes to make iced coffee.

Blond (colored), caramel (colored) and chocolate (colored) quick roux.  Turn good food great with roux.

Whipping cream, liquid or whipped into divinity-like meringue drops before freezing.  Buttermilk, too.

Tomato paste and tomato sauce.  A normal ice cube is 1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons.

Mashed potatoes, as well as other mashed vegetables, like cauliflower, celery root, beets, parsnips, carrots, avocado, and squash will really liven up a soup or stew.


Fruit juices.
2014-01-09 07:05:25 PM  
1 vote:

praxcelis: Basil, however, must be grown indoors.

i50.photobucket.comView Full Size

Nah, you want to grow it outdoors, in a DWC bucket.

/The plants in soil were the mothers
//The tomato in hydro was 9 feet down over the railing, downstairs neighbors could just pick from that section and I picked from the top. Still had leftovers.
//Basil OOZED oil from the leaves.
2014-01-09 06:46:21 PM  
1 vote:

Sass-O-Rev: I'm a herbicidal maniac and not to be trusted around any sort of potted or gardened plant; I can kill even the toughest. But my entire front/side yard is wild thyme, and it is the most wonderful smelling, beautiful ground cover you can imagine. And lovely to sprinkle into stews, etc.

Thyme is my favorite, hands down. If I had to pick only one herb to use for the rest of my life it would be thyme.
2014-01-09 06:46:09 PM  
1 vote:
 I'm surprised someone hasn't pointed this out...

Fresh herbs are cartainly wonderful, but dried have greater intensity of flavor.  So, when I am going for subtle,  I use fresh.  When I want more of an herbal blast, I use dried.  Certain Italian sauces need dried oregano for maximum flavor.  Pesto, on the other hand, wants fresh basil. Salsa needs fresh cilantro, but stewed tomatoes cry out for dried.  Fresh dill is necessary for making dill pickles, but dried does well in tzaziki sauce.for gyros.  It all depends.
2014-01-09 06:27:12 PM  
1 vote:

Jekylman: tricycleracer: Basil is the easiest thing to grow.  It gets real sad looking and screams at you to water it days before it will actually croak.

Here in Southern California, cilantro and mint are the easiest things to grow. You can't get rid of mint and cilantro will sprout despite your best efforts.

Also in the garden:
vast swaths of rosemary
Also use lime tree leaves in an herb-like manner.

keep mint in pots or it will take over.
/the hard way.
//would you like some tea
2014-01-09 06:09:53 PM  
1 vote:

TheShavingofOccam123: Mr.Hawk: Shazam999: Mr.Hawk: Spoiled where I live. My herbs can really grow outside all year (some months more than others of course). Basil is the toughest to keep going it seems. There are no natural predators (rabbits, deer and such) to worry about.

All basil will eventually succumb to fusarium wilt.  But they'll start to taste like crap before that.  Only young plants taste good.

Sweet! I was looking for a new band name!

This is why I love Fark. I could never figure out why my tomatoes wilted out and never came back regardless of watering or fertilizings...fusarium wilt.

There is growing interest in using Fusarium wilt as a form of biological control. Certain pathogenic strains of F. oxysporum could be released to infect and control invasive weed species. This type of control (called a mycoherbicide) would be more targeted than herbicide applications, without the associated problems of chemical use. In addition. F. oxysporum may compete with other soil fungi that act as pathogens of important crops. Introducing specific strains of F. oxysporum that are not pathogenic (or non-infectious mutants of pathogens) to nearby crops could take nutrients from other potential disease-causing fungi.

Thank you Shazzam. Now I won't feel so guilty when I stare at my poor tomato plants....

Try F. Wilt resistant varieties (they'll have an F designation).  Also not sure where you live but high humidity can cause problems too.  Try not to get the leaves wet when watering, also you can plant tomatoes super deep (pinch off the lower leaves from the stem, plant 6-12 inches of the stem) as they'll make roots from the buried stem).
2014-01-09 05:24:17 PM  
1 vote:
Not so fast, Freshy Fresh Subby.

Dried parsley has its place. So does granulated onion. The fresh items of these two are too overpowering (I guess it can be blamed on oils and other liquids in them) for lots of recipes. Additionally, I think dried parsley tastes completely different than fresh parsley. No high notes like fresh, just a nice earthy layer underneath every other taste.

/I am worried about the amount of dried parsley and granulated onions I use and how often I use them.
/don't get me started on bay leaf
2014-01-09 05:20:48 PM  
1 vote:
I use both depending on what the dish is as they definitely both have their uses.

Anyways, if you really like fresh herbs and have the room go get a T5 fixture from your local hydro store or the interwebs. They're pretty inexpensive, and very low cost to run. I have a recessed area underneath some glass-fronted cabinets in my kitchen that's a 4 bulb/4ft long model where there's one hung at. Total dimensions are like 52"x13"x3 inches. Put some plants underneath it and BOOM! In home fresh kitchen herb garden year round.

Mine isn't used for that right now though. That was my original intention but I ended up putting some random succulents underneath there for the time being.. Herbs are gonna go in soon though. Entertaining the thought of getting some very small plastic container to just put a little hydroponic RDWC system right there. Quick, easy to maintain, VERY little waste and no to pricey to put in.
2014-01-09 05:20:33 PM  
1 vote:
i get cilantro and dill fresh every time i go to the store.   i get basil and rosemary fresh when I plan on using it.

otherwise, I use dry oregano, bay leaves, and thyme.

/ other herbs I would buy fresh for the thing I plan on making.
// i have tried to grown my own, but it always dies or tastes weird after a while.  my basil plant was unstoppable, and I regularly harvested it, but after a few months it tasted bitter.  after a year and trying all sorts of internet advice to get the flavor back, it died, and i said, good riddance, maud.  (i named it maud, i always give my plants monosyllabic names.  easier than saying "the basil plant".  however, i never use the plant's name in public, it is merely an internal reference, to save space in the old brainy-brain, who I call herb, but his real name is bob, with two "o"s)
2014-01-09 05:19:10 PM  
1 vote:

Honest Bender: FYI, most herbs grow crazy fast. I'd be surprised if you could use all of, say, basil before more grew.

Indeed.  We grow our own basil.  By the end of fall, its a friggin' hedge.

Of course, we can just make a ton of pesto and freeze it.
2014-01-09 05:19:07 PM  
1 vote:
When we had more space I grew more herbs. Now I just grow saffron.
2014-01-09 05:18:37 PM  
1 vote:
Rosemary bushes around the house.  We usually have 3 or 4 large basil plants on hand but were down to one right now in the greenhouse.  Sage plant died so need a new one.  Got a lot of mint that we never seem to use.  Wish we had thyme and a tree for bay leaves.
2014-01-09 05:18:27 PM  
1 vote:
I, too, have a whole bunch of fresh ones in pots. They all grow like weeds in the summer months, out on the deck. But they're kind of a pain to keep alive over the winter (don't even try with basil).

I hadn't thought of using a grow light. Suppose I should.

Anyway, fresh herbs are the tits. They make an immense difference in my daube de boeuf provencal and my lemon-oregano chicken.

/also, fresh-cracked pepper
//and real garlic
2014-01-09 05:15:48 PM  
1 vote:
Whatever. Fresh is nice, but many dried spices can be found way cheaper than buying McCormick's overpriced stuff if you look in Asian and Hispanic stores.
2014-01-09 05:10:26 PM  
1 vote:

canavar: grow your own  and then you can make herb pastes and freeze them...have them on hand all year long

snip the herb, throw into a food processor with a little olive oil and puree it up.  scrape it into a zip lock AND LABEL IT---herbs tend to look all the same when you do this---then put it in the freezer.  fresh herbs all the time.

excellent idea...I never remember to do this
2014-01-09 05:09:06 PM  
1 vote:
I have an herb garden, but growing anything in the Texas heat is an asswhip. Gotta hand-water the pots constantly, and that's just to keep the things alive (not thriving.) Yes, I've tried the moisture-retaining soils and the heat-tolerant herbs, but that limits what you can grow. i get some woody basil and a ton of spearmint, but everything else is hit or miss. I choose to avoid the scrutiny that comes with indoor grow lights.
2014-01-09 05:08:02 PM  
1 vote:

Gonz: I grow my own cilantro

2014-01-09 05:06:53 PM  
1 vote:
I grow a bunch of different herbs in the long box on the porch in the summer and we just got a dehydrator for christmas so I'm going to attempt to dry them next fall. I love fresh in the house but I can't seem to keep them alive inside.
2014-01-09 05:06:27 PM  
1 vote:
Grow my own.  Dry them in the fall.  Sometimes you want fresh, sometimes you want dry (herbes de provence)

I made a 3' x 1' bed on wheels that I can plant everything in, then wheel to wherever has the right sun on the deck.

This year I duplicated my Grandmother's herb salt recipe
Sea salt combined w/ thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, dill.  Great all-purpose seasoning, especially good w/ broiled whole fish.
2014-01-09 05:01:36 PM  
1 vote:
Basil is the easiest thing to grow.  It gets real sad looking and screams at you to water it days before it will actually croak.
2014-01-09 04:04:16 PM  
1 vote:

fat aristotle: naughtyrev: fat aristotle: Gonz: I grow my own cilantro, basil, parsley, and thyme. Oh, and mint.

Fresh herbs are super easy to grow, and taste exponentially better IMO.

I'd love to but my apartment doesn't get direct sunlight.

Mine doesn't either, so I got one of these. Works great.

I've read about those but didn't know anyone who has actually tried it. I'll have to consider that.

Here's mine with about 3 weeks of growth on it:
i.imgur.comView Full Size

The basil runs riot, so you have to keep it constantly plucked.
2014-01-09 03:43:33 PM  
1 vote:
Fresh herbs in the growing season, dried herbs from the garden during the winter
2014-01-09 03:39:17 PM  
1 vote:
I always have parsley. It keeps for a long time in the fridge. Cilantro and basil I'd like to have but I can't keep them from rotting so fast.
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