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What is the definition of a herb

The Oxford English Dictionary holds the definition of a herb under 2 contradictory descriptions:

  1. Any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume
  2. Any non woody seed bearing plant which dies down to the ground after flowering

In general I'm inclined to use the only first definition, otherwise, by following the second definition, bay is not a herb and and cabbage is!

Fresh herbs or dried herbs?

Most herbs are best fresh. A few, such as bay, parsley, oregano/ marjoram, thyme and mint are ok when dried, but still need to be renewing every year as they lose flavour quickly. Scribble a date on the container when you buy it; you'll be amazed how quickly time passes!

Growing your own herbs

If you have the opportunity then grow your own herbs. You don't need a garden, a pot or a window box will do perfectly. There is nothing like the satisfaction of picking herbs and taking them straight to the pot.

Where to buy unusual herbs

I have recently order various 'odd' herbs and spices from the Spice Shop, and they provided excellent service so may be worth a look if you are trying to obtain those hard to find items.

Chopping herbs

Whilst you can chop herbs using a sharp knife there are other ways of doing this, especially if you want the herbs chopped finely. Firstly, you can use a mezzaluna which is a knife consisting of a single or double curved blade with a handle on each end. It is often used for chopping herbs or very large single blade versions are sometimes used for pizza or pesto.

Mezzaluna means "half moon" in Italian, after the curved shape of the blade, and is the most common name used in the UK. Other names used include herb chopper or hachoir which is its French name. They may be found sold with a cutting board that has a shallow indentation in it, and marketed as a herb chopper.

Another gadget is a herb mill. These can come under various guises such as the rotary mill, press top chopper and a mill that twists. Personally I find that the rotary mill tends to mangle the herbs and the press top more suited to the coarse chopping of herbs. For fine chopping I like to use a twist mill - see illustration.

See also

Pages in category ‘Herbs’

The following 132 pages are in this category, out of 132 total.