Food and Nutrition

Spice Up Your Summer Cooking with Home-Grown Herbs

| by Mitzi Dulan

Looking for a way to “spice” up your cooking this summer? The best way to make fresh, summer cooking even more delicious is to use herbs grown in your own garden. If you’re not a gardener, no need to be intimidated; growing herbs is surprisingly simply. Follow these simple steps to get your herb garden growing!

1. Choose your favorite herb seeds. It may be best to choose herbs from the same species because they have similar growing needs. For example, lavender, rosemary, dill, and oregano all need bright light, good drainage, and moderate temperatures. You can do some research on-line to find out which herbs are in the same species.
2. Choose a pot with good drainage and fill with regular potting soil.
3. Plant your herb seeds following the directions on package. Individual varieties of herbs may need more space or be planted deeper in the soil.
4. Place pot in an area that will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily (or according to the directions on the seed package)
5. Herbs need only light watering. Mist with a spray bottle every other day.

Need help choosing which herbs to plant? Here is a list of some popular herbs and uses.

Basil: The sweetness with subtle spiciness is known best for playing a star role in many Mediterranean dishes. Its flavor is paired well with garlic and often used pesto.
Chives: A relative of the onion, chives bring the same flavor without the harsh bit of the onion. Because the flavor is mostly lost in drying, fresh chives are ideal for raw consumption.
Cilantro: This is very popular in Mexican cooking but is also part of some Asian dishes. Cilantro has a slightly peppery taste and is paired well with spicy peppers used in Mexican cooking.
Dill Weed: The licorice flavor is typically used in pickling but is also popular for dips, soups, or over vegetables. Dried dill will keep for a few months if stored in a dry, dark place; the seeds will keep almost forever!
Oregano: This spice is common in many types of cuisine: Mexican, Italian, Greek, and Spanish. Oregano is actually a member of the mint family and works well in soups, on vegetables, or to season meat.
Parsley: As one of the most versatile herbs, parsley has a mild and un-dominating (but complementary) flavor. It combines well with almost any herb and is often added to plated dishes for ornamentation.

What are some of your favorite herbs? What herb combinations do you like to use in your summer cooking?

Research Assistance by Kaylee O’Connell