They are nature’s aromatic gifts. Diverse, tasty and healthy, fresh herbs are an indispensable part of our everyday life and play a special role in our kitchens. According to recipe, taste and season, a wide variety of kitchen herbs or even wild herbs are used. And on tableware, textiles and more, the green all-rounders show their decorative side.
Caprese without basil leaves or mojito without a touch of fresh mint? Unimaginable. Without herbs, our daily food would be much poorer by many exciting taste combinations. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the USA there is even a special “holiday” for fans of versatile herbal cuisine. Since 2006, the “National Herb Day” has been celebrated on the first Sunday in May, with many botanical and culinary activities especially focused on the multi-faceted topic of herbs. Herbs are plant-based foods that are defined by their usefulness. They serve to improve the taste of food or make it easier to digest. Usually, the above-ground, non-woody plants or parts of plants are used as herbs. The transition to spices or vegetables is fluid. In general, all plants used as herbs have something in common: The essential oils are what give them their characteristic, unmistakable scent.
Delicate herbal notes not only wake up the appetite, but also memories of easy-going holidays or almost forgotten childhood delights. Engels Kerzen has captured the refreshing flavours of the popular kitchen herbs thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage in the “herbs in a glass” edition. And the best: After the candles have burned down, the jars can be used to store the herbs. A decorative bamboo lid serves as a protective closure.
Do it yourself!
To ensure that you always have your favourite herbs on hand, it is advisable to have a small supply of dried or frozen herbs. Ideally, however, fresh herbs should be harvested shortly before use. If you have a garden or terrace, it is best to set up your own herb’s corner. Inexperienced gardeners can get help from companies like TDJ Stadtgärtner. They deliver seed bombs, seeds or whole plants with precise instructions. And even in the smallest flat, you don’t have to forego tasty urban farming. With Véritable’s smart indoor gardens, you can grow, harvest and enjoy fresh herbs all year round. Lighting and irrigation are automatically controlled so that the plants have ideal growing conditions.
For those who don’t have green fingers, the “Grow-It” herb pot from RigTig is the perfect product. It has inbuilt drainage and space for extra water in the bottom, so the plant’s roots have access to water when needed. With automatic watering and a water tank that lasts for several weeks, the plant pots by Botanium are also made for growing fresh herbs yourself with minimal effort. Added to this is the elegant Scandinavian design, which turns the containers into unusual decorative objects, even on a well laid table.
Herbs around the world
With their enormous variety, herbs define the unmistakable taste of national cuisines. From basil, the star of Italian cuisine, to shiso (also known as perilla), a refreshing all-purpose spice for Japanese dishes, to the leaves of the sassafras tree, which, when processed into filé powder, determine the exotic flair of Creole and Cajun cuisine. In Southeast Asia, lemon balm and verbena, kaffir limes leaves and coriander refine soups, curries and the like with their delicate citrus aromas. Not to forget lemongrass, of which there are over 50 species. Lemon myrtle, on the other hand, is the best-known ingredient of the so-called Bushtucker cuisine, which is inspired by the food of the Australian Aborigines.
There are many practical kitchen tools available to help with cutting, chopping and mincing to ensure that the healthy herb cuisine works at home. With the Graef multi chopper, home-made pesto is no problem, even for the inexperienced. Special fresh-keeping boxes guarantee that the herbs stay nice and fresh in the fridge until the next use. In the freezer, on the other hand, herbs can be stored for months; when dried, it is best to put them in a tightly sealed container.
One question still remains to be answered: Should herbs be cooked in the dish or not? Delicate, fine-leaved herbs such as dill, chives, coriander or lemon balm are best chopped just before serving and added to the food, otherwise their aroma is lost. Herbs with firm leaves – thyme, rosemary, oregano or bay leaf – can be cooked for longer. The same applies to all of them: Herbs are small bombs of vital substances, as they contain an above-average amount of vitamins and antioxidants.
Aromatic freshness boost
As real multi-talents, herbs are also the perfect match for many drinks. Self-made lemonades guarantee the ideal refreshing boost on hot summer days. Lavender, woodruff, thyme, rosemary or sage are ideal for flavouring. Add lemon juice, chill for a few hours and you’re ready to go. For those who prefer tangy beverages, the iSi Twist’n Sparkle can create a vitalising refreshment in no time at all.
Whether with or without alcohol – various herbs add the finishing touch to our favourite cocktails. In addition to rum, lime juice, white cane sugar and soda water, fresh mint leaves are the key ingredient for the classic mojito. It can be served perfectly in the bulbous glasses from Cookut. Would you like more “Cuisine Style Cocktails”? This is when ingredients are used for the drinks that you would otherwise expect to find in the kitchen. Why not try a fruity orange-thyme Daiquiri or a Matinée Martini that surprises with sage leaves?
In addition to all their culinary benefits, herbs are extremely decorative contemporaries. Herb pots can easily replace flower arrangements on the table. The tasty ingredients also look great as decorations on a wide variety of table and kitchen items. For a relaxed barbecue, napkins from IHR are a visual treat with basil, thyme, sage and rosemary. Add a small bundle of the real herbs and it becomes a treat for all the senses. The tea towel from Frohstoff comes in a chive design. The detailed motif is lovingly hand-printed onto the robust linen using a screen-printing process.
Dibbern tastefully presents kitchen herbs on the Fine Bone China plates “Herbaticum” and Münder Email has the garden series “Herbal dream” in its range. On trays, drinking bottles, chopping boards and even on the knife blade, herb motifs signal freshness and aroma. Invitingly arranged, the favourite herbs are always ready to hand for the next use in the serving tray by AdHoc or in the garden shelf by TDJ Stadtgärtner. Versatile, healthy, regional, tasty, spicy, interesting, varied – herbs are the ingredients of unlimited possibilities. Charlemagne (768 to 814) already knew this in his times and summed it up as follows: “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of the cook”. Because herbs have had their firm place in the medicine cabinet for thousands of years. But that remains another story…
Header image: TDJ Stadtgärtner/photo: Robert Schlossnickel