Not only are fresh herbs flavourful and healthy, but they also add an extra dimension to recipes that make the dish come alive.
I often grow my own and find certain herbs such as basil, mint, chives, rosemary and thyme very easy to tend. With adequate bright sun and watering when needed, herbs can be grown on a windowsill or in your garden. For those who may not want to try their hand at growing their own, fresh herbs are abundant in every market these days.
Caring for herbs
Wash them right before using to preserve freshness. Store them refrigerated in a plastic bag or glass of water, stems down, similar to a bunch of flowers. This will keep your leafy herbs fresh as long as you keep the leaves dry.
Leafy herbs such as basil, parsley, cilantro, mint and dill can be kept for about five days. Drier herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage and tarragon can be stored in a plastic bag for a few weeks. Basil, cilantro and dill are especially sensitive to water and are best wrapped in a cloth or paper towel before storing.
Health properties of herbs
Herbs are very healing and contain antioxidants, aid in digestion and are packed with vitamins. For instance, fresh basil provides vitamins D, K, C and omega-3 fatty acids. Holy basil contains eugenol, which is known to fight cancer.
Dried herbs, on the other hand, have about a third of the vitamins of fresh ones and often become stale and flavourless over time. I recommend you throw out dried herbs after a year or less.
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