Herbs can be either wild or cultivated, but they are a class of plant that all have some basic common characteristics. In general usage, herbs are plants whose primary or added odorous or flavorful properties are utilized for garnishing and flavoring food, for the culinary or medicinal purpose, or for aromatics; excluding fruits and other vegetation grown primarily for their leaves, fruits, flowers, and wood. All herbs belong to the plant's Families: Lamiaceae (or mint family) – mints, parsley, tarragon, and saffron, Cimicaceae – pennyroyals, begonias, citrus family, tangerines, Melissa, annatto, and safflower, aceae – tansy, lily, and spikenard, and Oryzanaceae – begonias, rose, mint, thyme, mint, and basil. All herbs, in the order mentioned above, can be classified into thousands of categories, but there are many others. The most common herbs are as follows:
Fresh herbs like mint and Rosemary are used for seasoning and cooking. Many are even used in the making of teas. Most dried herbs, which are available in most grocery stores, are used in the manufacturing of teas, and they come in many varieties. Many recipes call for fresh herbs like Rosemary and mint.
For the flavored herb, the seeds are usually the more attractive part. Though some herbs have fleshy leaves, many have only grayish-green foliage. In general, herbs with grayish-green leaves are the less flavorful, and the smaller the leaf, the less aroma-producing it is.
Herbs have many uses. For flavoring soups, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings, you can take herbs that have flavor-producing leaves and grow them indoors. You can also take various smaller flowering plants, like a garden of basil, and grow them indoors. There are other herbs used for brewing, cooking, and medicine. The aromatic properties of the leaves are what give them their flavor.
Rosemary, mint, and thyme are three of the most widely used herbs for seasoning and cooking. As spices, they are good in sauteing, baking, and stewing. In addition, they make nice additions to your regular grocery list since they don't require much storage. If you grow your own herbs, you can even grow thyme and Rosemary plants from seed.
If you're not sure which herb to grow or buy, try a combination of two or three. Basil and sage are excellent choices because they don't compete with each other. Rosemary and thyme will also attract helpful birds to your garden. It's worth planting a little bit of each so that you'll always have a good supply of fresh herbs in your kitchen.
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