Are There Really 21 Herbs For U.K. Gardens & Kitchens? This Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg, But Read More Here.
So what are my 21 Herbs For U.K. Gardens & Kitchens? I’m starting with a very simple, that you can easily grow or buy in pots in many supermarkets. That’s basil. It’s one I love, some of the others I’m not so keen on. for example lavender seems to be on the menu at many top restaurants, but personally I dislike it.
Basil, originating from India and Southeast Asia, is renowned for its sweet and slightly peppery flavour with hints of clove and anise. This versatile herb is a staple in Mediterranean and Thai cuisines.
In Italian cooking, basil takes centre stage in the iconic pesto sauce. It also complements tomatoes, making it a key ingredient in Caprese salads and margherita pizzas.
Rosemary, native to the Mediterranean region, boasts a robust, pine-like flavour with earthy and citrus undertones. It’s a favourite in European cuisines, especially when roasting meats, particularly lamb. Additionally, rosemary adds depth to roasted potatoes and focaccia bread, infusing them with its fragrant aroma. I also sometimes add it when I confit duck legs.
Thyme, with its origins in the Mediterranean and Europe, offers a subtle earthy taste with notes of mint and lemon. This herb is a staple in French cuisine, often used in hearty stews like Bouillabaisse and classic dishes such as Coq au Vin. It’s also excellent for seasoning roasted vegetables and grilled fish. Its another one I sometimes add to a confit duck dish.
Sage is another originating from the Mediterranean, it has a savoury, slightly peppery flavour with hints of eucalyptus and citrus. In British cooking, it is a key herb in stuffing for roast poultry and a traditional component of sage and onion stuffing for Sunday roasts. It’s also used to flavour sausages and butter sauces.
Parsley, also hails from the Mediterranean. It boasts a fresh, slightly peppery taste with hints of earthiness. This herb plays a role as both a garnish and a flavour enhancer. It’s a classic garnish for many dishes and is a crucial component of Middle Eastern tabbouleh and various Italian pasta sauces.
Parley is the herb I used to grow for the Christmas market. We used to grow a 120 ft long tunnel full of it. We’d cut it in bunches, put an elastic band around each bunch and put 12 bunches in a recycled tomato chip (box). It was backbreaking work but a very profitable one. My gross margin for this crop held the record for the best on the nursery.
Coriander, native to the Mediterranean, coriander has a citrusy, some say slightly soapy flavour. It’s a versatile herb in global cuisine. In Mexican and Indian dishes, coriander adds freshness to salsas, curries, and chutneys. It’s also a vital ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, featured in dishes like Thai green curry. We also add it to salads either as a mature leaf or microgreens. Home grown it has a much more intense flavour than anything bought in a supermarket.
Mint’s origins lie in Europe, and it has a refreshing, cool taste with sweet and slightly earthy notes. It’s frequently used to garnish drinks like the classic British mint cocktails, mojiotas and Moroccan mint tea. In desserts, mint pairs splendidly with chocolate, and it’s a must-have herb in Tabbouleh and Greek tzatziki sauce.
I’ve left the best bit to last. There are dozens of mints; apple, spear, lemon, etc.
Oregano, originating in the Mediterranean, has a bold, slightly spicy flavour with hints of balsamic and citrus. It’s a hallmark of Italian cuisine, particularly in pizza and pasta sauces. Additionally, oregano enhances the flavour of grilled meats and vegetables.
Dill is native to the Mediterranean and boasts a delicate, anise-like taste with hints of citrus. In Scandinavian cuisine, dill is a prominent herb, used in gravlax (cured salmon), pickles, and sauces. It also adds a bright and fresh element to seafood dishes.
Chives, native to Europe and Asia, have a mild, oniony flavour with subtle hints of garlic. They are a versatile herb, often used to garnish baked potatoes, omelettes, and soups. Chives also find their place in creamy sauces and as a finishing touch on various dishes.
Lavender, originating in the Mediterranean, has a floral, slightly sweet taste with hints of pine and citrus. This herb is primarily used in desserts, imparting a unique and aromatic flavour to dishes like lavender-infused ice cream, shortbread cookies, and custards. It’s also used sparingly in teas and savoury dishes for a subtle floral note.
Tarragon, native to Eurasia, has a subtle anise flavour with hints of vanilla and citrus. It’s a key ingredient in French cuisine, particularly in Béarnaise sauce and fines herbes blends. Tarragon also pairs well with chicken and seafood, adding depth to dishes like chicken tarragon and tarragon-infused vinegar.
Bay leaves come from the Mediterranean and offer a subtle, woodsy taste with hints of clove and nutmeg. These leaves are used to infuse flavour in soups, stews, and sauces, especially in classic French dishes like bouillabaisse and béchamel sauce. They’re typically added whole and removed before serving.
Marjoram, native to the Mediterranean, has a mild, sweet flavour with hints of citrus and pine. In Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, it’s used to season lamb, poultry, and tomato-based dishes. Marjoram also enhances the flavour of herb blends like Herbes de Provence.
Fennel, native to the Mediterranean, has a mild, anise-like flavour with notes of licorice and citrus. It’s used in a variety of ways, from being roasted as a vegetable to being a key ingredient in Italian sausages and salads. Fennel seeds are also used in spice blends and for making herbal tea.
Ginger comes from Southeast Asia and has a spicy, slightly sweet flavour with hints of citrus and earthiness. In British and Asian cuisines, ginger is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It adds warmth to curries, stir-fries, and gingerbread.
Turmeric, native to South Asia, has a warm, earthy flavour with a mild peppery kick. It’s a staple in Indian cuisine and is known for its health benefits. Turmeric gives a golden hue to curries, rice, and is often used in turmeric lattes.
Lemongrass, originating in Southeast Asia, has a lemony, citrusy taste with hints of ginger and mint. It’s used primarily in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, where it imparts a bright, fresh flavour to soups, curries, and marinades.
Chervil, native to Europe, has a delicate, mild anise-like flavour with hints of parsley and licorice. It’s often used in French cuisine as part of the fines herbes blend and in salads. Chervil is prized for its subtle and elegant flavour, adding a delicate touch to dishes.
Fenugreek, (Trigonella foenum-graecum), is an herb native to the Mediterranean region and South Asia. It has been cultivated for thousands of years and holds a significant place in both culinary and traditional medicine practices.
I know many people in the UK don’t grow fenugreek. So perhaps I need to say a bit more. about it. So here’s a link to How To Grow Fenugreek.
These herbs have rich histories and diverse culinary applications, making them essential in kitchens throughout the United Kingdom and worldwide.
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