Herbally hooked

“Tell me something about you I don’t know”.. Well most do not know that I’ve taken courses and studied herbal medicine on the side of my studies in economics. When I was 16 I wrote a 60 page herbal guidebook, and every now and then I look through it for reference and in order to refresh my memory. Herbs are great little things, they don’t look as much, but the use and the flavours and fragrances you can get out of them are absolutely amazing. They put the oomph in the food and can cure a cough or a stomach problem in a swiffy. One thing I’m really looking forward to is to having a herbal garden of my own. I want to grow all sorts of herbs and I also want to have a Orangerie for more delicate herbs. I’ve been trying to match herbs that ca be used in both cooking as well as for medicine. Here follows a list of the herbs that are good to have for both 🙂

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum): Lots of sun and regular water but never a soaked pot should do the trick. Everyone knows basil is super great in salads and with all kinds of meat, but it is also good against cramps and internal minor inflammations, like diarrhea or nausea. There are better herbs against cough but I like basil tea and it can help if you have a sore throat or bronchitis.


Sage (Salvia Officinalis): In Northern Europe Sage has been considered a magically powerful herb for centuries. Really nice with red meat. As medicine it works as a mouthwash if you have sores in your mouth, you can also chew sage against bad breath. Internally it works similarly as basil, as it is anti-inflammatory. One interesting thing about sage is that it hinders excessive sweating and contains a lamiceae acids that is the effective ingredient in many herpes medicines.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) doesn’t have that many medicinal properties but looks beautiful and is great in salads and with wish or in yoghurtbased sauces to go with chicken or fish. The active constituents are the same as in other onions, sulfur compound and allium. I always feel better when I have a flu and I increase my intake of garlic and onion. My boyfriends family puts sliced onions on a plate next to the bed to open the nose to help breathing.

 

Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum). Some people dislike the taste of coriander, which I think is crazy but I have a solution: mix the cilantro with a little less than equal parts of mint. The mint seems to equalize the particular taste people dislike with cilantro. Coriander works, like the herbs above to increase appetite and cure minor cramps. I have lots of recipes that include coriander, because its so fresh and gives an instant asian feel to the food, mixed with lime and chili it is my most used herb in the kitchen.

Mint, (mentha sp.) ofcourse, to go with mojitos and to mix with coriander, it’s great in lots of foods and desserts, and I use it as tea when I feel like I’m getting the flu. There are many spieces, they all work as well, the peppermint is probably the strongest in flavour, mentha piperita. The most common here I think is Mentha Aquatica. To make peppermint tea just put herbs in a cup or in a coffee filter and pour hot (not boiling!) water over the filter 3-4 times.

You get the best flavour out of herbs if you tear them from tip to bottom.

Tarragon, (Artemisia Dracunculus), there’s two different kinds in Finland, French (sativa) and  Russian (inodora) . In France I’ve seen russian tarragon and it’s spreading like a virus, it’s growing at such a speed. And I think it’ll do well in my garden. Gardenders in France regard it as a weed and hacks it down like any other weed in the garden, for the moment it smells lovely but it is such a waste. I usually go and save some of it and make a nice oil out of it. Tarrgon is nice in sauces, like bearnaise and with meat. It makes great vinegar and is used in the french kitchen a lot.

Dill (Anethum Graveolens) is an essential part of any finnish kitchen. We use it in sour cream sauces to go with fish or chicken and is used when we boil crayfish. It’s really nice when making pickled cucumbers and no-one can argue its use when making gravad lax, a kind of preserved salmon. When I was a kid I learned that dill is good for colics and coughs. It also calms the stomach. As a tea it has a lulling effect, good before bedtime.

 

Rosemary, (Rosmarinus Officinalis) ah rosemary, one of my favourite herbs. The best way to take care of rosmary is simlilar to making an investment. Invest and forget 😉 Same goes with rosemary, just forget about it and soon you’ll have a whole hedge of it. Many use it to soothe aches and pains, and I make herbal oils with rosemary to use in food. It’s also nice in foccacias and other bread.

Lavender, (Lavandula Angustifolia) I use lavender for a lot. I make small pouches to put in the bathroom, where I emroided “squeeze me”, when squeezed the lavender blossoms get crushed and the scent spreads all over the bathroom. You can also make small satchels to put in your shoes. Crabtree&Evelyn has really nice scented drawer liners, paper that smells of lavender to put in your wardrobe drawers, great! I don’t use lavender too much in foods, allthough I know they go great with desserts.

Garlic,(allium sativum) the best for flu, Henritette Kress taught me that garliccloves on the soles of your feet cures the flu. I also learned as a kid that onions can be used for a similar purpose. Whenever a flu hits me, I try to eat as much garlic as possible. There are two purposes, one it contains everything the body needs to fight the flu, and also it keeps people away, so there is no risk of me passing it on. I use garlic in everything, and is a must in the kitchen. It’s very easy    to plant garlic, just stick a clove into the ground and the next year you’ll have a garlic 🙂

Thyme, we have wild thyme growing on the island, great in sauces, oils and salads. I find thyme good for hangovers for some reason and also for coughs as it really is a fighter against infections and coughs.

Lemon grass, use in soups and woks, also really nice in lemony drinks, like home made lemonade with vodka, add a couple of mint leaves and stir with a straw of lemon grass, yum!

 

Parsley, I eat tabbouleh and other very parsley heavy foods alot. Parsley contains a lot of iron and a,b and c-vitamin and is really good in stocks. Parsley is easy to freeze, just put chopped parsley in a ice-tray and pour water over it and freeze. Add the cube to soups or stocks when needed.

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