Pictures of herbs/Culinary Herbs
If you have only interacted with dry culinary herbs, you might not know how individual fresh herbs look like. Also, if you are just starting to incorporate herbs in your recipes, it might be difficult choose your favorite from a rich assortment.
Culinary herbs come in many forms and flavors. Herbs belonging to the same family are almost similar in appearance while others are completely unique in the way they look, feel and smell. The common characteristic for all herbs is their aromatic properties. They are rich in fragrances that add distinctive flavors to foods. Unlike spices, herb are less savory in nature. They are mostly sweet, earthy, woody or fruity scented.
Herbs are an excellent choice for flavoring many types of meals. In some recipes, a specific herb works individually but in most cases, different sets of herbs are blended together to create a perfect flavor. Herbs and spices are like an old man and his walking stick. The right combinations compliment each other for delicious and appetizing meals.
Below are picture of herbs and a summary of their features. The list emphasizes on the ones that are commonly used in the kitchen.
I start with basil because it is my taste buds’ favorite. Basil belongs to the mint family and comes in many varieties. The most common variety for cooking is known as the sweet basil. It has a sweet pungent aroma that can be a game changer especially in recipes that are rich in tomatoes, meat and meat flavors. Sweet basil is highly popularized by Italian recipes and particularly, it is a primary ingredient in pesto.
Basil has glossy-green teardrop leaves that make a slight bend downwards towards the tip. Generally, the herb is very tender and water. Freshly picked cut ends can stay for several days at room temperature before they go bad. It is easy to grow basil in a kitchen garden with the right seeds or seedlings. It does well in warm conditions and can help keep some insects away.
People from the Asian region are commonly accustomed to Thai basil. Its flavor is slightly different from that of sweet basil. It has spicy undertones that are mostly likened to the tastes of cloves and anise. In my experience, fresh sweet basil blends well with thyme, parsley, sage, mint and garlic. The list is not limited to this and it also goes well with a variety of spices.
Just like basil, thyme is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the mint family. It is a highly adaptable evergreen shrub that produces an earthy aroma. There are multiple varieties of thyme but common and lemon thyme are the varieties that are mainly used for culinary purposes. They are used in fresh and dried forms.
The longevity of thyme’s flavor and aroma is something to write home about. These features make it an ideal ingredient for slow cooking. Another interesting thing that I have observed about thyme is the ease of preservation. Fresh thyme springs are easy to preserve and they can last for up to a week or more. As they dry up, it becomes easier to separate the leaves from the stems for storage in dried form.
Thyme is friendly to hundreds of recipes. This explains its wide usage in cuisines from all over the world. It blends well with basil, sage, parsley, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, and savory.
Bay is a floral smelling herb that is also known as sweet laurel or bay laurel. Bay leaves are commonly available in dried form although it is possible to find fresh ones. The dried leaves are very aromatic and are widely used to flavor cuisines such as biryani, Mediterranean stews and soups, Italian and American cuisines, and a variety of French foods and Greek cuisines.
Bay leaves can be added to dishes as whole and removed before serving or they can be used in ground form for more flavor and aroma. In my experience, it is easier to use whole leaves because they are easier to remove from cooked food.
Bay leaf blends well with mint, dill, thyme, savory, and marjoram among others herbs. It also compliments a wide range spices especially when preparing meat and rice dishes. Bay is an excellent choice for stocks and marinades. Bay leaves should be added early in the cooking process because their favor and aroma holds out for a long time.
Dill is a herbal plant that originates from the Mediterranean region. It belongs to the Apiaceae family which also comprises plants such as parsley and cilantro. Dill is characterized by wispy leaves and a warm aroma that is likened to that of anise. Both the plant and its seeds are used for cooking.
Dill is prominent for its use in pickles but numerous cultures from around the world have numerous ways in which they incorporate it in their food. For example, it is widely used in soups, green salads, potato dishes, casseroles, stews and pasta. Dill is sometimes used to substitute fennel seeds in recipes.