A.  Figuring out how to use fresh herbs is as easy as a trip to your pantry or spice rack.  I'll bet you're already using oregano, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, dill, chives, bay leaf or a combination/blend of the above in dry form.  Try them fresh.  Generally, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon dried, crumbled herb, use 2-3 tsps fresh chopped herb.  Plants in my garden which I consider indispensable in cooking include the following: Basil - Over 200 varieties with sweet basil being the most common; wonderful with fresh tomatoes and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese; a must for tomato sauce; the main ingredient for the wonderfully green and garlicky sauce - pesto (heaven on earth!).  Chives - mild flavored member of the onion family' sprinkle chopped leaves over salad or vegetables; mix with sour cream or butter for potatoes, toss into soups.  Dill an outstanding addition to cucumbers, potato salads, seafood (especially salmon) eggs and cream cheese.  Oregano instills a spicy flavor to Italian dishes such as spaghetti, pizza and lasagna.  Rosemary the perfect seasoning for chicken, veal and lamb; wonderful with roasted new potatoes with coarse salt seasoning.  Salad Burnet a wonderfully delicate cucumber flavor in a very attractive hearty plant.  Toss into salads; a real find for those who love the taste of cucumber, but find it somewhat difficult to digest.  Thyme - a nearly universal seasoning, great with red meat, fish and poultry.  Try with vegetables including eggplant, carrots, tomatoes; those who enjoy added zing to their beverages would enjoy it in tomato juice.  Mint - many varieties to add depth to teas, punches and sauces.  Lemon Balm - mild lemon flavor perfect for cool drinks, fruit salads and custards.  Pineapple sage - imparts a wonderfully fragrant pineapple scent and flavor to drinks, fruit salads and cream cheese sandwiches.

Culinary uses don't stop at inclusion in your favorite recipes.  They also provide for an endless supply of combinations for herb butters, herbal vinegars, teas and jellies.

There are numerous books on the market chocked full of information on the cultivation and use of herbs.  Some that I have found most helpful include: Texas Gardeners Guide to Growing and Using Herbs by Diane Morey Sitton; The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Talley and Chris Mead; The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson; Southern Herb Growing by Madeline Hill and Gwen Barclay with Jean Hardy.  Good luck and bon appetit!

This web site is maintained by Master Gardener Laura Bellmore, under the direction of William M. Johnson, Ph.D., County Extension Agent-Horticulture & Master Gardener Program Coordinator.

All digital photographs are the property of  the Galveston County Master Gardener Association, Inc. (GCMGA) 2002-2006 GCMGA - All Rights Reserved.