Herbs and Spices for Plates that Pack a Tasty Punch

The use of herbs in medicine and cooking goes back to biblical times. Yet, for some reason many cooks often seem unaware of their existence and don’t use them as much as they could.

Herbs are a cheap way of adding flavour

Adding some oregano, marjoram or other herbs can brighten even the humblest of dishes, packing in plenty of flavour to really tantalise your taste buds. Thankfully, you don’t have to have your own herb garden to have access to these culinary delights. Most corner shops and supermarkets have a wide selection of packaged herbs and spices. It's always a good idea to experiment when cooking, and just remember that it’s easier to add a product than to take it away.

Herbs and spices in international cuisine

Every country in the world is famous for its national flavours. When you think of Italy, the lovely tastes of basil and oregano come to mind. If you go further east, you’ll discover that no self-respecting Japanese cook would dream of preparing sushi without the addition of wasabi or shiso. The French have an enduring love affair with garlic, as well as rosemary, parsley and tarragon. Thankfully the Brits have rediscovered herbs; could anyone imagine eating roast lamb without the addition of rosemary?

Herbs are easy to grow

If you want to grow your own herbs, start off with a few that don’t mind a little rough treatment. Chives are excellent in this respect, and marjoram can take over your whole garden if you don’t cut it back. Tarragon is relatively easy to nurture and so is oregano. The only problem with an outside garden is that everything dies back in the winter. Make sure you harvest your herbs in the autumn, and then you can use the dried or frozen plants throughout the dark winter months.

Herbs have medicinal properties too

Herbs aren’t just used to flavour food; for instance, apeppermint tea for a stomachache can prove to be soothing. In fact, herbal teas in general seem to be making a comeback. Nowadays it’s not just the hippies and health fanatics who have rediscovered the benefits of this non-caffeine drink; you may well find your relatives drinking a soothing cup of chamomile tea before bed.Thanks to their medicinal properties, carrying out a spot of herbal ‘home doctoring’ has never been easier.

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