Introduction to Culinary Herbs

Herbs have been used in cooking to add flavour for thousands of years. Culinary herbs are incredibly versatile as you can use all parts of plants for cooking, the leaves, flowers, seeds, stems and roots. The roots, seeds and bark are often referred to as spices, having a more pungent flavour. The variety of herbs used around the world is staggering, from the Mediterranean herbs such as Tarragon, Sage and Rosemary to the Asian herbs such Lemongrass, Galangal, Coriander and Ginseng.
The addition of herbs can characterize the cuisine of a particular region, such as the Bouquet Garni – thyme, parsley and bay -of France, Harrisa – mint, chillies, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic - the spicy paste of North Africa and Garam Masala – cumin, cardoman, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, bay , black pepper and mace – of northern India.
Most herbs are now available worldwide and throughout the year, as growers meet the ever increasing demand for the unusual and exotic. However, it is possible to grow your own culinary herbs, whether it is in a purpose built herb garden, a  patio or even a hanging basket. Fresh Herbs are usually best, but dried herbs can be used when fresh are unavailable and often give a more concentrated flavour.
Culinary Herbs not only enhance the flavour of foods, but can also be beneficial . herbs such as fennel, and dill have a calming effect and can reduce flatulence. In hot countries the use of hot spices such as chillies, ginger and pepper help to raise the metabolic rate and so increase the rate of perspiration, thereby cooling the body.
The nutritional value of herbs is coming under renewed scrutiny. Research has identified that many herbs such as Rosemary,and Purslane

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