Book for Growing and Cooking with Herbs
Answered by: Yvonne Tremblay
Question from: Janice Antista
Posted on: April 22, 2006

I grow a few of the basic herbs for cooking and love it. However, I really don’t know much about how to use them and would like to get a good book on cooking. When I pulled up Richter’s web site and read about your book, Thyme in the Kitchen - Cooking With Fresh Herbs. I thought that just might be what I’m looking for. Besides the recipes, does your book explain about growing of the herbs also or would Richter’s help me with that? Like I said I do grow some and some I’ve tried but have no luck with like cilantro, which I love to cook with. Hope you can help.

My book does cover the basics of growing herbs. In general herbs like well draining soil ("don’t like wet feet"), they do best in full sun (with a few exceptions, some like chives, mint, lemon balm, will survive in partial shade), don’t need rich soil, some, like Mediterranean herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary) prefer to be a bit on the dry side (let soil get bit dry before watering) while others like it damp. I include a chart of 15 culinary herbs giving growing preference and cooking suggestions. Growing section covers soil, mulching, pruning/harvesting, growing in pots. Cooking: handling, storing, freezing, drying, capturing the flavour in herb oils, vinegars, butters, honey, mustard, sugar, etc. Lots of tasty recipes too, including how to make pesto then what to make with it (Pesto Shrimp, Pesto Pasta, etc.). For more information on "Thyme in the Kitchen -- Cooking with Fresh Herbs", please visit: It is available from Richters.

Cilantro (fresh coriander) tends to go to seed quickly. Try successive plantings of seeds (a few weeks apart) to get a steady supply. When it goes to seed, let it dry, collect and grind the seeds (ground coriander). Seeds that fall will also sprout up. To prevent herbs from going to seed and slowing production their volatile, flavourful oils, pinch off the flower buds as they form. This is important for fresh basil too. Regular harvesting of a portion of the leaves stimulates leaf production as well. You can harvest up to a third of the leave of mature plants. Look where the new growth is coming from and take leaves from the edges. For instances, some herbs like chives and parsley grow from the middle out, therefore, take outside leaves. Basil grows new leaves it the junction of the stems therefore, take the larger leaves from the ends and leave the babies to grow. Rosemary will branch into several stems if you cut a stem.

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