So you have some beautiful, sweet smelling herbs in your kitchen? Now what? It’s not hard to grow herbs, but figuring out what to do with those attractive plants when they're ready for harvest can be a challenge.
Here are five of my favorite ways to use the fresh herbs I grow at home.
Brew Your Own Tea
A hot cup of herbal tea is an easy-to-imagine use of fresh herbs. Mint, lemon balm, sage, and lavender make very soothing cups of tea.
My favorite is mint tea. The menthol in mint is what gives your throat that cold sensation as you breathe in. Mint has long been used for its beneficial properties in easing head and chest congestion.A steaming cup of mint tea not only soothes a sore throat but opens up your nasal passages as you inhale the minty steam. Mint can also be used to settle an upset stomach, diminish nausea, stop hiccups and sooth sunburned skin.
Relax in an Herbal Bath
Have you ever considered tying up a bunch of fresh herbs and running them under hot bath water? Soaking in a tub full of fragrant, steaming herbal water (or just soaking your tired feet) is a great relaxation technique!
Take on Cold & Flu Season
Lemon Balm is my favorite herb to have on hand during cold season. Lemon balm tea with a touch of lemon juice and honey makes our family’s favorite herbal remedy for sore throats and coughs. Lemon balm also makes a delicious ice tea when blended with mint!
Cook a Delicious Dish
For me, merely brushing up against a fragrant basil plant propels visions of fresh Italian pasta. The other day I was assembling a dish of manicotti and I snipped a bit of fresh sage from a pot on the front porch and then pinched off a big handful of basil from a planter mixed with nasturtiums and herbs. The smell in the kitchen of blended savory herbs simmering in tomato sauce made me feel like I was in a little family diner in Italy.
Here are my favorite ways to use herbs in the kitchen:
- Fresh cilantro on pizza or tacos
- Fresh rosemary sprigs chopped and then kneaded into bread dough is delicious!
- Minced sage leaves in morning scones makes a perfect combination
- Dried apricots and garlic chives make and ideal blend of flavors for summer potato salad!
Make Your Own Herbal Oil Infusions
Why pay top for a fancy flavored oil again when you can make one yourself? Making an herbal oil infusion is fairly easy. Herbal oil infusions can be used for a variety of purposes, including cooking (drizzle on meat, seafood or a good bread) for making your own lotions and lip balms, putting in a diffuser, or using as a massage oil, insect repellent or ointment.
My favorite: Lavendar Oil - Probably the most reached for little bottle of awesomeness in the medicine cabinet is lavender oil. This fragrant oil is safe to apply directly on skin and it quickly takes the sting out of insect bites and burns. I use the lavender I grow more as an addition to bouquets and sachets but it would be wise to consider adding a high quality lavender essential oil to your medicinal quick grabs at home. Lavender oil added to a heated rice pillow pairs the soothing combination of heat and smell that can make sleep arrive just that much easier after a rough day.
Decorate a Gift Package
As you are wrapping up brown paper boxes with garden twine for the plant lover in your family, why not clip a few fresh herb sprigs and tuck them under the string?
Make Beautiful DIY Cards
Clip off some favorite green leaves and tuck them in a big book. A few months later you will have beautiful pressed herbs to use as card decorations.