These unusual culinary plants treat your palate to sensations beyond the ordinary Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Add these titillating, aromatic herbs to recipes in place of the usual culinary herbs and discover a whole new way to cook.
Hardy to Zone 3, Garlic Chives are distinguished from Chives by their flat, instead of hollow, leaves and pronounced garlic flavor. The delicate blades may be harvested any time before the flowers open by cutting the spears all the way to the ground. This helps to eliminate brown grassy pieces caused by cutting the spears midway.
Garlic Chives may be used fresh in vinaigrettes, mustards, stir-frys, egg dishes, and barbecues. For a gourmet appetizer try rolling soft cheese in a bowl of chopped Garlic Chives. Or, add chopped Garlic Chives to potato salad or brown rice for an elegant yet easy side dish. While best if used fresh, Garlic Chives can be frozen for later use. Plants do need to be lifted out of the ground and divided about every three years. They can take full or partial sun.
The aroma of an after dinner mint and the flavor of strong peppermint make Chocolate Mint useful in many recipes. Hardy in zones 4-11, Chocolate Mint is a herbaceous perennial that returns like gangbusters each spring. Mints should always be grown in pots and every spring they need to divided and repotted with fresh soil and fertilizer. Chocolate Mint, like most Peppermints, has a better, less sharp flavor when dried. Harvest and dry anytime by cutting whole stems to the ground. In fall, the plant should be sheared back to the ground. Chocolate Mint can be used in any recipe calling for Mint. Try adding dried Chocolate Mint to Banana Bread for delicious take on an old favorite.
Chocolate Mint Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1 cup mashed banana
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/8 cup dried, crushed chocolate mint leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x5 loaf pan well.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color (3-4 minutes). Add eggs, banana, and vanilla and mix well. Sift flour, soda and salt and add to egg mixture. Blend well but not for too long. The flour should be beaten just enough to incorporate it with the wet mix. Stir in chocolate mint and, if desired, nuts.
Bake for about hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
Mint can have different strengths depending how the plant was grown and how old the leaves were when harvested.
Cretan Oregano is a full bodied oregano that is a must have for Italian cooking. The leaves and flower heads, which resemble little knots, may be used fresh or dried. Hardy in zones 7-11, Cretan Oregano may be grown as an annual and harvested for drying or may be brought in the house for winter. If it is necessary to over winter in the house, consider growing it outside in a container during the warm months and just growing it inside after frost. As with any potted herb, it will need a repot each spring with fresh soil and new fertilizer. It should be grown in full sun. If planted in the garden, make sure the ground drains well.
While the common name may not sound too tasty, this Rosemary has wonderful flavor and thin soft leaves that are perfect for using fresh. Hardy in zones 8-11, Pine Scented Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that can be grown in a large container in colder areas and brought into a bright room for winter. Water should be monitored carefully; too much water during the winter months is the number one reason Rosemary fails in the house. Use fresh or dried in any recipe calling for Rosemary. It goes especially well with chicken and potatoes.
Greek Sage is a pungent, wonderfully flavored herb. It is usually what is in the spice jar at the grocery that is listed as Sage. Young leaves can be used fresh or dried. Older leaves are best dried. It is best grown in well drained soil in a sunny spot. Greek Sage makes a nice container plant. Start by transferring our pot to a gallon. Check each spring to see if the plant is root bound. If so, transfer to a pot that contains about three gallons of soil.
Stronger dried than fresh, Lemon Thyme has such a big lemon flavor it may be used to replace lemon in any recipe. Hardy to Zone 5, Lemon Thyme stays evergreen but should be harvested before flowering. Cut long stems, wash and hang in small bundles to dry, at which time the leaves may be stripped and stored in an air tight container. Add to honey and baste chicken or pork chops. Use in Chocolate dishes for a delicious surprise taste treat.
Additional plants to consider
The plants listed here make excellent additions to this collection. Click through to read more about them or add them to your order.