Herbs have many uses, are available now
By Danelle Cutting
For the Salisbury Post
Herbs are one of my favorite items at local farmers markets. Many of my dishes have herbs in them because they give such great flavor and can instantly change a boring dish into something spectacular.
Herbs have been used for many generations to flavor food and for medicinal purposes. Most of the plants I like to grow usually have a dual purpose (to eat and for medicine); they are also usually beneficial to my fruits and vegetables by encouraging beneficial insects. For most people, acquiring or understanding what to do with herbs can be troublesome, but I am writing to let you know that it is not so difficult anymore. Herbs are grown in addition to the vegetables that farmers grow, and many farmers participate in the local farmers’ markets. They can be seasonal, but they also have a season.
Many times, you can use the entire plant from the roots to the seeds. Cilantro leaves are great in salsas, dips, and on meat. But many do not realize that the seeds are ground to make Coriander.
Many people are familiar with Basil but are just used to Italian Basil; there are many more types with different and unique flavors, such as Spicy Globe Basil or Thai Basil. There are also numerous types of mint, such as Orange, Chocolate and Apple. They spread very easily, so I usually keep them in pots. They can also spruce up your water by adding a few crushed leaves. Rosemary, if treated properly, can get very large. I enjoy using the stems as skewers for kabobs and the leaves for roasted potatoes. If you are really adventurous, try some of the herbs featured at the market or grow some; most herbs are easy to grow. People grow them in containers, windows and even on the back porch. If you prefer to grow your own, most herbs prefer a pH of a 6-6.5 and usually require full sun.
Most herbs are great in savory soups and broths, infused waters, and to spice up meats. I usually have plenty dried, but I usually prefer my herbs fresh. If you like flavored teas, add some of your favorite crushed herbs (any mint, lemon thyme, basil, etc.) to a container with the amount of sugar you use for tea. Allow a few days to get flavoring, and make your tea as you usually would.
To get some local herbs, visit:
• Salisbury Farmers Market: Wednesdays 8 a.m.–noon and 4 p.m.–7 p.m. or Saturday 8 a.m.–noon, 115 S. Jackson St., Salisbury.
• China Grove Farmers Market: Fridays 4 p.m.-7 p.m. 308 N. Main St., China Grove.
• Cleveland Farmers Market: Wednesdays (beginning May 13) 3:30 p.m.–6 p.m., 100 Block of S. Depot St., Cleveland.
If you would like more information on growing herbs, call the Cooperative Extension office at 704-216-8970.