The use of herbs in cooking and food preparation has a very long history. They used to be used to cancel the smell of not very fresh food or to improve the taste of not very tasty food. But today, when herbs are no longer as expensive as they used to be and when any average household can afford them, it is difficult to imagine cooking without them at all. Because, herbs with their variety of smells, tastes and colors will enrich every dish and make it special.
By herbs are meant those herbs whose leaves, flowers or trees are used in cooking. In that sense, spices are mostly dried parts of these plants. Thus, the difference between plants and spices comes down to their origin from the plant. While the leaves of a plant make up herbs (mostly), spices come from the seeds, roots, bark or even the bulbs of the plant. The herbs are used after drying, although there are many herbs that are used fresh. Before use, the spices are always dried and added to enhance the taste and aroma of the recipe.
Herbs should be used to emphasize the natural taste of food – not to mask it.
Herbs are added to finely chopped food. You can add vinegar or oil to these plants, which will give them a nice aroma. Herbs can be dried and chopped or frozen in an ice cube tray and stored for the winter.
If you like fresh spices in your food, you can have them on hand if you grow them yourself in the kitchen. There are a surprising number of herbs that can grow as a houseplant.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil has long been a plant known as a spice.
Basil originates from India, and first appeared in Europe during the 12th century. Basil is mentioned in records from ancient Egypt. The word itself comes from the Greek word basilicon, which has a royal meaning. Among the Romans, basil was associated with devotion and love, and in India it was a symbol of welcome.
Many peoples and religions, such as Hindus and Orthodox, attribute divine properties to basil – it is a common belief that basil in baptismal water protects a person who is baptized from a cold, regardless of the outside temperature. Today it is mostly used in France and Italy.
It is an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the lamprey family (Lamiaceae, Labiateae).
Basil has an aromatic, refreshing as well as a slightly spicy taste. It is best to use it fresh, since it loses its smell and taste when dried.The characteristic smell and aroma of the plant is given by the chemical eugenol.
The following vitamins can be found in basil: vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin B6; and of the minerals basil contains magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron.
The healing effects of basil have been recognized even in traditional medicine.
Mint is a cosmopolitan genus of herbaceous plants from the family Lamiaceae with about 30 species.
The generic name Mentha (minti) is the name of a beautiful nymph in which the underworld god Pluto is in love. Because of the jealousy that torments him and the fear of Persephone’s wife, this selfish god enchanted Menta so that everyone except him perceives him as a plant, which is located along the banks of rivers, lakes, near springs, always near those places that lead to the underworld.
Mint is characterized by a pleasant smell of menthol, and is one of the most important medicinal plants for the production of essential oil, medicines and teas.
The most healing mint is the tame, peppery, hot or cultivated mint Mentha piperita l.
Mint is a plant that is not harvested in nature. This does not mean that it is not there, there are many natural species of this plant, which are less appreciated from the point of view of healing: water mint, long-leaved mint or horse basil, wild mint, cat mint.
The most famous strain of mint “Mitcham” grows in England, which is not surprising considering that the climate there is humid, the soil is rich, high quality and abundantly soaked with rain, and these are exactly the conditions that suit mint.
Mint was never just a taste and a smell. It has long since crossed the line between something medicinal and something that smells good. It is used in various segments of the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, the food and confectionery industry, all the way to perfumes and consumer products.
Mint made a sensation because of the unique chemical element menthol, which gives a feeling of coldness. The human brain associates this feeling of coldness with freshness.
The most common types of mint that are grown for culinary and medicinal purposes are peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, pineapple, apple, orange and Swiss mint. However, there are hundreds of species of this wonderful plant. Many species of mint can be cross-pollinated and create new varieties, so many species have not even been identified.
The mint plant is a good source of various minerals, primarily potassium. Then, calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. Of the vitamins, it boasts the content of vitamins C, E, K, B6, A and beta carotene.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is an evergreen plant with an intense aroma and taste.
Rosemary is a member of the Lamiaceae family, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil and lavender.
Early civilizations in the areas near the coast, where rosemary grew, use it for various purposes, both ceremonial and domestic. During the mummification process, the ancient Egyptians inserted rosemary sprigs into the mummy’s cloth wrappers. Rosemary was among the 600 plants mentioned by the Greek physician Dioscorides from the 1st century in his encyclopedia of herbal medicine De Materia Medica, and in ancient Greece, rosemary sprigs were woven into the hair of scientists to improve memory and help them focus during research. Belief in the properties of this plant that improve memory lasted for the next centuries, and they were referred to by the English playwright William Shakespeare in his play Hamlet in 1601: “There is rosemary. It is to be remembered: prayer, love, memory. ”
Today, rosemary is highly valued in many countries in cooking, medicine, cosmetics and as an ornament.
Rosemary flowers and shoots in bloom also have medicinal properties, but the leaves are usually collected.
In Europe and America, it is used as a spice for meat and chicken, and is sometimes added to bread, cakes and biscuits.
Its leaves are in the shape of needles and have a pronounced taste of lemon and pine, which goes well with meat, vegetables and other spices.
This plant not only has a good uku in culinary dishes, but is also a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B-6.
Oregano ( Origanum vulgare)
Oregano or wild marjoram is a spicy and medicinal plant.
The name of the plant comes from the Greek language (Greek oros – hill, ganos – jewelry), through the Italian oregano – mountain jewelry. Oregano is a perennial herbaceous plant from the family Lamiaceae. It grows throughout the Mediterranean region, and different subtypes grow in Asia and America. It can be found mainly on sunny, rocky terrains of the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean belt. It is cultivated. Leaf and flower are used.
There are more than 40 types of oregano. In cooking, we most often use Origanum vulgare. However, the most medicinal type is considered to be Origanum minutiflorum oil, which contains up to 90% of the active medicinal ingredient carvacrol which has strong antibacterial properties.
Oregano originates from Northern Europe, although it has grown in other parts of the world. The ancient Greeks and Romans highly respected oregano, as evidenced by the custom of making wreaths of this plant and placing them on the heads of newlyweds. The first written evidence of the use of oregano was recorded among the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates used this plant as a remedy for stomach and respiratory problems. The essential oil of oregano in the then Greece was used to treat and alleviate the bites of snakes and spiders. In the Middle Ages it became popular in Europe, where it was used to treat infections.
Although for many it is an original association for pizza, with its pleasant and aromatic taste, this plant can be used as a spice for various other dishes, especially those that belong to the specialties of Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine.
Oregano tree, leaves and flowers contain large amounts of phenols and flavonoids. Other active ingredients are pimen, limonene, ocimen, carvacrol and caryophyllene.
Oregano is a good source of iron, manganese and dietary fiber, and is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
An obligatory ingredient in every cooked dish, parsley is a plant that has been used as a spice for centuries.
It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who believed that they would not get drunk if they nibbled on parsley with wine.
Some historians claim that the Romans gave parsley to gladiators before fighting because they believed it gave them strength, speeds up reflexes, and encourages resourcefulness.
In the 17th century cookbook found in France, parsley is mentioned as the main spice for almost all cooked dishes and salads, and its health and nutritional importance is emphasized. So, parsley is not only an aromatic, decorative, spicy plant that will improve the taste of food, but also a medicinal and nutritious plant that is also known in natural medicine.
Parsley is a biennial root aromatic plant that is grown on almost all continents. It belongs to the thyroid family and is grown in gardens, but it also grows as a wild plant. In the human diet, everything that parsley gives is used, leaf, fruit, stem and root.
There are hybrids that are adapted to give a dense, lush leaf mass but a poorly developed root. This kind of parsley is called lichen. It is used for the production of dry spices, but also fresh.
Parsley does not have a high caloric value, but it is extremely rich in minerals and vitamins, which makes it one of the high-quality and medicinal foods.
It is extremely rich in minerals and vitamins C and A, as well as extremely rare vitamin B12, which is important for the formation of red blood cells.
It is best to take parsley leaves fresh, because that is the only way to maintain all its properties. It should not be dried or canned.
The most famous species used are Berlin and French parsley.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill is a well-known spicy fragrant plant that is grown and propagated in gardens itself.
Spice is named after the old Norwegian word dilla, which means calm down.
Dill originates from South Russia, West Africa and the Mediterranean. For centuries, myrrh has been used, both in cooking and in folk medicine, as a medicine. Spice is even mentioned in the Bible and ancient Egyptian writings. Also, this plant was very popular with the Greeks and Romans, where it was considered a sign of wealth in Roman culture and was a favorite plant because of its medicinal properties. It is also known that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used spice as a mouthwash.
Dill is the only plant in its family that uses leaves and seeds as a spice. Spice has green leaves, the hair is small and resembles fern leaves, and they have a mild and sweet taste. Dried spice seeds are light brown in color and elliptical in shape. The seed has a similar taste as cumin, it is aromatic and sweet, but it also has a bitter taste.
Spice belongs to the thyme family, which also includes parsley, cumin and bay leaf.
Today, spice is used as an unavoidable spice in the cuisine of the Scandinavian peninsula, in Central Europe, North Africa and Russia.
Spice seeds have long been a source of calcium and minerals, such as manganese and iron. Dill contains two unique components: monoterpenes, which include carvone, limonene and anetoufuran, and flavonoids, which include kaempferol and visenin.
Whenever you have the opportunity, you choose fresh spice instead of dried, because fresh spice is much tastier. The leaves of the fresh plant should be light and green in color, which is a sign that they are of better quality.
The fruits are quite bitter and spicy, very aromatic, like cumin. The leaves have a weaker aroma, are less spicy, and taste more like anise.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is one of the oldest medicinal plants. It is quoted by all ancient medical writers.
The Latin name of the whole genus Salvia comes from the Latin word salvare, which means to save, save, heal, because the Romans highly valued it 2000 years ago and used it in various ways for healing.
It is known that of all the medicinal herbs, Charlemagne valued sage the most. This can be seen in his strict historical law, the Capitulars, in which the great ruler ordered all state estates (and these were mostly monasteries) to grow about a hundred different types of medicinal herbs, of which sage was in the first place.
The genus Sage (Salvia) is a cosmopolitan genus comprising about 1000 species, with three main centers of distribution: Central and South America (about 500 species), Central Asia and the Mediterranean (about 250 species) and East Asia (about 90 species).
Sage is a plant with a warm climate and loves warm and hot climates. She is originally from the Mediterranean, so growth in such areas suits her best. Although Mediterranean countries are the largest producers of sage, continental species are emerging that can be of equal quality. Demand for sage is growing, causing new plantations to grow.
The most used is the leaf that separates after drying from the stem. By the way, sage is a well-known antibacterial and antiviral agent with anti-inflammatory action, so it has long been thought to cure the whole organism.
Sage is a plant with a rich and long tradition, and its healing properties have been known for 4,000 years.
It contains flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, resins, essential oil, organic acids, vitamins B, P and PP, terpenes, phenolic compounds.
Apart from being extremely medicinal, it is also used for culinary purposes.
Fresh sage has an intense flavor that is often used to add flavor to sauces, so some of the simpler and tastier pasta sauces are made from sage fried in butter.
Coriander or Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander or cilantro leaves are very similar to parsleye leaves.
The name comes from the Greek word coriannon, which means bed bug. The leaves smell of bed bugs (it is a mix of scents that can resemble cherries, vanilla, cinnamon, rose or orange), and the fruits smell of anise. Coriander leaves and fruit are also used as a spice. The leaf and the fruit have different aromas, so joint use is not recommended. Coriander has many positive health effects.
It originates from Morocco, Central and South America. Some even call it Chinese parsley because it looks like it.
Coriander has been known for thousands of years, as far back as 5000 BC. Coriander was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The Romans used coriander to season bread and preserve meat as they traveled.
While seeds are mostly used in Europe, coriander leaves are mostly used in South America, Asia and South Portugal. You should get used to the taste of the leaves due to its specific sharp-bitter taste. The seeds are used, if possible, short-fried and ground shortly before use, otherwise they smell like sulfur.
Wild coriander is found in cereal fields, but only tame coriander is used as a spice and medicinal plant.
Coriander is an extremely popular plant that has a wide and free, diverse use in dishes of Indian, Thai, South American and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The plant, which is used as a spice, has a earthy taste, a light lemon taste and is good in combination with other spices, especially cumin.
The fruits of this plant contain from 1 to 3% of essential oil, whose main ingredient is linalool, which also contributes to the specific aroma of coriander.
Coriander also contains significant amounts of coumarin and flavonoids. Coriander is a good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Lavander (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is a very popular ornamental plant, and it is increasingly grown as a plantation.
The name lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means to bathe, and explains the basic purpose of dried flowers and lavender, an essential oil.
Lavender is a genus with 47 known species of flowering plants in the Nana family, Lamiaceae. This genus originates from the Old World and grows from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe through North and East Africa, the Mediterranean, Southwest Asia, China (Plectranthus mona lavender) to southeastern India.
Lavender flowers are thin, composed of several small purple flowers on long narrow stems. They have been valued since ancient times, especially because of their beauty, soothing scent and healing properties.
Due to its healing properties and aroma, lavender has been grown and used since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians greatly appreciated the scent of lavender. The mummies were wrapped in a cloth in which the remains of her oil were found, and in 1922, a jar containing lavender essential oil was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Legend has it that Cleopatra seduced Caesar with the help of lavender water.
The ancient Greeks used lavender to treat insomnia and digestive problems. To relax and smell after bathing, the Romans used fragrant lotions and lavender baths in their bathrooms. The ancient Jews sprayed dishes with lavender water or essential oil, due to its healing effect on the digestive organs. In Europe, at the time of major infections, there was a legend that if a person coats the whole body with lavender oil, he will not be infected with the plague.
For centuries, lavender has been used in love rituals and in rituals to attract money. It is believed that the floor in the home should be cleaned with lavender tea, so that peace and harmony can reign in it.
As an aromatic plant, lavender is used for the production of essential oils, baths, soaps, shampoos, body care products, perfumes. It is also a spice plant. Finely chopped fresh or dried lavender leaves are used as a spice in some dishes, or as a tea.
Lavender is a plant characterized by a sweet, floral flavor with a refreshing note of mint and citrus. As a spice can be used preparations of cakes, pies, ice cream or cream. Lavender is an aromatic plant with a strong aroma and taste, so you should be careful with its dosage.
Lavender contains about 3% of essential oil, whose basic ingredients are esters of alcohol such as linalool and most ninalyl acetate (from 30 to 60%). They give the characteristic pleasant aroma of the plant. Other ingredients of lavender are cineole, borneol, geraniol and other terpenes. In addition to essential oil, it contains up to 12% of sugars, tannins, organic acids, mineral salts, anthocyanins and others.
Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)
This is a perennial plant from the mint family, also known as thyme. What makes it healing and special are its essential oils.
Thyme is a spice with a wide range of applications, and it is also very useful for humans. With a total of 60 of its subtypes, including French thyme, lemon, orange and silver thyme, it is quite certain that this spice will bring pleasant scents into our lives.
It can often be found as a wild and wild plant throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
Legends say that thyme was named after the Mother of God who rested on it during her flight to Egypt. This plant has been used since ancient times due to its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties. The ancient Egyptians also used it as a means of embalming, in order to prolong the life of the mummies of the pharaohs.
In ancient Greece, thyme was very popular and widely used because of its aroma, so it was used instead of incense in temples. The word thymos – courage, strength. This spice was also known as a symbol of courage and bravery, and that belief persisted until the Middle Ages. The women gave the knights scarves as a sign of their courage, and on the scarves was the image of a bee and thyme attached.
It is noted in Charles’ Capitulary that the cultivation of thyme is ordered. Pliny the Second describes thyme as an important ingredient in teriyaki, i.e. a universal medicine according to the recipe of the Syrian king Antiochus III the Great, who lived about 200 BC. It grows in Serbia, Greece, North Africa, Malta, New Zealand.
The main substance to which the medicinal properties of thyme are attributed is thymol, which has strong antiseptic properties and therefore wide application. In its pure form, thymol is toxic, and today, apart from thyme, it is also obtained synthetically. However, in a cup of thyme tea or some surface treatment, cream or oil, thymol is found in smaller quantities and is more than useful.
The plant in its fresh and dried state can serve as a spice for various dishes. It is used in the food industry and in the production of beverages (liqueurs), and very often in cooking for the preparation of game dishes and poultry stewed in wine, for the preparation of marinades, sauces, jams, sausages, pâtés, fish, salads, sauces, soups, soups, cottage cheese, salad.
It is believed that this spice neutralizes very fatty foods. It is mostly used in Italian cuisine. Due to its strong aroma, it is consumed in small quantities. The above-ground part of the plant can be used throughout the year for the preparation of aromatic teas and beverages.
Thyme is a spice rich in various nutrients. It is a good source of iron and manganese, as well as calcium and dietary fiber. In addition, thyme contains various flavonoids, including apigenin, narigeny and thymonin. They increase the antioxidant power of thyme and in combination with manganese, whose thyme is a good original, it makes thyme rank high on the list of antioxidant foods.
Thyme is very rich in essential oils, thymol, flavonoid glycosides, mineral salts, tannins and others.
Always, when you have the opportunity, choose fresh thyme instead of dried, because it has a more pleasant and stronger smell.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Chives with their fine green feathers are the smallest type of edible onion. Chives are a perennial plant that reaches a height of up to 50 cm, and its homeland is considered to be Asia and Europe, as well as North America. In essence, chives are the only representative of the genus Allium that originates from both the old and the new world at the same time.
Chives are also known as the “younger brother of onions”. And it really is. This plant belongs to the lily family, just like onion and garlic, although it is eaten differently and has a more aromatic taste than the onion we are used to.
What distinguishes it from onions? In the first place the taste. Chives has a more aromatic and less spicy taste than onions and leeks, which is why it is often used as a spice plant. Compared to other bulbs, the root is not eaten in chives. Only fresh leaves are used.
Hollow stalks of chives are among the most popular herbs in Central and Northern Europe. Even the ancient Romans appreciated the spicy taste of this plant similar to onion and its mild warmth. Chives are believed to have arrived in Europe from Central Asia thousands of years ago. Today, like parsley, it is especially common in the forests and meadows of Germany and Austria. In addition to chives leaves, its flowers are also edible.
In the culinary tradition of France and Sweden, Vlach has taken deep roots. We find information about its use in a cookbook from 1806, where the author describes in detail its consumption with pancakes, soups, fish and sandwiches.
Chives are a pretty good source of some vitamins such as C and A. Delicate feathers contain traces of sulfur, and are also rich in iron and calcium. The plant contains potassium and significant doses of vitamin K and others. Its taste is complemented by the high content of many more vitamins, mineral salts and essential oils.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemongrass, also called cymbopogon, is a perennial tropical herbaceous plant from the cereal family. The genus Cimbopogon includes 55 species of herbs, two of which are called lemongrass. These are Cimbopogon citratus, which is famous in culinary use, and Cimbopogon flekuosus, which is used in the production of fragrances due to its long shelf life.
The ancestral home of lemongrass is India, but it is also grown in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, Brazil and Guatemala.
For years, it has been one of the most used spices in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Nowadays, it is widely cultivated in California and Florida. She is gradually entering European cuisine, so her fame will soon be worldwide. Lemongrass is an aromatic perennial herb with a very strong lemon aroma.
Lemongrass is a great spice because it gives a pleasant aroma of lemon to dishes but does not acidify them – a property typical of lemon. Lemongrass is extremely popular in Caribbean and Asian cuisine. It is most often used for seasoning sauces, soups, various drinks, hot tea, marinades. Its pleasant aroma is extremely suitable for fish, poultry and seafood. Finely chopped lemon grass can be consumed fresh.
Raw lemongrass is rich in water, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C and B6. It also contains citronellol and geraniol. The plant is valued primarily for its essential oil, which is found in the leaves. It is rich in citrol – between 80 and 85%.
Tarragon (Artemisiae dracunculus)
Tarragon or snake grass is a famous spice that has long been used in cooking around the world.
Because of its invaluable value, the French called it the “king of spices”, and their top chefs ranked it among the four most important culinary plants – along with parsley, daisies and chives.
For many, this spice is best known as mustard.
Tarragon has its origins in Siberia and southern Europe, and it is believed that the Mongol conquest of Europe contributed greatly to its spread.
It was the Mongols who used this plant as an indispensable spice in their dishes and as a breath freshener, and they made numerous medicinal preparations for the body and better sleep.
There is also wild tarragon, but it has a weaker taste and smell.
Fresh tarragon leaves and sprigs can be used as a spice for salads, appetizers and various sauces. Dry and fresh sprigs of tarragon are used in canneries for canning tomatoes, cucumbers, mustard, additives and tarragon vinegar. According to some opinions, tarragon is also good as a spice for soups and dishes of chicken and other birds, fish and mushrooms.
Tarragon leaves are rich in vitamins and essential oils. They also contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and ash. The exact amounts in tarragon are: 0, 80% of essential oil (60-75% of tarragon), flavonoids, glycosides, inulin, vitamins, etc. In folk medicine they are used as a diuretic. The essential oil is used as an ingredient in perfumes and as a liqueur additive.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is one of nature’s most beneficial gifts. It has long been recognized in folk medicine and is used as a medicine, since the benefits of nettle are innumerable, and at the same time they have been proven. Phytomedicine doctors often joke and say that if people knew how medicinal nettle is, they would never plant anything other than nettle. All parts of nettle are used – root, stem and leaves.
There are between 30 and 45 species of nettle, which mostly grow as perennials. The most famous species is the common nettle (Urtica stock), which is widespread in Europe, North Africa, Asia and North America. It is an interesting fact that nettle fiber was used to make clothes and this procedure was used in the Bronze Age.
During the First World War, nettle fibers were used as a substitute for cotton and were used to make military uniforms. Various European projects are working to cultivate nettle as a plant and to use its fiber for commercial purposes.
In addition to being known for its healing properties, this plant can be used to prepare delicious food that will satisfy our senses. There are various ways to store nettles, but one thing to keep in mind – the smaller the nettle, the more useful substances it will provide.
We are usually used to nettles being included in our diet during the spring. Many people prefer nettle soup, nettle jani or even salad. Because it can burn, nettles should be picked with gloves and soaked in hot water before consumption. Nettle can also be used to make flour, and tea from this herb is known all over the world for its healing properties.
Nettle is a source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, E and C, iron, calcium, phosphate and minerals. Nettle even contains more vitamin C than some cultivated and wild plants, such as – lettuce, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, green beans and others. In nettle, water occupies the largest percentage, followed by proteins and sugars, which are part of the essential amino acids.
Fresh nettle leaves are a good source of vitamins A, B, D, E and K, mineral salts – calcium, manganese, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium and copper, and then enzymes, chlorophyll and substances that give color. Nettle leaves are also rich in substances that have the power of coloring, panthenoic acid, sitosterol and histamine, while the roots of this plant are the most rich in starch.
When choosing nettles, focus only on the upper part of the plant because the leaves there are much smaller, fresher and softer, and therefore not as bitter as older and larger leaves can be.
Nettle often grows in inaccessible places, so if you have the opportunity, buy it in proven stores.
To make it available for preparation throughout the year, you can use several ways to process nettle – you can dry it, freeze it or even preserve it. Do not dry the nettle in the sun, as this will lose a lot of useful substances. Dry it in a place where there is shade, and put its leaves in a dry, dark and ventilated place. In this way, nettles can be stored for up to 2 years.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil is an annual plant, which is a close relative of the parsley. Chervil belongs to the same family as celery, carrots and parsley.
Chervil is associated with the resurrection of Jesus, because its aroma is very reminiscent of resin (myrrh), and the early buds of the crumb are reminiscent of rebirth. This plant is traditionally used in some parts of Europe for Easter – it is eaten as part of the ceremony for Holy Thursday. Chervil was known to the Greeks and Romans as a spice for soup.
The aroma of butterbur is reminiscent of the aroma of anise. The young leaves of the plant have the most pleasant aroma, while the dried ones lose most of the aroma. Due to its sweet aroma reminiscent of anise, currant is often used as a spice for soups and salads. When the dish is hot, the chervil is added just before serving. Very small amounts of spices are quite sufficient.
In some dishes of North American cuisine, chervil leaves are used as a spice for poultry, grilled, or for fish and egg dishes. In French cuisine, chervil is used in the spring – young green leaves are mixed with small cheese or soft cheese (for example, Camembert) and butter. Slices of black bread are spread with the obtained green butter.
Chervil leaves are often added to fish sauces, poultry dishes, potato soups, and lamb. Chervil gives a very pleasant aroma and taste to dishes with lettuce, peas and tomatoes. It is good as a spice for carrots, eggs and asparagus.
In Norway and France, chervil is often served as a side dish.
Fresh green leaves contain large amounts of essential oils, vitamin C, minerals, magnesium, glycosides and carotene.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is well known to us as an herbal tea for mass use. This perennial herbaceous plant with a dark green leaf, which has a characteristic lemon scent, shows a number of benefits for our health, for which it is good to be informed.
Lemon balm leaves were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their pleasant refreshing scent reminiscent of lemon peel.
Lemon balm comes from the mountainous regions of southern Europe. Since ancient times, lemon balm has been used by Greeks and Arabs for all kinds of diseases caused by disturbing the nervous system. Lemon balm flowers are small, white, yellowish or pink. It grows near bushes, in sparse forests, near gardens and fences on the entire Balkan Peninsula. Usually the whole above-ground part or only the leaves of the rootstock are used, depending on the purpose.
Lemon balm is used to prepare liqueurs. It is not good to mix lemon balm with strong spices such as mint, nutmeg, ginger. Dried lemon balm emphasizes the taste of fish quite well.
Lemon balm contains essential oil (0, 05-0, 33%), tannin, bitter and mucous substances, caffeic acid, enzymes, ursolic acid, oleic acid, etc.
The pleasant aroma of the blossoming lemon balm, which attracts insects, is due to terpenes – citronellal, citronellol, citral and geraniol. Lemongrass owes its calming effect to citral. In addition, the drug contains triterpene, ursolic and oleanolic acids, 5% tannins and sugar stachyose.
Arugula (Eruca sativa or Brassica eruca)
Arugula or eruca or rocket is an annual plant from the Cabbage family that is gaining more and more popularity as a vegetable salad in our country, and has been used in the Mediterranean for many years.
The plant is widespread in the Middle East, primarily in Turkey, Jordan and Morocco. It grows in Central and Eastern Europe, northern, central, southwestern, eastern and central Asia, northern Africa, Australia, where it was brought by immigrants. It is found as a weed in grain plantations, and sometimes grows along railway lines.
We can find seeds of two types – Rucola coltivata and Rucola selvatica. Most of the rocket from our markets comes from Israel, and a smaller amount from Greece.
Arugula was known in ancient Rome, where it was used as a spice. Even then, the seeds of the plant were considered an aphrodisiac. In those years, they mixed rocket with grated orchid bulbs and parsnips, pine nuts and pistachios.
Arugula is related to mustard.
Arugula leaves are used in cooking, and the younger and fresher the better. They have a slightly sharp taste reminiscent of the taste of vegetables from the same cabbage family – Brassicaceae, such as beets, cabbage or horseradish, and the characteristic taste of walnuts is also felt. Usually older arugula leaves are tougher and have a dominant characteristic sharpness.
As a rule, rocket is consumed fresh while salads are made from it or added as part of a salad. The classic recipe is rocket with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and thinly sliced parmesan. Small leaves are added whole to salads, and larger ones can be torn off, but not cut with a knife, because most of the vitamins in arugula are killed with the touch of a knife.
Arugula is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine and mostly in Italy. The leaves are usually in the preparation of some types of risotto and pasta sauces. Arugula goes well with typical Mediterranean foods such as capers or pine nuts.
Slightly spicy rocket leaves are extremely suitable for seafood and fish. Pesto is often made with arugula instead of traditional basil. It is used instead of basil to prepare pesto sauce. When canning vegetables, arugula seed butter is often added.
Arugula is rich in useful substances. It contains a significant amount of essential oils, carotene, vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals. Arugula is rich not only in essential oils, but also in organic acids, vitamins – A, C and K, and minerals – calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and sodium. Arugula is in the top 10 green leafy vegetables, which contain the most provitamin A, also known as the beauty vitamin.
These small and cute leaves are quite rich in antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin B1, which helps us fight stress. Pantothenic acid in arugula improves metabolism.
Of the minerals, the largest is potassium and iron. It is an interesting fact that, unlike most green leafy vegetables, arugula contains irreplaceable Omega-3 fatty acids, which are more often found in seeds and nuts.
Like most green leafy vegetables and arugula that we choose, it should be fresh and fragile, with brittle leaves that guarantee us the maximum of useful substances in it. You can store fresh arugula leaves in a bag in the refrigerator for a few days. Arugula with wide leaves is grown in the Balkans, which is cheaper than the more popular arugula with a narrow leaf.
Marjoram (Origanium hortensis)
Marjoram is a herbaceous plant, which has red and white flowers. Marjoram belongs to the mint family. Marjoram is characterized by a specific strong aroma and precisely because of this aroma, marjoram cannot be mixed with other spices. Marjoram is considered a cousin of oregano.
The country of origin of this spice is considered to be the countries of North Africa, where marjoram is still a perennial, while in other places it grows as an annual plant. The specific taste and aroma of marjoram have been known since ancient times, and even today the popularity of this spice in cooking does not decline. Today, marjoram is mainly grown in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Marjoram is already known for thousands of hours. Together with the bay leaf, marjoram was considered a sacred plant in the Mediterranean area, mostly in Greece and Rome. This plant was highly respected in North Africa – in the countries of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In the Middle Ages, marjoram was used to treat epilepsy. Even in the Greco-Roman era, this plant had a wide application and was very popular. According to an interesting legend, the Greeks believed that if he grows up on someone’s grave, the deceased has eternal peace and happiness in the other world.
The upper parts of the marjoram plant are used as a spice. They have a specific pleasant aroma and a pungent taste. Marjoram is usually used dried. It is used as a spice for lamb and chicken. Also add different types of sausages.
Wide application in cooking puts marjoram in good spices for tomato dishes, as well as for various breads and salad dressings. marjoram is used as a spice mostly in Italian, French, North African and American cuisine. Dried marjoram together with thyme is a great combination for the production of sausages, and the Germans are one of the biggest fans of the taste of marjoram.
Marjoram is also one of the classic spices for fried liver. In addition to combining well with thyme, marjoram goes well with bay leaf, pepper and juniper. The specific aroma of marjoram is a great addition to vegetables with cellulose, such as cabbage. It goes well with fish dishes, as well as with almost all types of pasta.
Marjoram can be combined with other spices. In combination with chubar and primrose, it is excellent for the preparation of cooked dishes, for grilled meat, and it can also be combined with garlic and rosemary. It is reminiscent of oregano, but the aroma and taste of marjoram are much more delicate and more sweet than oregano.
Marjoram leaves contain 0.7-1% of essential oil, phenol, and are also rich in vitamin C, provitamin A, pectin and other useful substances. Marjoram is a spice that contains essential and bitter substances, alkaloids, tannins and phenols.
Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale)
Watercress is also known as water mustard. Its name comes from the characteristic that it grows near springs, mountain streams and rivers up to 1500 m above sea level. Watercress is a plant, while some specialists define it as a herbaceous vegetable, so in Southern Europe and the Middle East it is used as an ingredient for various salads.
Garden watercress (Lepidium sativum) originates from the north-eastern part of Africa and the south-western part of Asia. It belongs to the cabbage family and belongs to the annual plants. It cannot be grown in the garden with other spices, because it thrives best in shallow waters, especially at springs.
Persia is considered the country of origin of watercress, this plant is considered one of the first plants that people began to grow – Greek and Persian soldiers used it as a stimulant and as a means of better tone and endurance. The bonfire came to Europe a long time ago, it was grown in Greece and Rome. In Egypt, this plant was highly valued, and it was also a gift to the pharaohs in the pyramids.
The Romans called bonfire “wrinkled nose”, because of the spicy smell that this plant has. There are also rumors that Hippocrates founded the first hospital near the stream, next to which a bonfire grew, in order to use its stabilizers to treat patients. Cress cultivation began in the 16th century, and this plant grows wild throughout Europe. The leaves of cress are smooth, oval and have a bright green color.
The long history of watercress salad is very interesting. It is important to know that watercress salad does not have a long shelf life, so it is advisable to prepare it as soon as you buy it. In the English court, it was once called the “bread of the poor” because of the tradition that the working class eats a sandwich with watercress salad in the morning or just watercress salad, if there was no bread.
Today, bonfire salad is a favorite guest of various soups and salads in combination with olive oil or sieve. Cress salad can be used cooked with green leafy vegetables and with potatoes in a cream soup. The taste and aroma of this plant are suitable for salads with avocado and fish sauces, and it can also serve as a garnish for roasted meat and venison. They are often useful as a side dish for main dishes. Some authors call watercress salad – a natural superfood.
Even today, bonfire salad is used for sandwiches. It is consumed as a side dish for red meat, fish or poultry, added to salads or purees. Cress salad leaves are juicy with a spicy taste, which often resembles the taste of horseradish.
Watercress sprouts are delicious and useful and can be grown in pots at any time of the year. Cut the leaves of cress salad like chives and feel free to add them to small cheese or slices of bread with butter.
Watercress is an excellent source of easily digestible iodine, and in addition to iodine, it also contains vitamins: A, B1, B2, E, PP. As for minerals, it contains sulfur, chromium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and calcium. Cress leaves are rich in vitamins: C, P, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, as well as carotene, rutin and other minerals. This plant is rich in chemicals, including glucosinolates, lutein, flavonoids, and hydrocarbon acids.
Corn salad (Valerianella locusta)
Corn salad is a plant of meadow flora and is used as a fresh salad in winter and early spring.
It is a low annual plant that is usually grown as lettuce and is distributed throughout the northern hemisphere.
Homeland is the whole of Europe, parts of western and southwestern Asia, North Africa, and the American South.
Almost in the whole of Europe, all the way to 60 ° north latitude, in vineyards and orchards, in fields and along hedges, once, until we used herbicides so intensively in agriculture, wild matovilac, lat. Valerianella locusta, an annual herbaceous plant that forms a small rosette on a short stalk of oblong green leaves.
Corn salad is most often served with fish and white meat dishes and as a very interesting addition to a colorful palette of salads and sandwiches.
It is a very good source of vitamin C and iron, and can contain up to 10 times more vitamins than other salads.
It is a rich source of folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamins A, C and B, Omega-3 fatty acids.
Corn salad is an excellent source of vitamin B6.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion is a perennial herbaceous plant with milky sap. It can be found in meadows and grassy areas, by streams throughout the Balkans. Dandelion has been known as a medicinal plant since ancient times, and it has another name – sun balm. And this is no accident, because dandelion helps with a number of diseases.
In some countries, dandelion is grown as a culinary plant. Its leaves are used for a delicious spring salad, which is very useful for spring fatigue and avitaminosis. In addition to being used for salads, dandelion is also used to make teas and some types of sweets.
To make a dandelion salad, soak its leaves in lukewarm water and let it stand for 30 minutes. Another option is to cook them until they change color. This removes bitter substances. After that, cut the leaves and season them with olive oil and lemon as desired. Add chopped spring onions, dill, parsley and a few olives.
Dandelion has been shown to be a great spice for soups. soak the dandelion leaves in salted water, drain and chop finely. Add the spice, lemon juice and primrose. Season the soup or broth with the resulting mixture
The aboveground part of dandelion contains flavoxanthin, tin, arnidol, fapandiol, lactocerol, choline, asparagine, vitamins B1, C and D, as well as provitamin A. Dandelion milk juice contains the bitter substance taraxacin.
Dandelion root contains tritepene substances such as taraxasterol, taraxerol and pseudotaraxerol, as well as taraxacin, inulin and rubber. They contain fats composed of glycerides of palmitic, linoleic, cerotinolinic, oleic and other acids, inositol, mannitol and cholein.