Friday, May 28, 2010

Grow Herbs On Your Kitchen Windowsill






You can grow  an herb garden with herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme,etc. in little pots on your deck or windowsill. It's great when y ou need some fresh basil or parsley for a recipe. You won't have to head to the supermarket, just can just pick some fresh green herbs from your own herb garden.

Herbs are easy to grow in containers, indoors or outside, or they can be planted in the ground. You don't need any special skills, and you can be successful growing herbs like rosemary, parsley, dill,  thyme, basil, and mint.

To grow herbs in a container, purchase plant containers that have holes on the bottom, fill with potting soil, and then add a little herb plant. I like to begin with small plants that I buy at places like Whole Foods, local farm stands, or even some supermarkets. In upper picture is my container of  thriving parsley and thyme.

Another herb that I planted is Stevia that I got from one of the local farms in Hopewell, NJ. Yes, the very stevia that is a sugar substitute. I haven't really done much with it, but it is fun to grow. I have chewed a few leaves, and boy  they are sweet!



To save on buying containers, I planted sage, thyme, and a tomato plant in the same container.This  also saves space and makes watering faster. Herbs like to grow in small spaces and all three are thriving. See below

Tomato plant with thyme and sage in one container
Once you plant your herbs, you can enjoy the herbs all spring, summer, and fall. There is nothing like the taste of freshly clipped herbs added to a salad or roasted vegetables. There is no end to how you can use fresh herbs. In addition, fresh herbs provide vitamins and antioxidants that boost the immune system

One herb that I plant in the ground is mint because it is a perennial ( comes back every year). Every yeat in the beginning of March, I welcome my tiny mint buds that are popping their heads out in the still fridgid weather. With our Middle Eastern background we use a lot of mint, so we usually harvest the mint, dry it, and then use it in a lot of Mediterranean recipes.We use fresh mint all summer to make mint tea,( like in a Moroccan restaurant), mojitos', chutney, pesto, or add it to tabbouleh. We also love adding fresh mint to lemonade.

                   Mint comes up in the end of March, and if I keep cutting it, it will bloom into the fall .

Here are some recipes
 Lemonade with Fresh Mint is a refreshing beverage that everyone can enjoy.
Ingredients: 
10-12 fresh mint leaves
4-5 fresh lemons, halved and seeded
3 drops of orange blossom water ( middle eastern store) optional
1/2 cup organic honey
10 -12 cups of water
lots of ice
Preparation 
Fill large pitcher with water. Add agave nectar, juice of 4-5 fresh lemons, mint leaves, orange blossom and water. Mix well, let sit about 15 minutes add ice and serve. ( you don't eat the mint leaves, but leave them in the pitcher as long as there is still liquid and the flavor will continue to improve.)

*** Orange Blossom is an extract . You can get it in some specialty stores or Middle Eastern or Indian food markets.

How I use my fresh and prolific basil:
Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil and parsley makes a wonderful appetiser or side dish to a meal.


Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes, sliced thin and evenly
1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced evenly
12 large basil leaves,  washed and patted dry
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar  
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
On a flat serving dish arrange tomatoes,  mozzarella cheese, and basil alternatively in a circle to fill the plate
Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve a room temperature.





Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves ( packed)
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup  grated Parmesan cheese grated


Using a food processor, quickly process garlic until it is minced. Add fresh basil and pine nuts and pulse well.  With processor running slowly add olive oil until smooth. Put pesto into a bowl and mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. If mixture is dry, add a little more olive oil.  Stays fresh for about 3 days or can be frozen for 4-6 weeks.

Mix pesto with your favorite gluten free pasta.


Herbs can be used fresh, they can be frozen, or they can be dried.
So, if you grow more than you can use, put some away to use all fall ( and even winter). I dry some of my mint and store it in containers to use as flavoring in omelettes, Greek salad, and vegetable dishes.

How to freeze herbs.
Wash herbs well, shake off excess water and dry between two paper towels. Place in a ziplock baggy and freeze for 6-8 weeks. Take out as needed for recipes.

How to dry herbs

There are many ways to dry fresh herbs.  One way is to first wash the herbs well. Dry between two paper towels. Then tie a rubber band around the stems and hang upside down for about 5-7 days until they are completely dry and brittle. Remove leaves from stems and crumble the leaves into a container, or remove leaves from stems and put into a little food processor and process until tiny. Use in omlettes, salad dressing, and sauces.


Once you plant your herbs, they will grow quickly.
Most herbs like full sun, and don't forget to water daily;
Also, remember to cut the herbs frequently, otherwise they will flower and go to seed.
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This blog post has been shared on Pennywise Platter and Wildcrafting Wednesday

1 comment:

  1. I just thought I would share my windowsill garden too (:

    http://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/03/its-officially-spring-i-was-rudely.html

    loving your site btw!

    ReplyDelete

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