Most of our food wouldn’t taste the same without the savor of salt, a natural source of vital sodium. However, doctors warn that the American diet leans heavily on the saltshaker, leading to obesity, hypertension, and heart problems. These precautions don’t mean you’ll never enjoy tasty meals again.
If you want your food to take a walk on the flavorful side without a lot of extra salt, consider using fresh or dried herbs. Herb plants can make your dishes taste amazing. Unique blends of herbs and spices can boost the flavor of your meals and could be beneficial to your health.
Our Ancient Ancestors Relied on Herbs
Herbs are some of the earliest plants cultivated by humans. As our ancestors observed plants that the animals ate, they gathered these plants to see how they tasted. This prehistoric experimentation evolved into the knowledge of roots and herbs for medicinal purposes.
For millennia, cultures around the world depended on herbs for medicine, hygiene, and religious traditions. Much later in history, people found that many herbs lent flavor and delicious aromas to otherwise unpalatable foods. In ancient times, some herbs and spices were so valued that they were used as currency.
No medieval hut was complete without a small kitchen garden, which included several herbs for medicine and cooking. Some of the first herbalists were monks and nuns, who grew sizeable circular herb gardens on their convent grounds. They began the tradition of growing herbs in a circle pattern.
Most native cultures combined their spiritual traditions with the knowledge they collected from nature. These learned elders were called medicine people, shamans, and other titles according to culture and religion. Throughout Europe and the New World, rootworkers often dispensed their herbal wisdom secretly, fearing that they would be falsely accused of practicing witchcraft.
Today, global cuisines are renowned for their unique flavors and blends of herbs and spices. Many home cooks enjoy growing fresh herbs in their kitchen or their yard for easy access. Most herb plants are so easy to plant and care for that children can do it.
The rootworkers and herbalists of the past instinctively knew what modern science is recently discovering. Many of the herbs we use in the kitchen may have a plethora of health benefits. Countless studies demonstrate positive associations between these green wonders and good health.
The Difference Between Herbs and Spices
We often use these words interchangeably when we prepare food, but there are marked differences. Herbs are usually tender green plants that can be used fresh or dried for consumption. However, spices typically derive from berries, seeds, or bark of specific trees or woody plants and are prized for their scent and flavors.
Starting an Herb Garden at Home
Do you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs? As you wander down the produce aisle in the grocery store, you’ve probably noticed that fresh herbs are pricey. Once you’ve found how inexpensive and fun growing herbs at home is, you’ll probably never buy them at the store again.
All you need is a bright place in your kitchen, such as a windowsill or along a counter facing natural light. You can purchase seeds or herb plants that are ready to be placed into pots of your choice. Before you buy potting soil, this article may change your mind about traditional herbal planting.
How to Grow Your Favorite Herbs in Water
Maybe you’ve already experimented with growing culinary herb plants in your kitchen. What could be cozier and more inviting than a sunny kitchen windowsill lined with potted herbs? Most popular herb choices are a snap to grow in little containers filled with potting soil.
One of the recent buzzwords for avid gardeners is hydroponics. This unique soil-less system uses water to nourish and grow plants, such as leafy greens. Did you know that you can grow some herb plants in containers of water instead of potting soil?
Not every herb is an excellent choice for growing in water. Those that are produced from seeds must be rooted in potting soil. Before you start buying herbs to plant in water, do some research to see which ones can be done successfully.
Starting to Grow Herb Plants
If you have ever taken the starts of houseplants and rooted them in water, the same process is used for herbs. Use a pair of sterilized scissors to take clippings right about the leaf nodules. Strip lower leaves off and place each cutting in a glass container filled with warm filtered water.
Put your glass containers in a warm place where they will get a lot of indirect natural light. To avoid algae or mold attacks, change the water in each container often. Soon, your herb cuttings will have healthy roots, and you can keep them in their water glasses or plant them in soil.
Just snip off what you need, and the herbs will keep growing throughout the season. Herb water gardens are attractive and a definite conversational starter. Here are six common herbs that you might consider growing.
6 Kitchen Herb Plants to Grow in Water
1. Sweet Basil
Sweet basil is the darling of Mediterranean cuisines, especially Italian. It is native in these warm climates, where it usually grows as a perennial. The word basil derives from the Latin word, which means royal, which is an apt description of this lovely herb.
Its thick green leaves have a sweet, peppery taste that makes it ideal for pesto or other savory dishes. Basil has many cultivars, each with a unique scent and flavor. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory and can aid in digestive issues.
This fertile member of the onion family grows like a bouquet of grass. They have a mildly sweet onion flavor that is perfect for finishing fish, stews, or vegetables. Sour cream and chives are a perennial pairing that is tasty on baked potatoes.
This herb shares some of the health benefits of their more pungent cousins, onions, leeks, and garlic. They have natural antibacterial and antiviral properties and may boost your immune system. They can be chopped and consumed fresh or dried.
This herb family is a treasure trove of herbs valued for the cool, sweet flavor they add to savory foods and confections. Whether you prefer peppermint, spearmint, or other classics, you probably love them for their scent and taste.
This herb is often used in dental products as well as many medicines for its cooling properties in the mouth and digestive system. Studies have shown that peppermint can quench heartburn and help other digestion problems. It also makes a lovely herbal tea that may bring restful sleep or soothe breathing problems.
A whiff of this earthy, peppery herb takes your mind back to your family’s Thanksgiving feasts. It’s one of the quintessential herbs for mild meats like poultry and fish. The ancients associated it with wisdom from the gods and used it in cooking, medicine, and spiritual rituals.
This venerable herb isn’t just for turkey anymore. Health experts believe that because sage is rich in vitamins and minerals, it can fight free radicals in the body that damage cells. It may also boost immunity and fight certain cancers.
This zesty herb may be the star ingredient in many Italian sauces and dishes, but it was first cultivated in Greece. Associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, the Greeks believed that it was a powerful love potion. This herb has traveled from the Mediterranean throughout the world as a delightful spice for sauces, meats, and greens.
Many healthcare professionals tout the power of oregano oil for its high antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It fights harmful bacteria and is a natural anti-fungal agent. Add fresh leaves of this herb to your salad to help your immune system.
6. Lemon Balm
A balm is a natural substance that soothes and heals an apt name for this fragrant member of the mint family. For years, people have grown this lemon-scented beauty to attract honeybees and for making a tasty tea. It is a perennial that thrives in gardens, pots, or water containers.
If you adore this herb, then you will also love some of its health benefits. Research has shown this herb can bring more restful sleep and may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you drink a cup of lemon balm tea each day, it may improve your brainpower.
Remember that just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s always right for you. Talk to your professional healthcare advisor about any herbs that you are considering for medicinal reasons. Some herbs shouldn’t be consumed if you have a disorder or are taking certain prescription medications.
You needn’t be a master gardener to grow herb plants in the water at home successfully. These are a few of the flavorful herbs you can consider for pool growing. With a few cuttings, glass jars, and some water, you can have an inside herbal garden that will reward you with fresh herbs and improved health.