Grantee Blog 2020

The Power of Fresh Herbs

Who doesn’t like to use fresh herbs in their favorite dishes?  I certainly do!  Using fresh herbs in cooking seems to add the finishing touch to a dish.  There’s nothing like walking out your door and picking some fresh basil to add to your homemade tomato sauce or adding fresh cilantro to your tacos on “Taco Tuesday”.

Growing fresh herbs at home may seem hard but it is actually easier than you think.

It can save you money, as keeping your cabinets stocked with different herbs and spices can be very expensive.  Growing herbs yourself will help cut down the cost of essential ingredients.

When you grow your own herbs, you cut them right when you need them.  That way you don’t have to worry about the basil and parsley getting dried out and brittle and having to throw them out, wasting money.  Plus, visiting your garden or the pot on your window sill is way more convenient than running out to the store or farmer’s market.

Using fresh herbs also adds variety to your dishes.  That herb garden will offer you the opportunity to try out some different flavor combinations and let you try out some new recipes.  The supermarkets always offer free recipe cards that normally have fresh herbs in the ingredients.  Like red pepper sauce on fish or summer sandwiches.  The cooking shows always, and I mean always, use fresh herbs in every dish they make.

You can taste the difference as well! Dried herbs such as oregano or rosemary, work fine in cooking.  But in my opinion, fresh is almost always the tastier option.

Most herbs enjoy plenty of sunshine, a nice amount of water, and soil that drains the water well.   I would say Spring and Summer are the best seasons to grow your fresh herbs in NJ.  Make sure you use potting soil, which comes ready-made with ideal conditions for planting in pots. Of course you can use your garden, but a pot can be used as well.

Storing your herbs will differ depending on the type of fresh herb.  Fresh basil deteriorates very quickly, so you will want to freeze them in a zip-lock bag or for short term storage, wrap them in a damp towel and put in the refrigerator.  Fresh thyme also should be stored in a damp towel and refrigerated.  Don’t wash the sprigs until you are ready to use them.

Fresh herbs are so versatile! You can use them in compound butter, salads, flavor your roast chicken, soups, salad dressing and dips, add them to eggs, roasted veggies, chicken and tuna salad, marinades, meatloaf, burgers just about any recipe.   Fresh herbs are easy to take care of, they wake up the flavor in your dishes and they save you money.  What more can you ask for?  Let’s get a green thumb, and let’s start growing our fresh herbs today!

About the Grantee

County of Bergen, Division of Senior Services

As the lead agency for the Bergen County’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC), the Division helps older adults, individuals with disabilities over the age of 18, and caregivers access the complex, long-term care, community-based, health and human services.