VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of www.herbgardens.ca Informational Site Network Informational
Privacy
Home - List of Herbs and Articles - Rock Garden

Most Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
House Leek (crassulaceoe)
Anemone (wood)


Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
House Leek (crassulaceoe)
Anemone (wood)



No Other Should Be Allowed To Flower








This process is to be continued from year to year. If the selection is
carefully made, the grower will soon rejoice, because he will observe a
larger and a larger number of plants approaching the type of plant he
has been selecting for. In time practically the whole plantation will be
coming "true to type," and he will have developed a new variety. If his
ideal is such as to appeal to the practical man--the man who grows
parsley for money--and if the variety is superior to varieties already
grown, the originator will have no difficulty in disposing of his stock
of seed and plants, if he so desires, to a seedsman, who will gladly pay
a round price in order to have exclusive control of the "new creation."
Or he may contract with a seedsman to grow seed of the new variety for
sale to the trade.

It may be said, further, that new varieties may be produced by placing
the pollen from the flowers of one plant upon the pistils in the
flowers of another and then covering the plant with fine gauze to keep
insects out. With the herbs, however, this method seems hardly worth
while, because the flowers are as a rule very small and the work
necessarily finicky, and because there are already so few varieties of
most species that the operation may be left to the activities of
insects. It is for this reason, however, that none but the choicest
plants should be allowed to bloom, so none but desirable pollen may
reach and fertilize the flowers of the plants to be used as seed
producers.


TTITLE STATUS AND USES

Some readers of a statistical turn of mind may be disappointed to learn
that figures as to the value of the annual crops of individual herbs,
the acreage devoted to each, the average cost, yield and profit an acre,
etc., are not obtainable and that the only way of determining the
approximate standing of the various species is the apparent demand for
each in the large markets and stores.

Unquestionably the greatest call is for parsley, which is used in
restaurants and hotels more extensively as a garnish than any other
herb. In this capacity it ranks about equal with watercress and lettuce,
which both find their chief uses as salads. As a flavoring agent it is
probably less used than sage, but more than any of the other herbs. It
is chiefly employed in dressings with mild meats such as chicken,
turkey, venison, veal, with baked fish; and for soups, stews, and
sauces, especially those used with boiled meats, fish and fricassees of
the meats mentioned. Thus it has a wider application than any other of
the culinary herbs.

Sage, which is a strongly flavored plant, is used chiefly with such fat
meats as pork, goose, duck, and various kinds of game. Large quantities
are mixed with sausage meat and, in some countries, with certain kinds
of cheese. Throughout the United States it is probably the most
frequently called into requisition of all herbs, probably outranking any
two of the others, with the exception of parsley.

Thyme and savory stand about equal, and are chiefly used like parsley,
though both, especially the former, are used in certain kinds of
sausage. Marjoram, which is similarly employed, comes next, then follow
balm, fennel, and basil. These milder herbs are often mixed for much the
same reason that certain simple perfumes are blended--to produce a new
odor--combinations of herbs resulting in a new compound flavor. Such
compounds are utilized in the same way that the elementary herbs are.

In classes by themselves are tarragon and spearmint, the former of which
is chiefly used as a decoction in the flavoring of fish sauces, and the
latter as the universal dressing with spring lamb. Mint has also a more
convivial use, but this seems more the province of the W. C. T. U. than
of this book to discuss.

Dill is probably the most important of the herbs whose seeds, rather
than their leaves, are used in flavoring food other than confectionery.
It plays its chief role in the pickle barrel. Immense quantities of
cucumber pickles flavored principally with dill are used in the
restaurants of the larger cities and also by families, the foreign-born
citizens and their descendants being the chief consumers. The demand for
these pickles is met by the leading pickle manufacturers who prepare
special brands, generally according to German recipes, and sell them to
the delicatessen and the grocery stores. If they were to rely upon me
for business, they would soon go bankrupt. To my palate the dill pickle
appeals as almost the acme of disagreeableness.


TTITLE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF USES

The flavors of the various herbs cover a wide range, commencing with
fennel and ending with sage, and are capable of wide application. In one
case which came under my observation, the cook made a celery-flavored
stew of some meat scraps. Not being wholly consumed, the surviving
debris appeared a day or two later, in company with other odds and
ends, as the chief actor in a meat pie flavored with parsley. Alas, a
left-over again! "Never mind," mused the cook; and no one who partook of
the succeeding stew discovered the lurking parsley and its overpowered
progenitor, the celery, under the effectual disguise of summer savory.
By an unforeseen circumstance the fragments remaining from this last
stew did not continue the cycle and disappear in another pie. Had this
been their fate, however, their presence could have been completely
obscured by sage. This problem in perpetual progression or culinary
homeopathy can be practiced in any kitchen. But hush, tell it not in the
dining-room!



TTITLE METHODS OF CURING

Culinary herbs may be divided into three groups; those whose foliage
furnishes the flavor, those whose seed is used and those few whose
roots are prepared. In the kitchen, foliage herbs are employed either
green or as decoctions or dried, each way with its special advocates,
advantages and applications.

Green herbs, if freshly and properly gathered, are richest in flavoring
substances and when added to sauces, fricassees, stews, etc., reveal
their freshness by their particles as well as by their decidedly finer
flavor. In salads they almost entirely supplant both the dried and the
decocted herbs, since their fresh colors are pleasing to the eye and
their crispness to the palate; whereas the specks of the dried herbs
would be objectionable, and both these and the decoctions impart a
somewhat inferior flavor to such dishes. Since herbs cannot, however,
always be obtained throughout the year, unless they are grown in window
boxes, they are infused or dried. Both infusing and drying are similar
processes in themselves, but for best results they are dependent upon
the observance of a few simple rules.

No matter in what condition or for what purpose they are to be used the
flavors of foliage herbs are invariably best in well-developed leaves
and shoots still in full vigor of growth. With respect to the plant as a
whole, these flavors are most abundant and pleasant just before the
flowers appear. And since they are generally due to essential oils,
which are quickly dissipated by heat, they are more abundant in the
morning than after the sun has reached the zenith. As a general rule,
therefore, best results with foliage herbs, especially those to be used
for drying and infusing, may be secured when the plants seem ready to
flower, the harvest being made as soon as the dew has dried and before
the day has become very warm. The leaves of parsley, however, may be
gathered as soon as they attain that deep green characteristic of the
mature leaf; and since the leaves are produced continuously for many
weeks, the mature ones may be removed every week or so, a process which
encourages the further production of foliage and postpones the
appearance of the flowering stem.

To make good infusions the freshly gathered, clean foliage should be
liberally packed in stoppered jars, covered with the choicest vinegar,
and the jars kept closed. In a week or two the fluid will be ready for
use, but in using it, trials must be made to ascertain its strength and
the quantity necessary to use. Usually only the clear liquid is
employed; sometimes, however, as with mint, the leaves are very finely
minced before being bottled and both liquid and particles employed.

Tarragon, mint and the seed herbs, such as dill, are perhaps more often
used in ordinary cookery as infusions than otherwise. An objection to
decoctions is that the flavor of vinegar is not always desired in a
culinary preparation, and neither is that of alcohol or wine, which are
sometimes used in the same way as vinegar.


TTITLE DRYING AND STORING

When only a small quantity of an herb is to be dried, the old plan of
hanging loose bunches from the ceiling of a warm, dry attic or a kitchen
will answer. Better, perhaps, is the use of trays covered with clean,
stout manilla paper upon which thin layers of the leaves are spread.
These are placed either in hot sunlight or in the warm kitchen where
warm air circulates freely. They must be turned once a day until all the
moisture has been evaporated from the leaves and the softer, more
delicate parts have become crisp. Then they may be crunched and crumbled
between the hands, the stalks and the hard parts rejected and the powder
placed in air-tight glass or earthenware jars or metal cans, and stored
in a cool place. If there be the slightest trace of moisture in the
powder, it should be still further dried to insure against mold. Prior
to any drying process the cut leaves and stems should be thoroughly
washed, to get rid of any trace of dirt. Before being dried as noted
above, the water should all be allowed to evaporate. Evaporation may be
hastened by exposing the herbs to a breeze in a shallow, loose basket, a
wire tray or upon a table. While damp there is little danger of their
being blown away. As they dry, however, the current of air should be
more gentle.

The practice of storing powdered herbs in paper or pasteboard packages
is bad, since the delicate oils readily diffuse through the paper and
sooner or later the material becomes as valueless for flavoring
purposes as ordinary hay or straw. This loss of flavor is particularly
noticeable with sage, which is one of the easiest herbs to spoil by bad
management. Even when kept in air-tight glass or tin receptacles, as
recommended, it generally becomes useless before the end of two years.

When large quantities of herbs are to be cured a fruit evaporator may be
employed, the herbs being spread thinly upon wire-bottomed trays so that
an ample current of air may pass through them. Care must be taken to
keep the temperature inside the machine below 120 degrees. The greatest
efficiency can be secured by placing the trays of most recently gathered
herbs at the top, the partially dried ones being lowered to positions
nearer the source of heat. In this way the fresh, dry, warm air comes in
contact first with the herbs most nearly dried, removes the last
vestige of moisture from them and after passing through the intervening
trays comes to those most recently gathered.

Unless the evaporator be fitted with some mechanism which will permit
all the trays to be lowered simultaneously, the work of changing the
trays may seem too irksome to be warranted. But where no changes of
trays are made, greater care must be given to the bottom trays because
they will dry out faster than those at the top. Indeed in such cases,
after the apparatus is full, it becomes almost essential to move the
trays lower, because if fresh green herbs, particularly those which are
somewhat wet, be placed at the bottom of the series, the air will become
so charged with moisture from them that the upper layers may for a time
actually absorb this moisture and thus take longer to dry. Besides this,
they will surely lose some of their flavoring ingredients--the very
things which it is desired to save.

No effort should be made to hasten the drying process by increasing the
temperature, since this is likely to result as just mentioned. A
personal experience may teach the reader a lesson. I once had a large
amount of parsley to cure and thought to expedite matters by using the
oven of a gas stove. Suffice it to tell that the whole quantity was
ruined, not a pinch was saved. In spite of the closest regulation the
heat grew too great and the flavor was literally cooked out of the
leaves. The delicate oil saturated everything in the house, and for a
week or more the whole place smelled as if chicken fricassee was being
made upon a wholesale plan.

Except as garnishes, herbs are probably more frequently used in a dry
state than in all other ways put together. Perhaps this is because the
method of preparing them seems simpler than that of infusion, because
large quantities may be kept in small spaces, and because they can be
used for every purpose that the fresh plants or the decoctions can be
employed. In general, however, they are called into requisition
principally in dressings, soups, stews and sauces in which their
particles are not considered objectionable. If clear sauces or soups are
desired, the dried herbs may still be used to impart the flavor, their
particles being removed by straining.

The method of preparing dill, anise, caraway and other herbs whose seed
is used, differs from that employed with the foliage herbs mainly in the
ripeness of the plants. These must be gathered as soon as they show
signs of maturity but before the seeds are ready to drop from them. In
all this work especial care must be paid to the details of cleaning. For
a pleasing appearance the seed heads must be gathered before they become
the least bit weather-beaten. This is as essential as to have the seed
ripe. Next, the seed must be perfectly clean, free from chaff, bits of
broken stems and other debris. Much depends upon the manner of handling
as well as upon harvesting. Care must be taken in threshing to avoid
bruising the seeds, particularly the oily ones, by pounding too hard or
by tramping upon them. Threshing should never be done in damp weather;
always when the air is very dry.

In clear weather after the dew has disappeared the approximately ripe
plants or seed heads must be harvested and spread thinly--never packed
firmly--upon stout cloth such as ticking, sailcloth, or factory cotton.
A warm, open shed where the air circulates freely is an admirable place,
since the natural temperature of the air is sufficient in the case of
seeds to bring about good results. Usually in less than a week the tops
will have become dry enough to be beaten out with a light flail or a
rod. In this operation great care must be taken to avoid bruising or
otherwise injuring the seed. The beating should therefore be done in a
sheet spread upon a lawn or at least upon short grass. The force of the
blows will thus be lessened and bruising avoided.

For cleaning herb seeds sieves in all sizes from No. 2 to No. 40 are
needed. The sizes represent various finenesses of mesh. All above No. 8
should be of brass wire, because brass is considerably more durable and
less likely to rust than iron. The cloths upon which the herbs are
spread should be as large as the floor upon which the threshing is to be
done except when the floor is without cracks, but it is more convenient
to use cloths always, because they facilitate handling and temporary
storing. Light cotton duck is perhaps best, but the weave must be close.





Next: A Convenient Size Is 10 X 10 Feet

Previous: For Their Benefit Therefore The Following Paragraphs Are Given



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 883