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.