Agricultural Extension Service
'9 4VORY OR AROMATIC HERBS
By Foods Specialists
State Home Demonstration Office
It is a commodious and a pleasant thyng to a Man-
sion, to have an orcherde of sundry fruits. But it is
more commodious to have a fayre garden repleted with
herbs of aromatycke and redolent savours.
While it may not be practical for every gar-
dener to grow any large number of savory or
aromatic herbs, yet every Florida home should
grow at least anise, basil, chives, coriander, dill, ginger,
lavender, sage, savory, mint, thyme, tarragon, tumeric,
and a few others most in demand for seasoning. These
should prove profitable and exceedingly interesting to the
Florida housewife. Whether they are grown in a real
bed of various aromatic plants, or a scattering of such
plants among the flowers in the perennial border, or in
a kitchen window box, this opportunity to add spiciness
to the potpourri of both summer and winter fragrance,
and give "seeming and savor" to soup, sauce, salad, stuff-
ing and other every-day foods, as well as to all pickles and rel-
ishes, should not be overlooked.
In the southern sections of the state many of these herbs
may be grown in the open throughout the year. In the more
northern sections certain of the biennials are grown as annuals
Formerly in Bulletin 108, Pickles and Relishes.
on account of their tendency to winter-kill. Others do not like
extreme heat or direct exposure to the sun and so require semi-
shade and plenty of moisture. Still other herbs make best
growth during the long, cool winter nights.
Culture of herbs is not difficult. Their production can be
handled to the best advantage by setting aside a small portion
of the vegetable garden or preferably the flower garden, where
the biennials and perennial herbs may be grown year after year
without disturbance. This plot should be convenient to the
water supply, should dry weather prevail, and conveniently near
to the operations of the kitchen for gathering in small and fre-
quent quantities as needed. A strip of land at one side of the
garden that is not needed and which can be conveniently skipped
in the plowing would be an ideal place for the herb garden. It
should be rather long than wide-so that the herbs can be gath-
ered without walking on the bed; three feet is a good width, as
that can be reached across fairly well. The soil should be rich
and mellow. Since many herbs are either biennials or perennials
and occupy the same place for more than one year, it is impera-
tive that the soil be well prepared-spaded or plowed-and a
liberal amount of bone meal and compost be thoroughly mixed
with the soil before seeding or setting the plants. Their culture
does not differ greatly except as to methods of propagation,
planting distances, and moisture requirements.
For best quality the herbs require to be grown rapidly, hence
the soil should be well cultivated, free of weeds and well watered
during periods of droughts.
Some of the herbs may be started by sowing the seeds where
the plants are to remain-thinning of course when well estab-
lished. Others should be started in boxes and later transplanted
to their place in the garden.
DRYING AND STORING
Methods of drying herbs and preparing them for use are also
very similar, the main point being to gather them at the proper
stage of maturity and dry rapidly in the shade, so that they will
retain their color. Herbs when sufficiently dry are crisp. Many
of them are stored in powdered form, and should be separated
from the stalks and crushed with a rolling pin or passed through
a fine sieve or food grinder to make a fine, uniform powder. Each
different variety may be stored separately or they may be
blended in a suitable mixture, with or without the addition
Here follow a few statements relative to some of the desir-
able savory or aromatic herbs most easily grown under condi-
tions offered in Florida.
Basil is considered one of the finest spices for use in pickling.
It is of two types-sweet green basil and the dwarf form. Basil
is an annual and the seeds may be planted in the open ground
where the plants are to remain. A very few plants are sufficient
for the needs of the average family. Sometimes one or two
plants of basil may be grown in the flower border.
The leaves and flowers have a clove-like, spicy flavor and are
prized for use in spiced vinegar, for pickles, in gravies, for soups,
stews, salads, and meats and fish cookery. Basil is an especially
choice flavor for tomato dishes.
Sweet green basil, too, is just the right herb for flavoring
turtle soup; seacoast towns should take notice.
When dried and powdered, basil is used for spicing meat or
other fish, sausage, liver paste and similar products. The flowers
with the tender tips of the stems with their foliage are cut, tied
in very small bunches and dried.
Caraway belongs to the same family as the herb anise and
carrots. The finely cut leaves with tiny white flowers in umbels
resemble Queen Anne's lace or wild carrot. The flavor is most
familiar to us through its use in rye bread, cakes and confec-
tionery, cheese and pickled beets. The young shoots and tender
leaves are sometimes used in raw salads. Caraway also "peps"
up a cooked vegetable salad.
The very young leaves can be finely chopped and added to
vegetable soups and gravies. The seed are saved by cutting
off the heads before the ripening seed begin to shatter and
spreading them on muslin to dry in the shade. When reasonably
dry, the seeds are rubbed out of the heads, separated from the
chaff and then stored in thin cloth bags in a well ventilated spot
to avoid their heating and becoming rancid. When dried and
powdered, caraway is used as spice for liver, smoked and other
Cardamon belongs to the ginger family. The seeds in pods
are used for pickling; ground, adds flavor to Danish pastry, coffee
cake and fancy rolls.
The chive is the smallest member of the onion family. Its
.iny bulbs grow in thick bunches, but the young tender leaves
which may be cut freely are of delicate and pleasing flavor sim-
ilar to that of a very mild onion. They add a delicate snap to
salads and dressings, dry bean dishes, jellied chicken, hot veg-
etables, omelets and other mixtures. The plant grows to a
height of 6 or 8 inches with dark green, grass-like foliage and
bears pretty, violet clusters of bloom. Hence chives should be
used more often as ornamental border plants. They are propa-
gated by dividing the clumps and resetting in the fall, preferably
in rich soil.
Coriander is an annual as easily grown in Florida as dill,
growing about the same height as dill with flower heads much
the same size. Like dill, it is grown for its seeds which are har-
vested and used for flavoring bread, poultry dressings, smoked
sausage, curries, spiced meat, fish and pickles in the same manner
as caraway seed is used.
Coriander is used also in candies-it is the interesting little
rough coated pink or white sugar plums found in some of the
best mixed sweets and that are so extremely good. It is ground
for cakes or sprinkled over cookies, sweet rolls or bread like
poppy or caraway seeds.
While the seeds of coriander are valuable as spice, they must
be thoroughly ripe and stored for some time before being used.
They have an unpleasant taste when green.
Dill is one of the very easiest and hardiest of the herbs to
grow and often reaches a height of four to five feet in Florida.
The seed should be planted in the fall. If given rich soil and
plenty of moisture the plants will have seed heads ready to cut
by the following April or May. One of the most common uses
of dill is for flavoring pickles. For this purpose the seed heads,
with several inches of the stem bearing them, are cut about the
time the seed begin to ripen and tied in bunches to cure in the
shade. In making dill pickles, generous layers of the dill are
placed in the jars or kegs with the pickles to add their distinc-
tive and popular flavor.
Garlic is used in minute quantities as a seasoning in almost
all forms of savory cooking, in omelets, salads, soups, sauces and
dressings where a delightful piquant flavor suggestive of onions
is desired. Garlic adds a distinctive, desirable flavor to dill
Garlic is the mighty atom of the onion family and is no sea-
soning to hand to a raw recruit in the kitchen. The skilled cook
has a definite technique of garlic control-uses frequently, but
in undetectable quantities. If garlic can be actually identified,
too much has been used.
Garlic comes in a bunch of cloves which are separated and
planted like onion sets.
Ginger, Zinziber officinale, often confused with the common
ornamental, ginger-lily, grows well in Florida and produces
choice roots if given rich soil, sufficient moisture and semi-
shade. Ginger will long remain as one of the world's most pop-
ular spices and should be grown in every Florida home garden.
It is an erect herb, 12" to 24" high, canna-like in appearance.
It grows from thickened rhizomes which branch finger-like and
send up new shoots from the tips near the surface of the soil.
If desired for preserving or candying, the roots should be dug
while tender and succulent, rather than when old, tough and
fibrous. Fresh green ginger is an indispensable part of chut-
neys, giving them much of their spiciness and pungent flavor
The leaves and stems of this plant have a very pleasing odor
and a peculiar, aromatic taste. The plants are cut when the
flowers are not quite open. The green parts are used for season-
ing soups, meat pies and dressings. The dwarf form of mar-
joram known as pot marjoram is sometimes used as an orna-
mental bedding plant.
Sweet marjoram was one of the most popular herbs in the
colonial garden. It, rose geranium, rosemary, lemon verbena
and lavender are the five fragrant herbs used by those careful
housewives to scent linens.
Both peppermint and spearmint are easily propagated. It
is done by taking a few of the stems with roots attached and
transplanting them to rich, moist soil. The mint bed improves
with frequent cutting and watering during dry periods. It is
well to keep one portion of bed closely sheared down while mint
is being used from another portion, thus providing a continuous
supply of fresh tips. Peppermint is not grown in home gardens
as much as spearmint, yet it may well be included in a collection.
The tender leaves and stems are used for flavoring; they must
also be dried and stored. Of the several kinds of mints grown
for their essential oils and characteristic flavors, the one known
as spearmint is most commonly planted.
Five or six plants, occupying a space 3 x 3 feet, will supply
an abundance for flavoring iced tea and other cool and refresh-
ing drinks, ices and dessert sauces.
Spearmint is used also for flavoring jellies; it gives flavor
in addition to an attractive color. In fact, mint jelly is highly
esteemed. Mint vinegar may be used at the table as a spice or
may be added to meat dishes and to different kinds of gravy
where mint flavor is desired.
The common dwarf as well as the tall nasturtiums take their
important and colorful place among the savory herbs. The half-
ripened seeds with their pungent flavor are frequently added to
mixed pickles and to mustard pickles and are a substitute for
capers. Both leaves and flowers are used in salads. Where a
continuous supply of fresh leaves and flowers is desired, plant-
ings should be made at intervals of five or six weeks.
The best known and always reliable seasoning and garnish-
ing herb is the moss curler variety of parsley. It is commonly
grown in home gardens, though the coarse-leaved turnip-rooted
varieties are used extensively in soups and stews, especially by
the people of the Mediterranean regions. Only a few plants of
the curled parsley are needed, as the plants continue to produce
stems and leaves as long as kept closely cut.
Salvia officinalis, the kitchen sage, is cousin to the vivid scar-
let Salvia. It is easily grown and one of the few herbs that still
belongs to modern everyday life. There are several varieties
of sage-green, purple and variegated. The type having whitish,
oval leaves is most commonly grown in kitchen gardens and one
or two plants will supply the leaves required for seasoning poul-
try dressing, sausage and other meats. For the best quality of
dried sage the leaves should be taken before the plants reach
the blooming stage.
Clippings can be tied in very small bunches and should be
dried quickly over the stove and stored in air-tight containers to
preserve the flavor. The common sage when in bloom is quite
ornamental and deserves a place in the flower garden.
The tender stems and leaves of both summer and winter
savory are both popular and useful herbs. They are grown, cut
and dried in the same manner. The savorys, like thyme and
sage, do much for meats but are strong-flavored and should be
Tarragon, like mint, should be in every kitchen garden, as
it contributes a special flavor to any dish to which it is added.
However, its delicate, aromatic flavor best seasons salads, vin-
egar, mustard and pickles. One of its principal uses is for mak-
ing tarragon vinegar. The leaves, fresh or dry, are the portion
used and every effort should be made to force the plants into
vigorous growth. Whenever the flower stems appear they should
Turmeric, one of the principal ingredients of the famous
Oriential curry, is grown and handled like ginger, which it re-
sembles somewhat both in its growing habits and in appearance.
This colorful condiment is used in the popular bread and butter
pickles, mustard and similar types.
Thyme belongs to the mint family but is a bit more difficult
to propagate and grow. After the plants are two to three years
old they become too woody to yield a good grade of tender stems,
and new plants should be started. The plants should be in full
bloom when bloom is seared off, together with an inch or so of
the tender stems and leaves. Like sage, thyme must be stored
away from the light in air-tight containers to preserve color,
delicate flavor and aroma. If thyme plants are grown vigorously
three or four crops of bloom are produced during the year. There
are many species of thyme-lemon thyme, clean smelling and
fragrant and a pleasant seasoning; golden thyme, silver thyme
and others. Thyme and sage are practical necessities to every
home garden. What savor would the Thanksgiving and Christ-
mas feasts have without them?
RECIPES FOR POWDERED MIXED HERBS,
SOUP AND SAUCE ESSENCES, AND HERB VINEGARS
FAGGOT OF HERBS
One ounce each of sweet basil and lemon peel, two ounces
each of dried parsley, thyme and sweet marjoram. Dry. Mix
and seal in a jar for use as desired.
One sprig each of sweet marjoram, rosemary and thyme,
two of parsley, two green onions, three whole cloves, one or
two blades of mace, two good sized peppers (Capsicum) with one
or two of the black peppercorns, a stalk of celery, and a quarter
of a lemon.
ESSENCE OF SWEET HERBS
Peel one carrot, onion, sweet potato and parsnip; seed one
large red pepper; chop with one shallot and two cloves of cin-
namon, mace, and three bay leaves. Mix thoroughly and season
with salt and pepper. Spread layers of mixture in a baking pan,
alternating with layers of brown sugar. Place in a hot oven
until it is dark brown. Add 1/2 cup of cold water; place on top
of stove; cook (stirring constantly) until it forms a brown,
thick, rich syrup. Strain. Seal boiling hot in jars. This is so
concentrated a very little will flavor and color sufficiently. This
should be kept conveniently near for fine seasoning, gravies,
stews and soups.
Make it at a time when the leaves are at their best. Cover
the leaves with vinegar, let stand three weeks, stirring each day.
Strain and bottle. Some think it should steep longer.
Mint vinegar may be used the same way. First heat a pint
of vinegar to simmering point. Pour this over a pound of
chopped mint, stir; cool and seal. For a "sweet vinegar" add a
pound of sugar and stir until dissolved. Use for lamb, mutton,
beans, peas or salads.
SWEET BASIL VINEGAR
This is made in the same manner as tarragon vinegar.
SWEET MARJORAM VINEGAR
Made also as tarragon vinegar.
1 quart vinegar 1 pound chopped celery
Y ounce celery seed 2 teaspoons sugar
(crushed) 1 teaspoon salt
Heat vinegar (being careful not to boil) with the crushed
celery seed, salt and sugar to nearly simmering, pour over the
chopped celery and allow to cool. Pour the mixture into a large
bottle and shake it well each day for 12 to 14 days. Then strain,
cool, cork and store it until needed for use.
A very good salad vinegar can be made of a mixture of 3
ounces each of tarragon, savory, chives and shallots, a handful
of the tops of mint and balm, all dried and pounded. Put into
wide-mouthed bottle or jar with a gallon of the best vinegar.
Cover closely and let stand for a month, shaking or stirring daily.
Then press all the juice and vinegar from the herbs. Let stand
a day to settle, then strain through flannel bag. Bottle and seal.
USE COMMON HERBS IN COOKING
for added appeal
a touch of the unusual
SOME GENERAL RULES WHEN USING HERBS
1. Use a light hand. You want just enough flavor to compli-
ment your dish, but not crowd out the flavor of the food.
2. Blends should be so subtle that only you and an expert, per-
haps, can. tell what herb you have used.
3. If fresh herbs are used, chop very fine so that more of the
herb oils can escape.
4. Blending or heating with butter, oleo or salad oil is the best
way to draw out and extend the flavors of herbs.
5. Soak dried herbs in a teaspoon of water and/or lime juice
for 15 minutes before using.
6. For soups and sauces or vegetable juice cocktails, tie sprigs
of fresh herbs in boquets, or put dried herbs in small cloth
"bag" and add. Let remain in soups or other hot dishes 15
minutes, in chilled juices 1 hour.
7. Herbs left too long in any dish will develop strong flavors.
8. For casseroles, a la kings, add the finely chopped fresh or
dried herbs directly to mixture. Remember, a little does a
WHEN TO USE WHICH HERB
1. Anise-leaves-salads, especially apple. Seeds cookies,
2.( Balm, lemon-leaves-steep for a delicate aromatic drink or
add to hot or cold tea. Use lemon and sugar.
3. *Basil-leaves-tomatoes, cucumbers, green salads, egg.
4. Caraway-seeds-boiled with potatoes in jackets, potato
salad, cream or cottage cheese, cookies. Partly matured
green caraway seeds are delicious to munch.
5. Chervil-leaves-salads and salad dressings, soups, omelets;
chief ingredient in what the French call "fine herbes".
6. *Chives-leaves-more delicate than onion; blend with any
herb mixture; use in salads and omelets, with cream and
7. Coriander-seeds-cookies, french dressing.
8. *Dill-leaves-broiled or fried meats and fish, fish sauces,
creamed or fricasseed chicken.
9. *Fennel, sweet, leaves-fish, salads.
Stems-blanched stems of Florence fennel eaten raw like
celery, added to salads, or braised in meat stocks.
10. Garlic-buy-Italian* foods, kosher foods, salad dressings,
cocktail sauces, bar-be-que sauce, beef and lamb roasts.
11. Ginger-root-preserves, chutneys, curries, tea, cookies,
12. *Marjoram-cold meat sandwiches, meat and poultry stuff-
ings, gravies and soups.
13. *Mint-leaves-lamb, peas, cream of pea soup, tea, fruit
14. *Parsley-leaves, stems-sauces, meat loaves, soup, casse-
roles, cocktails, garnish, sandwiches.
15. *Rosemary-leaves-use sparingly for special accent with
cream soups made of leafy greens, poultry, stews, sauces.
Blend chopped parsley and a little rosemary with sweet but-
ter and spread under the skin of breast and legs of roasting
16. Sage-dried leaves-use sparingly with onion for stuffing
pork, ducks and geese; pound fresh leaves and blend with
cottage cheese and cream cheese.
17. Savory-dried leaves-string beans, soups, stuffings and
sauces for veal and poultry, egg dishes, and salads.
18. Tarragon-leaves-leading accent in green salads, salad
dressings, salad vinegars, fish sauces, tartar sauce, some
19. Thyme-leaves-meat and poultry stuffings and gravies,
soups and egg dishes.
20. Winter savory-leaves-important accent in chicken and
turkey stuffing, sausage, and some egg dishes. Combine
with parsley and onion juice for French omelets.
21. Oregano-dry-use in Italian dishes, especially pizza pie,
enchilladas, ravioli, lasagne.
Herbs which you can grow successfully in kitchen window box or in
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. 0. Watkins, Director