Soft vs Hard herbs and how to cook with them

herbs

Welcome to another foodie Friday!

I had this conversation with a friend recently who is a wonderful cook and gardener and she hadn’t heard the terms soft and hard herbs before so I thought I would share a bit here too in case you were the same. I love growing herbs for cooking. I love adding them to meals or tea daily and I also love how they make my garden smell so sweet. Mine are planted near my washing line and occasionally if the sheets brush over them it releases a gorgeous smell of rosemary or thyme oils.

When I use them in cooking I have a general rule that I follow, the hard and soft rule. If you grow herbs or use them often you will know that some leaves are harder and their stalks are woodier like rosemary for example while others like parsley are soft. I put the hard herbs into my cooking at the beginning and the soft herbs right at the end where possible. This works for flavour, nutritional content and colour. Have you ever added parsley at the start of a bolognese only to find it had almost disapeared and whats left are muddy looking leaves that you can’t even taste anyway? Yep, would have been better added right at the end to give a hit of fresh flavour and a nice splash of green. Herbs like rosemary can be added as a sprig right at the start of a roast and the woody bit removed at the end if you want to (I don’t) so that it infuses the oils in the cooking process and has time to soften, or strip the leaves off and toss them through your buttery potatoes before roasting.

Examples of hard herbs are thyme, rosemary and sage. Their softer herby cousins are parsley, chives, basil, mint, coriander, dill. There are lots and lots of herbs you can use and it’s just trial and error to work out how to maximise the flavour, colour and nutritional value and when to add them in the cooking process. I’m learning all the time. Hopes this kinda helps though! And for goodness sake, grown your own, they are so much cheaper, they are really easy to grow and the insects pretty much leave them alone except for the good ones like the bees, especially when they go to flower and smell amazing!

Do you love cooking with herbs?

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