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4 Best Herbs You Haven't Tried

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
We know the usual suspects when it comes to herbs (like oregano and basil, to name a few), but have you tried any of the four herbs below? They can make all the difference in your dish!

Sage 
Use this aromatic and strongly-flavored herb with discretion. Long used as a curative herb in the Mediterranean, sage is a good choice to use with fatty meats as it aids digestion. 

Marjoram
Marjoram is a compact, bushy plant with dark green leaves. Chopped fresh marjoram can be added to salads and butter sauces. The delicate flavor of this herb also makes a wonderful tea when steeped in hot water. 

Dill
This herb tastes good mixed with mild cheeses such as cream cheese or cottage cheese as a dip for chips and veggies. Next time you make your potato salad or cucumber salad, sprinkle finely chopped dill before serving. This is very mild-flavored, so you can use quite a bit. 

Tarragon 
This is one herb with a sophisticated flavor often used in French cuisine. Infuse your white wine vinegar with sprigs of tarragon and always have a flavorful condiment on hand.
post #2 of 39
Out of this list, I use tarragon the most. I use it mostly on fish (like cod), but sometimes on roasted chicken. I sometimes use sage and dill as well, but admittedly not very often. A great dill rub on sea bass is amazing! I've never used marjoram before, but now I'm curious.
post #3 of 39
I've used them all, although I've only used Marjoram once. I wasn't... seduced. It's a pretty mild flavor, so I could barely detect it. Maybe I should try it in salads as you suggested.

Sage for me has an automatic connection to pork. If I buy sage it's usually for pork. I also always add sage to my meatballs.

Dill is probably the one I use the most. It has an automatic connection with smoked salmon for me. And to garnish tzatziki.

Tarragon I discovered once I moved to the U.S., after hearing from hundreds of people that since I was from France, tarragon must be my favorite herb. It wasn't, in fact I've never had it in France (well I've probably had it in restaurants but never paid attention). There's only ONE exception I can think of, Tarragon mustard, which is really good. But now I'll use Tarragon here and there - still not my favorite though. It's pretty close to licorice in my opinion - and I'm not a huge licorice fan.
post #4 of 39
I use all four on an infrequent basis, but I do use them.  Marjoram is indeed pretty mild, sort of like a barely flavored oregano to me.  I made a seafood quiche for a garden party this last weekend and when I got there and took a taste I realized I had forgotten the tarragon.  Of course, no one else cared, they all thought it was great, it disappeared quickly.  Tarragon is one of those herbs like cilantro, it is easy to overdo it with the stuff.

mjb.
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post #5 of 39
I use all four as they are herbs used in traditional British dishes.
post #6 of 39
I use dill the most and in many different ways.  I use it in compound butters, fish dishes, lamb dishes, chicken dishes, potato salad, and it's my preferred herb for omelets.  I don't like it in tzatziki but it's often made with it.

Marjoram is like a really mild oregano, I don't bother with it much but I use it if it falls into my hands.

Tarragon reminds me of licorice, I don't have much use for it although those who love it seem really enamoured with it.  

Sage is like cilantro to me, I can't stand the stuff although it's very fragrant and I can see why other people like it. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 39
I rarely ever use sage and if I do, it's a tiny amount.  I can't stand the smell or the taste in large quantity. (Funny Koukou, I love cilantro but sage makes me nauseous.)

I use marjoram occasionally.

I love dill.  I like to put it in hamburgers, in dips, and salads.

I don't know that I've ever had tarragon.
post #8 of 39
I wouldn't be so quick to list any herb as a usual suspect, HomeMadeCook. You might be surprised at the number of people who wouldn't know basil from bergamot. And, if you're ready to face an on-coming freight train, just ask Koukouvagia about the great oregano war.

I not only use, I grow all four that you listed. Or should say did. Marjoram is, as somebody mentioned, just a mild version of oregano. I used to use a lot of it in the dried form. But once you start using fresh oregano there isn't much need for the other, IMO. So, this year, when I rebuilt the herb garden, I left the marjoram out.

Generally speaking, in any dish that calls for marjoram, you can substitute savory with no ill effects.

Allie: Tarragon is used in all sorts of things, including many classic sauces (such as bearnaise), directly in salads, etc. It has a licoricy flavor. Imagine if you could have the flavor of anise seed in a fresh form, and you'd be fairly close. Although tarragon often perks otherwise dull things up, the way lemon juice does, it can be fairly assertive. As with basil, the dried version is totally different and, IMO, worthless. Also as with basil, it can turn black if it sits around after cutting, so you want to do that at the last moment.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I wouldn't be so quick to list any herb as a usual suspect, HomeMadeCook. You might be surprised at the number of people who wouldn't know basil from bergamot. And, if you're ready to face an on-coming freight train, just ask Koukouvagia about the great oregano war.

 

There you go now, bringing up old controversies.  I stand by my right to put oregano in anything and everything.  It would be nice to have constant access to fresh, but I make do with drying wild oregano I pick while hiking in greece during the summers.  Oregano sits right next to my salt shaker and pepper mill near the stove.  I reach for it often.

I've never had fresh savoury, I've never seen in any of the markets.  In fact that's a more unusual suspect than tarragon I would think as is lavender.

And let's not forget mint, a genuinely underused herb.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #10 of 39
I have sage, tarragon, and dill growing in my garden.  I don't use marjoram that much to make it worth growing.

Rich
post #11 of 39
In fact that's a more unusual suspect than tarragon I would think as is lavender.

I would say you're right about savory being an unusual suspect. But it differs from marjoram in that it retains it's flavor better when dried.

Lavender is becoming more popular among folks without a Med background. But, yeah, I would still class it as an unusual suspect. It's still used more as a medicinal herb than a culinary one.
 
And let's not forget mint, a genuinely underused herb.

Here I'd have to disagree. Nowadays mint is widely used, thanks to the widespread influences of Mediteranian, North African, Mideastern, and Indian/SW Asian cuisines. Maybe not as popular as basil, but I wouldn't be surprised if it runs it a close second.

And boy oh boy, is it easy to grow!

There you go now, bringing up old controversies.

Nothing controversial about it, far as I'm concerned. Those unnamed others were wrong, and you were right, and there are no two ways about it. But it demonstrates that oregano isn't quite the usual suspect some people think.

Something amusing about this herb. In her early days, St. Julia sometimes got so involved with what she was doing that she didn't relate the teleprompter to reality. So, one episode, she's mixing some stuff together, looks straight at the camera, and tells us to add a teaspoon of "oree ghan oh." Took me awhile to figure that one out.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

Sage for me has an automatic connection to pork. If I buy sage it's usually for pork. I also always add sage to my meatballs.

I don't use sage with pork, but I generally stay away from pig (at least at home). Sage in meatballs, now that's tasty! I like to add a bit of sage into shepherd's pie.
post #13 of 39
Home Cook -- Those four herbs are very common in the United States.  Dill, tarragon and marjoram are typical of Northern European cooking and sage is just plain popular. 

The post makes me more interested in you than in the question itself.  For instance:  Where did you learn to cook?  What kind of experience do you have?  Where are you located?  What are your favorite cuisines?

BDL
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post #14 of 39
O ree gah no is the way we pronounce the 'erb (or herb, as we would say)
post #15 of 39

"MINT"
       
we Irish like our minted tea, mint sauce,mint -ice-cream as well as the rest of the U.K.
 mint has been around forever in my family. (and will be because once you plant it takes off like wildfire and good luck trying to rid yourself of it)...not that I would want to I love this herb

"LAVENDER"
                         used again quite a bit in Irish and U.K. cuisine....In Irish Soda Bread and scones and desserts ...specially Lavender Ice-cream  and in our famous Lavender Irish B.B.Q Sauce  or Lavender sauce on fish  
                         Again easy to grow and pretty much takes over your Garden                

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post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Nothing controversial about it, far as I'm concerned. Those unnamed others were wrong, and you were right, and there are no two ways about it. ...

Right on

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I wouldn't be so quick to list any herb as a usual suspect, HomeMadeCook. You might be surprised at the number of people who wouldn't know basil from bergamot. And, if you're ready to face an on-coming freight train, just ask Koukouvagia about the great oregano war.
I just said they are the usual suspect because they are most likely what most of us know when we say herbs. I would really be surprised if a lot of people doesn't know basil. 
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeMadeCook View Post



I just said they are the usual suspect because they are most likely what most of us know when we say herbs. I would really be surprised if a lot of people doesn't know basil. 

Might be a cultural thing then: I knew dill and sage way before I ever discovered basil (which at first I couldn't stand).
post #19 of 39
I just said they are the usual suspect because.......

I understood your meaning. Something we all do, however, is project our own knowledge, assuming that others share it. My point was simply that with herbs (and even more so with spices) we can't do that, because herbs are a newish thing for many cooks. Particularly when it comes to using fresh herbs.

Plus, of course, there are all the cooks who only know basil in its dried form----which amounts to the same thing as not knowing basil.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 39
I agree, herbs are not widely known.  People who defrost ready meals and heat up the contents of a can wouldn't know an herb from a weed.  I even know lots of greek people who don't use any herb other than dried oregano. 

Fresh herbs are expensive and many folks won't shell out the money in the market for them.  For me no meal is complete without the addition of a fresh herb, they're fragrant and extremely nutritious. 

I didn't start using basil until March 2009 - until then I'd heard of it but it tasted too sweet for me until I started incorporating into my cooking and experimenting with it until I grew to love it.  Greeks grow basil all over their gardens but they don't eat it, it's just a plant.  Whereas dill is widely used in many dishes in our cuisine.  So see you can't say that some herbs are usual suspects while others aren't.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #21 of 39
Always had a herb garden and transplant it when I move house. Usually start one at work if possible....grew basil & cherry toms this year & specialed  ensalata Caprese with local mozzarella...sold well but a pain to prep to order when your busy!

Dill...Popular in Scandinavia. I was told this is the only herb that retains full flavour when dried. I use it in Gravlax, Kokoda & Chowder...fish, seafood.

Tarragon...Can't go past Bearnaise...old school but retro...Pumpkin & tarragon soup works.

Marjoram...I thought this was native to Greece & the Mediterraen & that Marjoram was also known as Wild Oregano but it's the other way round. Don't use it much...usually just as garnish.

Sage...I've always associated this with pork & chicken, white meats...this year ran a chicken breast with a pork, pecan & sage stuffing & a cranberry jus(lie)...an Xmas turkey knockoff, went well. Saltimbocca is probably its most stunning use.

What about kaffir lime leaves, anyone into them?....now there's a fragrant herb, great in a rissotto.
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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post #22 of 39
I have a small about 6 foot oval kiddie pool setting on the corner of my back deck. I pulled the drain plug on it and converted it to mostly a herb garden. I have Oregano (golden and greek) Basil, Tyme, Lemon Tyme, Tarragon, Chamomile, Parsley and I'll add a few other in the coming weeks like Marjoram, a lemon cucumber (which trails out on the deck) and an Early Girl Tomato.

Rosmary and Lavender are growing in Cedar pots and mint (spearmint and peppermint) in 5 gallon buckets. Sage and dill are in the actual garden and last year I had a Stevia plant but haven't found one this year yet. I can't say that I use them all effectively and while part off the infrequently used list, of them all I use Rosemary the most and it comes back year after year in the cedar pot. Often I go out and get a spring to shear up on salmon though I do like the dill too on salmon and carrots.

In the summer I step out the back door to the deck and get a fresh tomato, cucumber and some herbs to add into a salad and as the deck is waist high and the pool is at the edge, I can stand on the lawn for any minimal up-keep. The herbs are prolific enough that I give fresh samples to friends to experiment with.
post #23 of 39
Disaster here yesterday.  The lawn service thought they were being helpful by taking a weed wacker to all the nasty weeds along the front of the house.  The "weeds" were mint that was just getting good and thick.  We grow lots of herbs and vegetables around the edge of the house interspersed with flowers to keep the neighbors happy.  Needless, to say we told the service to just stick to cutting the grass in future.

One of my favorites is to mix a tbsp each of fresh minced mint, brown sugar and lemon zest and toss it with sauteed carrots.

Rich
post #24 of 39
like Marjoram, a lemon cucumber (which trails out on the deck) and an Early Girl Tomato.

BCycler, can I ask why Early Girl as your tomato choice?

Almost all the herbs you mentioned are either perennials or self-seeding annuals, so you shouldn't have to replant them each year. The basils are annuals, though. And the parsley is a biennial, so should be replaced every second year.

Rich: The upside, of course, is that it was the mint---which will bounce back pretty quickly. Had it been the basil you'd probably beat the rap as justifiable homicide.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #25 of 39
KyH, I live near Portland, OR,  the growing season is moderate in length and the Early Girls get going a little faster. The plant size works well in the pool though I still do a little trimming and it can try to take over the limited space well into the growing season. The fruit size is smaller to medium which works fine to grab a fresh one for a dinner salad and I've had good luck with the flavor. It produces well once established and I've not had any disease problems, my only complaint is that the skin can be a little thick.

Along with what I put in the garden I usually try a couple of others in 5 gallon buckets (with drainage holes) on the deck but the results haven't been nearly as good. There may be better  the Early Girl (for the purpose) but it's worked well in the past so I keep going back to it but I’m always open to suggestions.  I've rotated the bucket varieties with little improvement so this year I think I’ll try something larger than the 5 gallon container.

The Oreganos never really went away, the Lavender, Parsley and mints did come back, some of the Thyme did too but the Lemon Thyme suffered.  The Marjoram, Basils and Tarragon died off as did the Stevia along with Lemon Balm, the sage returned. It just seems to depend on how much extended cold weather we get. This last winter had stretches of a few days consistently below freezing but it wasn't anything like the previous year. - Gene 
post #26 of 39
I have to chime in with three more unusual suspects. Chervil, shiso and epazote. Maybe you know them already. Chervil is like basil, not worth much dried, but it is such a pretty little plant to grow. Shiso is easy as basil and reminds me of a coleus plant, just gorgous in the garden and tastes a bit like cinnamon basil. I haven't tried growing epazote yet. I understand it is much more intense fresh than what you can get dried. Like most herbs, I suppose.
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post #27 of 39
Keep in mind that epazote is essentially a dessert plant, so should be grown like the succulents: open, sandy soil, water to a minimum. I've only used it in the dry form, when cooking gassy foods like beans.

Chervil comes and goes in popularity. Right now, I'd say, we're on the down edge of a popularity wave.

I've never used shiso, but have seen it. It's a pretty plant, that's for sure.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #28 of 39
BCycler, I grow all sorts of tomatoes in 5-gallon pails. The size, of itself, shouldn't be a hinderance.

Let me suggest a couple of things. First, been my experience that if you put holes in the bottom they tend to clog. Instead, drill holds an inch or two up the sidewalls. That will promote better drainage.

Next, keep in mind that balancing moisture and nutrient requirements is more difficult in any container than it is in the open. Because the bucket tends to dry out faster, you water more frequently. This, in turn, leeches out the nutrients. So you have to fertilize more often.

It's possible those have been your problems???
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #29 of 39
though ive heard of all these herbs before... I have yet to use one of them in my cooking!!!
post #30 of 39
KYH, I've fretilized, not fertilized, watered more frequently, less frequently but I haven't tried the holes up the side of the bucket and it sound like a good idea!
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