Grow Fresh Herbs This Summer

Reader Contribution by Valerie Boese
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Grow your own fresh herbs, to enhance your creative cooking with superb fresh herb flavor. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and make foods taste so good. I grow cilantro, thyme, basil, rosemary and many more, in my raised herb bed and in the garden. Fresh herbs are power packed with nutrition and antioxidants that help the body support a strong immune system. If you grow them yourself, you will have a plentiful supply. When you have a plentiful supply, it is easy to get creative and add them to many of your favorite dishes. I plant them from seeds and plants in the spring, to enjoy all summer long.

Herbs are easy to dehydrate and store for winter, too. When I have an abundance, I dry them in a food dehydrator. I cut the herb from the garden, rinse with water and remove the stems. It is best to lay the herbs, about 1 inch deep, in a food dehydrator tray. I dry them at the herb setting of 95 degrees, until they are dry. Dill will dry in about 4 hours, cilantro will take about 8 hours, and basil about 9 hours. I check them every few hours for dryness. Once the herbs are dry, remove them and pack them in a jar with a lid. They will keep fresh for several months.

You can enjoy your own fresh herbs in the winter, too. In late summer, I transplant many of the herbs from my garden in pots, to get ready for bringing them inside for the winter. Once I transplant them into a pot, I like to leave them outside for couple weeks. This gives them a chance to reestablish themselves and do some growing before bringing them inside. I also start them from seed in pots outside. Best time to start them outside is late August; they will grow much easier, than if you were to start growing them from seeds in the house. In September, before frost hits, I move them indoors and put them in a south or east window, to enjoy them all winter. They like sun and most need to be watered 2 to 3 times a week.

Parsley is one herb that does well indoors, and it is great to add to pasta dishes all winter long. Cilantro is a little harder to keep thriving, but I can usually keep it going until about end of January before it dies down. Basil grows well inside and can be eaten all winter. Rosemary also does real well, and is great to snip off and put on bread before baking. I simply heat up snipped rosemary in a saucepan with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and then brush it my bread with it before baking, very delicious. I like to add fresh herbs to dressings and sauces. I will often take a variety of fresh herbs to make a herb honey mustard dressing. I chop fresh herbs, adding them to 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon mustard, and drizzle the dressing over oven fried sweet potatoes or fresh greens, super delicious.

Fresh herbs are great in summer salads. Fresh Herb Potato Salad is one of my favorites; it goes well with grilled meats and sandwiches. I add cilantro for special flavor that is out of this world, in a salad dressing that is half yogurt to cut the fat but not the flavor. Here is my Fresh Herb Potato Salad recipe, give it a try.

Fresh Herb Potato Salad

6 medium sized potatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Dash of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
4 tablespoons pickle relish

Peel and cut potatoes into bite-size pieces; add to large saucepan with 3 cups water. Cook potatoes until fork tender, be careful not to overcook. At a low boil. they will be done in 7 to 10 minutes.

Mix all other ingredients together to form the sauce.

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