Herbs are divided in to two broad families: Labiatae (basil , marjoram, balm, mint, oregano, rosemary, summer savory, sage, thyme), which owe their Latin name to the fact that their petals form two lip-like lobes; and Unbelliferae (dill, aniseed, caraway, chervil, coriander, cumin, fennel, parsley), whose flowers grow in <"unbel"> that is, flat or rounded clusters.
Herbs are available fresh or dried. When fresh, they should be mold free and their leaves should not be discolored or dry.
Finely chopped fresh herbs bring more flavor to foods. Use a pair of scissors or well sharpened knife to avoid crushing tem.
There are viturally no limits, other than personal tastes and preferences, for the uses of herbs. Don't be afraid to be innovative. Although certain herbs are associated with particular foods;for example, basil with tomatoes, tarragon with vinegar or chicken, mint with lamb and peas- these combinations are far from exclusive.
Food temperature also has a significant impact on the amount of flavor released by herbs. Although heat frees essential oils, the resulting taste and aroma quickly fade. Prolonging cooking particularly vigorous boiling and cooking without a lid, is thus inappropriate for most herbs. Generally speaking, you should add herbs at the end of cooking, particularly in the case of more fragile herbs. Rosemary , thyme , sage, bay leaf, and savory are nevertheless ideal seasoning in simmered dishes. When preparing cold dishes, add herbs well before serving to give them time to impart their flavor, as the cold temperature slows down the development of aromas and lessens their intensity; increase the amount of seasoning when preparing cold foods.
Keep fresh herbs in the refrigerator. If they are dirty or sandy, rinse them gently just before using them. Wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag, herbs stay fresh for several days. Those herbs that still have their roots can be kept longer, place them in fresh water at room temperature,like cut flowers. You can also wrap the roots in a damp cloth and store the herbs in a plastic bag in the warmest part of your refrigerator.
You can freeze the herbs whole or chopped, without blanching; if you wash them, be sure to dry them thoroughly.