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Herbs – fragrant, delicious, irresistible


Herbs for cooking, for your bath, your health, your garden or your balcony! Click on the headings that interest you and read more about fresh and dried herbs, the diversity of varieties, how to make your own bath salts, plus amusing anecdotes about individual herbs. Enjoy!

Herbs and their many varieties



Fresh herbs have an incomparable flavour! Basil, for example, or lavender, marjoram, lemon balm, parsley, mint, rosemary, sage, chives or thyme. Great for cooking, they also make lovely decorations and can be used to create wonderfully fragrant herb gardens. Lots of herbs now come in many different varieties, each distinguished by its own particular flavour and also appearance. Oregano, for example, need not necessarily be green. It also comes with yellow foliage as well as lilac, pink-red and white flowers. As for thyme, you will come across garden thyme, orange thyme, green and bright yellow lemon thyme as well as white thyme and Portuguese thyme. Regarding sage, the choice of different varieties is so large it easily exceeds the scope of this article.
 
Tip: Don't worry about buying more than you need yourself. Herbs are great for your own cooking, but they also make an original gift for dear mothers, best friends, helpful neighbours, kind colleagues and enthusiastic hobby cooks.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.


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Herbs – setting the scene


 
Frequently used herbs are usually kept in the kitchen, others make a nice decoration on the balcony or look pretty growing just outside the door or in a special herb garden – sending a clear signal that this house is home to someone who likes good food! 
Setting the scene is important. Whether you plant your herbs in clay or ceramic pots, in cute nostalgic enamel or china pots, in rustic baskets or even picturesque old olive oil tins with the lid removed: be careful to make sure that everything fits in with the surroundings. The overall effect is what counts. 
If you want to avoid errors and decide to label your herbs, you'll find that specialist suppliers stock a large choice of pretty tags in slate, ceramic and wood. Another useful snippet: perennial herbs that resist cold temperatures and night frosts include lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.





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Storing herbs for a few days


 
Fresh herbs taste best, no doubt about it! If that's not possible, try not to store your herbs for too long. If they have to stay in the refrigerator for a few days, wash them, pat them dry and wrap them in a plastic bag or place on a piece of damp kitchen paper inside a plastic container that you should put in the vegetable compartment. You can store delicate herbs such as chervil, mint, dill, chives, lemon balm and lovage like this for up to five days, hardier herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme will last for up to ten days. 

Tip: don't put your herbs in water after buying. If you do, they will tend to lose their nutrients more quickly and wilt because their metabolic processes continue to run. If you need to store herbs for longer periods, you can dry them, freeze them or put them in oil (see below).

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.



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Drying, freezing or placing your herbs in oil


 
If you only buy fresh herbs occasionally, but would always like to have some on stock anyway, you can dry, freeze or place your herbs in oil.
  • To dry your herbs, tie them in small bundles and hang them up somewhere shady and well aired, with as little dust as possible. When thoroughly dry, transfer them to airtight glass jars.

  • Parsley, dill, tarragon, lovage, lemon balm, chives and basil can all be frozen. Wash your herbs, pat dry, chop and fill an ice cube tray with them. Add a little water and place in your freezer compartment. Now you have a stock of portion-size herb cubes, ready to add to your cooking from frozen as you need.

  • Finally, you can wash, dry and finely chop your favourite herbs and store inside small screw-top glass jars, mixed or separately. Add enough cooking oil to cover the herbs by about 2 cm – a few weeks later you will have an excellent herb oil.
Tip: Label your jars with a note of the contents.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.


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Relaxing: homemade bath salts with herbs 


 
If you enjoy a relaxing bath from time to time, we have a perfect recipe for a wonderful bath salt with herbs and rose petals:

Ingredients:
500 g sea salt; 4 heaped tablespoons powdered milk; 2-3 tablespoons dried rosemary needles; 1-2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers; a handful of dried rose petals.

Instructions:
  1. Mix the ingredients well.

  2. Transfer to a glass jar with a tightly fitting top. For a relaxing bath, dissolve about 50-100 g of this bath salt in hot water.

Tips:
Decorated with a pretty label and/or a ribbon, this homemade bath salt makes a lovely gift for a mother, a friend or anyone else dear to you. The minerals in the salt plus the powdered milk provide intensive care for the skin. The herbs develop all their fragrance in the hot water and are very good for the nose and respiratory tracts. The rose petals confer a romantic touch and look attractive.



Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.

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Burning herbs and blossoms for their fragrance


 
Fire and smoke have long been associated with purifying forces, and certain substances have been burned as a habit since time immemorial. Indeed, we have been smoking and curing food – using herbs in the process – since fire was first discovered. Many scents released by smouldering plants have a beneficial effect on body and soul. Examples include lemon balm to lift the mood; mint for its refreshing, invigorating effect; camomile to promote healing processes, harmony and balance; sage to purify and neutralise bad smells and "dense" energies ("thick air", thoughts and emotions that weigh us down); lavender to soothe, strengthen positive forces and purify rooms; marjoram (Dost) to calm agitated nerves and restore spent energy. In other words: why not give it a try? Done right, the scents are less intrusive than essential oils and much easier to tolerate for animals in particular, given that their sense of smell is so much more developed than ours.




What you need:
Incense burner; tea light; dried herbs; possibly some mortar.


Instructions: 
  1. Prepare your herbs or herb mixture.

  2. Remove hard plant parts such as the stalk and chop the herbs, using the mortar if you wish. Take care not to chop the herbs too finely as you don't want them to slip through the sieve that goes with the incense burner. 

  3. Put the tea light inside the burner, light the burner and place the metal sieve on top of it.

  4. Place about 2 teaspoons of herbs on the sieve. Ensure that they don't all sit in a pile, but neither should they be spread out right to the edge of the sieve.

  5. Enjoy the resultant fragrance yourself (there is very little smoke) or waft it around the room with a feather and "fan" other people with it.
Tips:
You can round off the herb fragrance experience with a little plant resin such as incense. If you want to know more about herbs, we recommend any of the books written by Christine Fuchs, Marlis Bader or "herb guru" Wolf-Dieter Storl.


Herbs and other plants are also available from professional. Visit our shop HERE.



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Sage – the ancient Chinese believed that it conferred long life


 
No one really knows when or where the first sage plant appeared. One thing is sure, however: it was definitely mentioned in Chinese medicine books as long ago as 3000 BC. The Chinese called it the "plant of long life" and valued it so highly that they were willing to exchange three chests of their very best tea for a single chest of dried sage. Even then, sage was used as a medicine, a deodorant and as a preserving agent. The Greeks and Romans came to appreciate it later. In the 14th century, scholars at the famous Salernitan School of Medicine praised it with the words "Why should a man die when there is sage growing in his garden?" In short, sage has been with us for thousands of years. Not so surprising perhaps given that there are some 900 varieties of sage present almost worldwide on every continent except Antarctica and Australia. By the way, the name is derived from the Latin "salvare" meaning "to heal", an indication that many varieties have been used as medicinal plants since ancient times. Another thing: sage flowers are an excellent source of food for bees, with a potential honey yield per hectare in excess of 600 kg per year – even better than oilseed rape that is known as being good for bees.

Find out more about honey and bees HERE.

Browse our flower gifts with honey HERE.

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Rosemary – a culinary herb, medicinal plant and an alternative to incense


 
Wild rosemary originally grew in western and central areas of the Mediterranean, particularly in coastal regions. No one knows when it first appeared in Central Europe. It may have been brought by the Romans, or possibly by Benedictine Monks somewhat later. There is no doubt, however, that it was mentioned in 812 AD in the agricultural policy developed by Charlemagne. Its intense scent calls to mind holidays spent basking in the sunshine of the south. Rosemary always seems to impart a touch of the Mediterranean! This illusion is further reinforced in the spring, when this otherwise rather unremarkable plant belonging to the Labiatae family produces its sky-blue flowers. Rosemary has acquired a very long tradition in our latitudes – not only as a culinary herb, but also as a medicinal plant. There are differing views as to the origin of the name rosemary. One widespread version attributes it to the Latin "ros marinus" (dew of the ocean) due to the fact that rosemary shrubs grow along the coast of the Mediterranean and the dew collects in their flowers overnight. The other explanation is based on a reinterpretation of the Greek "rhops myrinos" (aromatic shrub), a possible connection being that rosemary was also used in religious ceremonies as a cheaper alternative for incense.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE. 

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Rosemary – gallant herb of love and marriage


 
Rosemary stands for love, loyalty and immortality, but is also known as an aphrodisiac. In ancient cultures, it was offered to gods. In the Middle Ages, a gallant troubadour would present rosemary to the lady of his choice. Even Shakespeare used the symbolism of rosemary when he has Ophelia present Hamlet with a garland of rosemary as a sign of her loyalty. Last but not least, over 2000 years ago, a typical Roman bridal bouquet would be made up of rosemary, myrtle, orange blossoms, thyme and sage. Later, rosemary even starred solo at weddings. In Germany, for example, where brides wore rosemary garlands in their hair right up to the early 20th century. There were also regions where even the groom, best man, wedding guests and the clergy would wear sprigs of rosemary as these are seen as symbols of ever-lasting love, loyalty and fertility. Possibly one of the most memorable customs was practised in Portugal and Italy, where rosemary was placed inside the bride's shoes. But perhaps the scent of the herb helped feet in high heels to get through the day "odour free"! By the way: rosemary was long regarded as the symbol of life in Belgium, where children were told that babies were plucked out of a bunch of rosemary.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.



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100% Mediterranean: rosemary for cooking


 

Rosemary is an important spice in Mediterranean cuisine. It goes well with stews, game, lamb, rabbit, chicken, seafood, fish and vegetables, is often used to make herb butter and is regarded as a classic BBQ seasoning. Rosemary is even used in desserts. Fresh rosemary smells slightly of conifer and juniper whereas dried rosemary tastes more resinous and sour. Sometimes, entire sprigs are added to the food being cooked and removed just before serving. In contrast to other herbs, rosemary can tolerate even intense heat and long cooking times. Whether fresh or dried, it has a powerful aroma that is not easy to combine with other spices. It marries well with red wine, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon peel, thyme and sea salt. And another thing: rosemary aids digestion because it takes some of the pressure off the liver-gall bladder system and improves fat digestion.

Herbs and other plants are also available from professionals. Visit our shop HERE.




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