Part of earning an online culinary arts certificate is learning how to make the most of your ingredients. Growing your own herbs is an easy and fun way to ensure you have just what you need to add a little flavor to your dishes. These are a few reasons you should consider starting an herb garden today.
1. Redefine fresh
“What’s on the shelves will never match what you grow yourself.”
Every chef becomes very familiar with the produce section at the local grocery store. You may know precisely when to show up to get the freshest produce. No matter how perfectly you time your trip, however, what’s on the shelves will never match what you grow yourself.
When you grow herbs, you can wait to cut them until right when you need them. That means never worrying about the basil and parsley getting dried out and brittle before you have the chance to put it to work. Plus, visiting the garden or the pot on your window sill is a lot more convenient than running out to the store.
2. Taste the difference
Using dried herbs is often a more inexpensive and convenient alternative to fresh ones. In some cases, such as oregano or rosemary, you may be able to get away with using the dried variety in cooking without losing too much flavor. However, fresh is almost always the tastier option.
When you grow herbs, you don’t have to worry about this dilemma. You have fresh herbs on hand at all times. It’s still a good idea to have some dried around in case of an emergency, but you’ll usually opt to snip off a fresh leaf.
3. Save money
Keeping your produce drawer and spice cabinet stocked certainly can get expensive. Raising herbs yourself is one way you can cut down on the price of essential ingredients. You won’t miss spending more to get herbs that are the same or worse in quality than what you can plant in your own home.
As an added bonus, you know everything about how those plants were raised. You never have to worry that someone used a harmful pesticide on your herbs or exposed them to contaminants. With full control, you have the options to you keep your process fully organic or thoughtfully select any fertilizer and pest control measures.
4. Add variety to your dishes
That garden offers a great opportunity to experiment with some different flavor combinations. Take advantage of your herbs to try out a new recipe or two. Grow some herbs you have rarely used in the past to encourage yourself to take risks in your cooking.
The Food Network offered several fun ideas for dishes that put fresh herbs in the spotlight. Use basil to make a pesto as a pasta topping, or simmer a pot of the French vegetarian stew, soupe au pistou?. Incorporate parsley into a butter to serve with frites or add flavor and texture to grilled artichokes with garlic.
5. Bring color to your home
In addition to tasting wonderful, your fresh herbs will look great. These plants are often easy to get started and can fit into compact spaces, so they can contribute a welcome bit of life to your backyard. Tending to the herbs will become a pleasant daily activity, with the added rewards of noticeable improvements in your cooking and grocery bill.
For students attending culinary academy, it’s essential to develop a strong understanding of how to use herbs in your cooking. The best way to do so is by growing your own. You’ll soon come to appreciate the advantages over store-bought or dried herbs, and taking care of your garden may become a lifelong hobby.