Things You Know & Things You May Not – Week 3 of the 2015 Herb CSA

In this week’s parcel, we have included:

Basil

Oregano

Sage

Thyme

Garlic Chives

Also added as a bonus, garlic scape pesto.

Garlic scapes courtesy of Ernest “And Forthright” Rando, of Fox Hollow Farm.

 

Please use or freeze your pesto within a few days.


Basil

 Basil 1

Basil’s refreshing clove and anise-like aroma conjures up memories of summer, hardly surprising when one considers how this warmth-loving annual thrives in heat and expires with the first chills of winter.  The sweet taste is far less pungent than the permeating, heady aroma of the freshly picked leaves would suggest, thus large quantities can be used with safety. The origin of basil goes back to India, where it was considered a sacred herb. It is also native to Iran and Africa and was known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Culpeper links Basil to poison through the observation of its effects in drawing venom out of wounds and the proclamation that “like draws to like.” He even goes so far as to say that basil can generate scorpions, possibly even inside someone’s skull. This scorpion connection is often linked to the Greek story of the basilisk, which in turn is linked to basil in the name basilicum. In some folklore, basil is said to have been used to ward off both the look and bite of this king of serpents.


Oregano

 Oregano 1

The flavor and aroma of Oregano is mildly savory and grassy and resembles thyme, with an agreeable bitterness and lingering camphor quality. Native to the Mediterranean region, for centuries Oregano was cultivated as a flowering and strewing herb. Oregano has a more complex flavor profile when dried, and for this reason is uses almost exclusively in its dried form in many traditional regional dishes. Oregano complements basil, and the combination of these two herbs with liberal amounts of tomato has become synonymous in most developed and developing countries with pizza and Italian pasta.

An old wives tales states: “If you anoint yourself with Oregano before sleeping, you will dream of your future spouse.


Sage

 Sage

Sage has a high pungency level similar to that of rosemary and thyme with an aroma that is fresh, head-clearing and balsamic. The flavor is herbaceous, savory and astringent with hints of peppermint. Dried sage leaves retain the characteristic aroma and flavor of fresh sage so well, it seems more like a concentrated version. Sage is native to the northern Mediterranean coastal areas of southern Europe and still grows wild on hills in Dalmatia, who are famed for the quality of their sage. Sage is the perfect accompaniment to fatty foods such as pork, goose and duck. It gives the best result when used in moderation and in dishes that are being cooked for a long time. Such is the power of sage that its flavor is rarely diminished by exposure to extended cooking times.

“The spirit in the smoke of the sage is very offensive to all evil beings and they will fly from it. They even fear the herb of sage and will not stay where it is. So if anyone carries sage, or keeps it near, the evil beings fear to come near such a one.”
~ George Sword


Thyme

Thyme

Garden thyme is a small perennial shrub that may vary widely in appearance depending upon the soil and climatic conditions it is growing under. Generally this variety of thyme is stiff and bushy in appearance with many thin erect stalks no higher than 12 inches that are covered by pairs of small, narrow, elliptical gray-green leaves. The aroma of thyme is pungent, warming, spicy and agreeable. Its flavor is similarly pungent and warming with a lingering, medicinal, mouth-freshening sharpness that comes from the presence of an important volatile oil, thymol. Thyme is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and many species come from an area that encompasses southern Europe, western Asia and North Africa.

Among the Greeks, the phrase “to smell of thyme” was a sincere compliment implying gracefulness.


Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives

Native to China, are the smallest species of the onion family. The herb has a fresh garlic-like taste. This variety resembles common chives in its clumping growth. Use them as you would regular chives, such as a garnish, in marinades, and during the last few minutes of cooking to add zest to a dish.

Garlic chives have been used as culinary herbs for thousands of years and were probably used first by the Chinese and ancient Greeks.

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