Grow it, Cook it, Eat it series returns with growing herbs and two new offerings

Bring your garden and menus alive with herbs. Register now for the “Healthful, Homegrown Herbs” workshop Aug. 24 to learn how to incorporate their amazing flavors into your menus.

The first class in the “Grow it, Cook it, Eat it” series of three classes, “Healthful, Homegrown Herbs” is Aug. 24, 2017, 6-8 p.m. All classes this year will be at the Ingham County 4-H Fairgrounds Community Center, 700 E. Ash Street, Mason, MI, 48054. Other classes in the series include “A Mediterranean Feast” on Sept. 20 and “Add an Asian Influence” on Oct. 26.

Herbs add flavor to grilled and roasted meats, vegetable dishes and salads prepared from your garden. They can be used in baked goods or to make refreshing summer drinks. When you consider the cost of dried herbs at the supermarket, you may find that growing your own herbs is well worth it.

Herbs are easy to grow, and most of them are deer-proof. Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew has evaporated, but before the heat of the day. Herbs for culinary use should be harvested before they flower, for best flavor.

One of the most commonly used herbs is parsley (Petroselinum crispum), but just because it is common doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Parsley is available in two types: curled leaf and flat Italian parsley. Curled parsley is good for garnishes and makes a beautiful edging for flower and vegetable beds, but Italian parsley has the superior flavor for cooking. Chopped parsley is a flavorful addition to soups, salads and dressings, and is frequently used as a component of herb blends.

Gremolata is a simple condiment made from chopped parsley, lemon zest, garlic and a little olive oil. It adds a refreshing note to grilled meats and vegetables, or used as a sauce for pasta. Chimichurri is another herb mixture that features parsley. It combines parsley with garlic, oregano, olive oil, pepper, sea salt and vinegar to create a blend that works as a marinade or condiment.

Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb that goes especially well with beans. Many people have never tried it. Winter savory works well in stuffings, with meats or poultry, or soups, and combines nicely with oregano, basil and thyme. Its small leaves and delicate, white flowers make an attractive addition to an herb garden.

Mints come in many flavors. In addition to the most well-known peppermint and spearmint, there are ginger mint (Mentha x gentilis), orange mint (Mentha piperita ‘Citrata’), pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘variegata’), apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) and many more. Mints, particularly spearmint, are commonly used to make iced and hot teas, but their culinary use, of course, goes way beyond that. Mints are popular in many ethnic cuisines; Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cooking often utilize mint.

Want to learn more about growing these herbs and others, and how to use them to enhance your cooking? Enroll in the ”Grow it Cook it Eat it” class, “Healthful, Homegrown Herbs,” to get first-hand tips on growing herbs. Taste and learn how to prepare many simple and delicious new recipes, and take home recipes to try at home.

Register today at Healthful, Homegrown Herbs. Registration closes Aug. 21.

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