Pot to Plate
Tired of reading labels and wondering what they really mean by "Natural Flavors"?
If you're like us, you're looking for ways to reduce the unknown chemicals you're feeding yourself and your family. Cooking with fresh herbs and vegetables can mean you'll finally learn what combinations of real identifiable "natural flavors" are on your plate. As an added bonus, you can start reducing the amounts of salt, sugar, and fat in your recipes. Here at Uncle John's, we are committed to bringing you plants that really are ready to go from the pot, right to your plate.
Within these pages, we will pass along some helpful information for growing and using your own herbs, fruits and vegetables. Be sure to check back often, as we add new add new articles or feature unusual and exciting varieties that you may want to try in your own garden!
Cooking With Fresh Herbs
Selection: Choose herbs that look fresh and clean with no discoloration or damage. The goal is to protect the natural oils that are responsible for giving herbs their flavors and aromas. Anything that prematurely crushes the herb leaves is going to reduce the oils.
Storage: Wash the herbs in cool (not cold) water right before you're ready to use them. Pat them dry with paper towels. For storage up to a week, treat them like flowers: trim off the ends of the stems on the diagonal. Then arrange in a vase or glass in an inch of water. Loosely cover with a plastic bag to keep clean but allow for air circulation.
Fresh Herb Uses:
General Guidelines for Cooking with Fresh Herbs:
1. Dried herbs are stronger than fresh. Powdered herbs are stronger than crumbled. Use this formula for substituting fresh herbs in recipes: 1/4 teaspoon powdered herbs = 3/4 to 1 teaspoon crumbled = 2 teaspoons fresh.
2. Everyone has a different opinion so experiment with small amounts and see what you like.
3. Generally, it's not good to mix two very strong herbs together. However, one strong and other milder flavors tend to complement both the stronger herb and the food.
4. The weaker the flavor of the main staple item, the lower the level of added seasoning required to create a pleasing balance of tastes
5. Fresh herb flavors are lost by extended cooking. Add herbs to stews or soups about 45 minutes before completing the cooking. For cold foods such as dips, cheese, vegetables, and dressings, add herbs the night before or at least several hours before serving.
6. To learn more about how each herb tastes, try mixing one with margarine or butter and let it sit for at least an hour. Then spread on a plain cracker.