Continuing the agreement with my friend Mary to help educate folks on the use of the most common culinary herbs, this week I am addressing parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.


Parsley is probably an herb everyone is most  familiar with. The two varieties found in grocery stores are Italian flat leaf and curly parsley.  You see the latter as garnish but my favorite to grow is the flat leaf.  It is tastier and easier to clean and chop.  Since I grow under plastic in the winter, my parsley easily grows through until the weather begins to get hot. In early summer,  I plant another crop but I find the shadiest spot in the garden to put it. You can also grow it in containers just make sure you keep it well watered and shaded or it will bolt.
Parsley  is delicious in just about any savory dish. It’s healthful properties are well known. I put a handful in my smoothies to boost the nutritional value. Chopped parsley makes  beautiful garnish.  Chop a bunch and freeze in ice cube trays in water. Store in plastic bags to pop into any savory dish you want.
Parsley is usually displayed in stores alongside cilantro. I have never grown cilantro anytime but cool weather. It has a much more pungent flavor than parsley and is found in all sorts of Spanish and Mexican food
Rosemary - In South Alabama and even as far north as Huntsville, rosemary can be considered a perennial and grows to be the size of a shrub. However it will not survive a hard winter on Crow Mountain. So I plant a couple of new plants each Spring in order to get enough to dry.  I love the taste of rosemary on roasted potatoes, meats, chicken, in homemade breads and even in Apple pie. When I dry rosemary I also grind it in a spice grinder because it does not soften as well as most herbs. Until you learn to enjoy the flavor of rosemary, use sparingly. Fresh rosemary is tender when taken off the stem.
Sage is usually associated with the stuffing at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But it can be used in other dishes as well.  I like it best tossed with butter into spaghetti squash. It’s good in chicken and Turkey casseroles as well. Like rosemary, I recommend using sage sparingly. Too much and your dish will be inedible.
I had a huge sage plant in my garden for years but it bit the dust during our brutal winter this year.  I planted a new one this Spring and will hopefully have years of a sage supply.  In truth, I do not use sage nearly as much as other herbs but when it’s called for I enjoy it.
Thyme -  I grow regular and lemon thyme in my herb bed.  It is one of my favorites and, along with oregano, survived the cold temperatures last winter and came back strong.
Thyme is good with all meats, chicken, in stews, sauces and soups.
When using herbs remember that dried herbs are more potent than fresh so use 1 teaspoon of dried or 1 Tablespoon of fresh as a guide when cooking with any herb. Add herbs at the very end of cooking for the best flavor and remember they are not meant to overpower a dish. Their purpose is to enhance the flavor of your creations.  I hope this has been helpful.

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