Herbs are a terrific way to add flavour to foods without adding salt. Another bonus, herbs are actually good for you! They contain disease fighting, plant-based compounds called phytonutrients (or antioxidants), essential oils, vitamins, minerals, phytosterols and other beneficial plants derived nutrients.

I take pleasure in tending to my herb garden and watching it flourish every year. I also love to cook, and it is a flavour treat when I can step outside and cut a bunch of fresh basil for a tomatoe sauce, or snip parsley to add to my soup or salad dressing. Each year I grow my tried and true favourites like basil, parsley, and mint, but I also try and grow a new herb or two for variety. This year my new herb of choice was tarragon, and it has become a fast favourite of mine! It is excellent in homemade soups and salad dressings. Whether you are new to growing herbs, or you are trying to manage a bumper crop, read on to find out what some of my favourite herbs to grow are, and how to use them!


How to Use Herbs



Uses: Soups, sauces, salads, salad dressings, omelets, meat fish or poultry marinades. Excellent for making into pesto or adding the whole leaves when processing garden tomatoes. Can easily be dried for use throughout the year however, most flavourful when used fresh.

Cooking: Add at the end of cooking to maximize flavor.




Uses: Leaves have a mild onion flavor. Chop them and add them to salads, egg, tuna or salmon salad, cream cheese, mashed potatoes, and sauces. Dies nicely and maintains a mild flavour.

Cooking: Use raw, or at the end of cooking.



Uses: In fresh tomato or fruit salsas, guacamole, and Indian or Mexican dishes. Chop fresh onto salad, fish, poultry, use in marinades or salad dressing. Can be dried, but will lose colour and flavour over time.

Cooking: Can be used at beginning or end of cooking



Uses: Add sprigs to water or other cold drinks, add leaves to boiling water to make mint tea. Mint can also be used to make mint sauce or jelly. Sprinkle dried or fresh leaves over meat or poultry before cooking.

Cooking: Can be added at beginning or end of cooking



Uses: Add to soups, tomato sauces, stews, salad dressing, rice dishes, chop as a garnish for mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, salads. Make into pesto. Note: flat leaf parsley has more flavour than the curly variety and tends to be my preference for this reason.

Cooking: Add during or at the end of cooking



Uses: Excellent for poultry, pork or lamb, add to marinades, tomato sauces, use for flavouring oils or vinegar, chop finely over roast potatoes, fresh tomatoes, or salads.  Also dries beautifully and maintains its flavour when dried.

Cooking: Add an entire sprig at beginning of cooking when using inside a roasting chicken, or in sauces, stews and soups. Remove before serving. Chop very finely if adding to salads or salad dressings. Use sparingly fresh, as it tends to have an intense flavour when used fresh.



Uses: Chopped in soups, especially cream of any vegetable soup, use with chicken, shrimp, fish, eggs, potatoes, add springs to flavour oils or vinegar, in salad dressing. Can be dried and crumbled. Will be more mild flavoured when dried.

Cooking: Cooking increasing flavour, add at the beginning of cooking.


Herbs are typically the most flavourful when used fresh, but can be washed, dried and crumbled and put into sealer jars or freezer bags for use throughout the Winter months. Another great option is washing herbs and pureeing them in a blender with just enough water to create an “herb puree” that can be poured into ice cube trays and frozen. I have been successful in doing this with basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint. This year I will try it with tarragon. Once frozen, the herb cubes can can be transferred to a freezer bag and used in their individual ice cube sized portions. These “herb ice cubes” have more flavour than the dried versions of the herbs, and can be used in cooking throughout the year, or until you run out. Sadly, I usually do before the next Spring. Here’s to happy, flavourful, cooking!

Parsley cubes IMG_2009