Herb Cookery: Vintage Tip Sheet

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Balm

Picture of Fresh Lemon Balm - Tipnut.comThe leaves have a delightful lemon flavor, but when used fresh should be subjected to a little simmering in boiling water to bring out their true flavor. Some herb leaves used fresh do not require this, but balm leaves do.

  • Use with hot tea, in cold fruit punches.
  • Add a small one to milk scalding, just before making a custard, and removing leaf of course, before finishing the mixture.
  • Add a leaf or two to the milk scalding in preparation to make ice cream, made with the custard basis. Remove leaves when milk is scalded.
  • Add a leaf to the sugar and water syrup which is brought to the boil, ready to make a boiled icing for your favorite angel cake.
  • When removing a cake from the oven, and placing on a wire cake rack to cool, place a fresh balm (or rosemary, or lavender, or sweet marjoram or basil) leaf in the center of the wire cake rack, turn freshly baked still hot cake on top, remove cake pan, and allow cake to cool before icing. The cake will absorb definite flavor from the leaf, just enough, and not too much. And your family or guests will exclaim at the new delicious flavor!

Basil

Picture of Fresh Basil - Tipnut.comExcellent to flavor soups, some sauces, salads, etc.

  • Add a little of this flavor to cream cheese, blend well, and use as a sandwich filling or as a spread on crackers.
  • If using in soups, such as stock mixtures, add just a few leaves while soup is cooking and remove after an hour. This is long enough for basil to be cooked with soups.
  • Using in salad, a very few leaves are finely minced and tossed with salad greens. Or a larger leaf may be crushed and wiped around inside the salad bowl.
  • Lovely in homemade pestos, check out this page for instructions and recipes.

Borage

Used seldom in cooked dishes, mostly in summer punches–those delicious cold fruit beverages, and in some salads, especially when fruits are used as the basic ingredients. As a matter of fact, borage seems to combine better with fruit juices, or fruits in salads than with many vegetables. This herb is not used in pickling, or in sauces to any extent.

Caraway

The seeds are used most often for sprinkling on top of little cakes, cookies, buns and fancy breads.

  • When used in combination with foods, such as in–right in–the cookie dough, or in seed cakes, etc., use only in small quantities (according to your individual taste).
  • Use a few too, in your creamy mashed potatoes occasionally, and especially in your delicious potato salad.
  • Cottage cheese takes kindly to the addition of a few caraway seeds, by way of a change.

Dill

Picture of Fresh Dill - Tipnut.comOf course–for pickles! But this belongs in some other dishes too, for a few short sprigs of fresh dill added to some soups, meat sauces, and gravies, make of them something to remember!

  • You might try slitting a small hole in the side or top of a fresh roast of pork and poking a thin slice of garlic and a small sprig of dill in this, then roasting the pork as usual–Ummmmm!

Sweet Fennel

Use this one most sparingly, as the leaves and seeds are both used and have a sweet hot flavor to them.

  • One or two leaves added to fish that is to be boiled or steamed, is excellent.
  • The seeds, added in minute quantities, are pleasant additions to some fruit pie fillings too.

Horehound

Though used mostly in candy-making nowadays, there are still some who add a leaf or two to a cup of hot tea, when one is weary, and feels a cold coming on. Yes–another of those grandmother remedies–but still used in many parts of the country! Use sparingly as the flavor is very strong.

Lavender

Picture of Fresh Lavender - Tipnut.comSurely you all have some of this in your garden, if only for the sweet fragrance for your bed linen? Grow it in quantities–it’s delightful when fresh or dried.

  • Some folk mix lavender and rosemary leaves for drying, to use packed in the linen cupboard.
  • Lavender is used very occasionally for flavoring foods–mostly to add faint flavor to an icing or sponge cake.

Sweet Marjoram

Picture of Fresh Marjoram - Tipnut.comShould be used a great deal more than it is, and it is definitely deserving of a good place in the kitchen.

  • Use either fresh or dried in soups, meat or vegetable sauces, cooking with boiled or steamed fish, in dressings for poultry and fish, and even in meat loaves to be served hot.

Mint

One of the favorites:

  • Picture of Fresh Mint - Tipnut.comAdd a few leaves to fresh peas or beans when cooking;
  • Crushed fresh mint leaves add flavor and distinction to a number of fruit beverages.
  • Add to some pickles and relishes.
  • Use in making some sauces for lamb, mutton, fresh pork.
  • Used in making some jellies and conserves.
  • Excellent combined with apples.

Mustard

The very young tender leaves are excellent chopped fine and added to various salad combinations; seeds are used in making pickles and relishes, and in cooking with some vegetable dishes.

Poppy Seeds

These are used to sprinkle on top of yeast rolls and breads, and on crisp thin cookies.

Rosemary

Picture of Fresh Rosemary - Tipnut.comDelightful fragrance from this herb!

  • Use dried either alone or with dried lavender to sweeten your household linens.
  • Pack attractive little bags with the mixture for gifts.
  • Use fresh rosemary leaves to flavor some fruit jellies.
  • To add a touch of freshness in flavor to sponge and other light cakes by placing a leaf under the cake while it is cooling.
  • Rosemary leaves make a fine herb tea too and are occasionally used in combination with balm, for flavoring fruit punches as well as hot tea.

Sage

Picture of Fresh Sage - Tipnut.comThough used most often in poultry and meat dressing, sage has other uses too:

  • Try rubbing a few fresh sage leaves on a roast of fresh pork before roasting.
  • A pinch–just a pinch mind you, or even less, added to cream cheese, and well blended makes a delicious spread for sandwiches or crackers.
  • The same minute quantity added to bacon drippings or butter, melted, then the whole poured on top of hot flaky rice served as a vegetable is excellent.

Thyme

As poetical as any herb and as useful.

  • Picture of Fresh Thyme - Tipnut.comThyme has a sharp pleasant flavor, useful for sauces, soups, dressings, either the fresh leaves or dried.
  • Occasionally a very few fresh thyme leaves are chopped exceedingly fine to add to salad greens and tossed gaily in the bowl.
  • Add a few too, to some egg dishes such as omelettes, creamed eggs, etc.
  • And for something fresh and delightful for a salad dressing to serve on fruit salads, add a speck or so of finely chopped thyme leaves to French dressing, shake vigorously, and serve immediately.

Tips

  • Don’t forget to experiment with combinations too! Sometimes a leaf of this one, a sprig of that, a leaf of another, when combined, are grand additions to some dishes. For example: A sprig each of thyme, balm, and rosemary, tied in a cheesecloth bag and added to a meat stock the last hour of cooking, then the bag removed and discarded, results in what might be called a super-soup. To add the final touch to this particular soup, clear it so well that it could be a mirror, and serve with a minute sprinkle of grated cheese on top.
  • Dried herbs may also be used in combination to good advantage. Crushed bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoonful, mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of crushed sage leaves, 1 teaspoon of crushed thyme leaves, 1 teaspoonful of finely chopped parsley from your kitchen garden, and perhaps 1 tablespoonful of crushed dried celery leaves, makes an excellent combination.

Take time to enjoy your garden, not just in the summer, and not just the fragrance of it, but make good use of all it offers you in flavor as well. For preserving and drying herbs, here are 10 easy methods to try.

Source: McFayden’s Vegetable Cook Book (1948)

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Published: February 19, 2009

What Readers Are Saying:
3 Comments to “Herb Cookery: Vintage Tip Sheet”
  1. Greg says:

    Thank-you so much for the info. I started an herb garden of sorts last year and am currently planning to add more plants. Your uses of herbs helps me greatly in determining which ones I would like to have in my garden.

  2. Janet says:

    i love rosemary with scrambled eggs. It gives them a nice, fresh, earthy taste.

  3. Blanche says:

    Lovely list! I use Sweet Marjoram in my pot roast – try it! I bet you won’t make pot roast without it! :)


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