An Introduction To Herbs

Natural herbs have been in use since the dawn of time. The Chinese have been using these flavorful weeds for everything from spicing up a favorite dish to curing allergies. Common herbs are most known for their culinary uses.
There are medicinal applications for herbs as well. The Native Americans knew the value of an herb. Whether it was to cure a toothache or cure an upset stomach, there was an herb for everything.
Some of the best foods are made to taste that way because of an herb. What would a pumpkin pie be without the herbs. The most popular sausages get their flavoring from natural herbs. Most of them can be grown right in the household garden.
People forget the value of an herb until they try to cook without them. Herbs may be an overlooked little plant in the yard, but it is a plant that can pack a punch. They have been for centuries.
While hiking in the Alps two people came across the body of a man whom the hikers thought had fallen and been injured. As it turned out, it was the discovery of the century.
The body was that of a man who had lived over 5,000 years ago. He had been caught in the big freeze with the entrance of the ice age.
What made this so unique were the things he carried with him. One of these items was a small leather pouch of herbs. The herbs were reputed to be for medicinal purposes. Herbs have been used for trading in ancient times.
Travels to the far east brought wonderful spices like ginger and cinnamon to Europe. Sage was in demand in Asia. From the desire to have these aromatic and medicinal plants came many trade routes. The demand for herbs opened many doors to different cultures.
The early uses of herbs were mainly dedicated to medicine. People discovered certain plants made the body feel better, more relaxed, or in less pain.
Chamomile gives a calming effect. Most mints can settle an upset stomach. For the longest time, herbs were the only medicines anyone knew about.
Once it was realized that supernatural spirits were not the cause of many illnesses, herbs became more and more important.

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Herbs in the Kitchen

Anyone who has ever done any type of baking or cooking knows that the food just tastes better with seasoning. This can be as simple as adding salt and pepper, or complicated as using a blend of spices for the perfect taste.
What is surprising to some people is pepper is an herb. Pepper is a berry from the Piper Nigrum plant. Black and white pepper are made from the same plant.
The un-ripened berries are used for the black pepper while the red, ripe ones are used for the white pepper. Along with the natural herb, pepper, many other herbs are used to create culinary masterpieces. Nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon are common varieties of herbs used in the kitchen.
Sage, oregano, and basil are three more. As more and more plants were discovered for their pungent flavor, people started making extraordinary dishes.

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What would a roast beef sandwich be without horseradish?
Try making a good breakfast sausage when there is no sage around. Herb bread would just be bread if it were not for the flavorful little buggers.
One of the most beneficial attributes is that herbs have no calories, have no fatty acids, no cholesterol, and generally no bad things at all.
They just have a unique taste that wakes the taste buds in all of us. When using herbs in cooking, it is important to remember a little goes a long way. Too much can actually distract you from the natural flavor of the food. The entire concept of using herbs is to highlight the natural flavors.
Too much can overpower the food and result in a ruined meal. There is even an herb which adds the sweetness of sugar without all the calories. This is an herb called STEVIA.

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Although this herb cannot be sold as a sweetener for foods, it can be used in place of sugar. One leaf has enough sweetener in it to sweeten a glass of lemonade. You can use this herb in sauces or salad dressings instead of sugar to cut down on the calories.
Many of the meat marinades on the market get their flavoring from natural herbs. You can use dill with lemon for fish. Saffron in your rice is always a good choice. Putting rosemary on a pork roast or lamb results in a mouth watering treat.
With so many different herbs that this planet has, there is something for every dish you create. Having herbs in the kitchen is a wonderful experience for the novice cook to the master chef. With the right blend of herbs you can make meat rubs, soup and stew bases, or even a new flavor of coffee.



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