Richters InfoSheet D9006  

Common Culinary Herbs and Their Uses

Culture Uses Characteristics Harvest
Pimpinella anisum
. . .
seed; use fresh seed; likes sun; space 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) apart green leaves and seeds in salads; meats; bakery goods; tastes somewhat like licorice annual; slow-growing; whitish flowers in flat clusters; finely cut lobed leaves; 60 cm (2 feet) tall use leaves fresh; harvest seeds when ripe, dry, remove from stems and store
BASIL, Sweet
Ocimum basilicum
. . .
seed; sow after ground is warm in spring; plant late; needs water and warmth, sun and shelter; 30 cm (12 inches) apart; pinch out tops of branches to prevent bloom -- this produces more leaves border plant for garden, or in pots for patios; chopped leaves fresh or dry have clove-like flavour and taste; seasoning for vegetables and meat annual; deep-green leaves; white blooms; many varieties available including small leaf (bush) and purple types; 30-90 cm (12-36 inches) high cut stalks back to 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) anytime in the growing season; can be frozen; strip leaves from stems and screen dry
Laurus nobilis
. . .
seed or stem cuttings (slow and difficult to establish); best to buy established plants; full or diffused sun; grow in containers; well-draining, rich soil; space 30-90 cm (1-3 feet) depending on size fresh or dried leaves in soups, stews, fines herbes blends tree or shrub; tender perennial; deep green, shiny, leathery leaves; grows up to 6 m (20 feet) in southern climates; can be keep small and bushy at under 1 m (3 feet) pick mature leaves; use fresh or screen dry; store whole
Borago officinalis
. . .
seed; sow early spring; will self-sow; needs dry, sunny place; space 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) apart young leaves have cucumber flavour; use them in salads and cold soups; use fresh leaves in eggs; fresh flowers in fruit drinks and candied for dessert garnish bushy plant; coarse leaves; annual; grows 60-90 cm (2-3 feet) high; blue flowers pick blossoms as they open; pick leaves fresh
Poterium sanguisorba
. . .
seed; full sun; dry, sandy soil; space 30 cm (12 inches) apart fresh leaves have mild cucumber flavour; for salads, soups, dressings, spreads and vinegars hardy perennial; 45 cm (18 inches) high pick leaves as needed; remove flower stalks as they appear
Carum carvi
. . .
seed; sow spring or fall; full sun, light soil; seeds produced second year; space 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) apart seeds used to flavour bread, pastry, meat, soups, sauces, confections biennial; feathery foliage; creamy flowers; resembles carrot; 60 cm (2 feet) tall dry seed heads; harvest seeds in autumn of second year
Anthriscus cerefolium
. . .
seed; sow spring or fall; partial shade; rich organic soil; 45 cm (18 inches) apart leaves fresh or dried used as garnish for fish, in soups, omelettes; mix with salad greens annual; goes to seed in June; leaves are parsley-like, ferny; 30-60 cm (12-24 inches) high leaves best used fresh; freezing is the best way to preserve
Allium schoenoprasum
. . .
division or seed; rich, moist soil; plant same as onions; divide clumps and pot for indoor use during winter clumps and blooms decorative in gardens; leaves used fresh or dried in salads and as seasonings; has onion flavour perennial; can be used the first season; resembles fine-leaved onions; grows in clumps; violet edible flowers leaves best used fresh; holds flavour better frozen than dried; for drying cut into small pieces and screen dry
CORIANDER (Cilantro)
Coriandrum sativum
. . .
seed; start in spring; do not transplant; for cilantro leaf production, repeat sowings; space 10 cm (4 inches) apart; full sun, light soil seeds for spices in baking, dressings; tastes and smells like orange leaves in stuffings, curries; fresh leaves essential in Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes, and in Mexican salsas annual; grows 60 cm (2 feet) tall harvest seeds when and before shattering; flavour develops upon drying; leaves harvested before flowering, used fresh as cilantro
Anethum graveolens
. . .
seed; repeat sowings for summer long supply; sow early; needs rich soil; space 25 cm (10 inches) apart leaves for salads; fresh leaves and seed stalks for dill pickles; after drying use to season meats, fish, vegetables annual; 60-90 cm (2-3 feet) tall; feathery foliage; rampant grower leaves are best just as flowers open; harvest seeds as soon as ripe, cut off whole plant and hang to dry
Foeniculum vulgare
. . .
seed; best sown directly in garden; full sun; rich soil; space 45 cm (18 inches) apart all parts of leaves, stems and seeds aromatic; used for fish seasonings and sauces; ornamental background plants for garden annual; tall, rampant, branching; thread-like foliage to 1 m (3 feet) flower stalks harvested just before bloom; can be eaten like celery; leaves best fresh; dried seeds good for teas
Allium sativum
. . .
cloves planted early spring or fall; grows in any good garden soil; full sun; plant cloves 15 cm (6 inches) apart and 5 cm (2 inches) deep chopped cloves season meats, vegetable sauces; garlic salt obtained from pulverized dried cloves flat, onion-like leaves to 60 cm (2 feet); prune flower stalk to increase yield; fall planting produces bigger cloves dig bulbs, dry whole; store in cool dry area
Lavandula angustifolia
. . .
seeds or cuttings; sun and poor soil for fragrance; needs protection or take indoors if winters severe; space 60 cm (2 feet) apart fragrance; fresh and dried flowers; oil distilled from them; place dried flowers in small cloth bags for scenting closets; good border or hedge plants perennial; somewhat woody; 30-60 cm (12-24 inches); gray-green leaves; many varieties available cut and dry whole flower spikes when flowers begin to open; do not use excessive or prolonged heat when drying flowers since oils are very volatile
Levisticum officinale
. . .
seed or division; full or part sun; sandy, fertile soil; space 1 m (3 feet) apart leaves have strong celery flavour; for salads, soups, dried herb blends hardy perennial; one plant enough; deep green leaves; white flowers attract beneficial insects; grows up to 2 m (6 feet) pick leaves as needed; use fresh, freeze, or screen dry; to dry, mince leaves first
Origanum majorana
. . .
seed, cuttings, crown division; sow early inside or in coldframe; shade seedlings until established, then full sun; space 20-25 cm (8-10 inches); can be taken inside in winter as pot plant gray-green foliage ornamental for colour contrast; leaves used fresh or dried as seasoning for meat dishes; oil used in perfumes annual or tender perennial; velvety leaves; very fragrant; low-spreading and bushy to 30 cm (12 inches) high cut stalks before flowering; hang to dry in small bunches or screen dry
Spearmint Mentha spicata
Peppermint M. x piperita
Orange mint M. x piperita citrata
. . .
surface or underground rhizomes; thin beds and renew every 3-4 years; will grow in semi-shade; rich, moist soil; space 45 cm (18 inches) apart fragrance for scent; crushed leaves flavour tea, candies, mint sauce; oil from plant is source of menthol perennial; purple flowers; refreshing fragrance; spreads by surface runners; plant in tubs to keep roots restricted; up to 90 cm (3 feet) tall pick leaves individually from plants; can be used fresh or dried; harvest before flowering
Origanum vulgare
. . .
seeds or division; grows well in poor soil; does well in containers and as ground cover for banks; space 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) apart fresh or dried leaves as meat or vegetable seasoning; used in pizza perennial; soft, rounded leaves; grows in clumps 60 cm (2 feet) high cut stalks before flowering begins; hang to dry or dry on screens
Petroselinum crispum
. . .
seed; sow early inside, self sows; medium-rich soil; sun or part shade; best started in coldframes; space 15-20 cm (6-8 inches); start new plants each year decorative as an edging plant; rich in vitamins A and C; leaves best used fresh; seasoning for soup, meats, salads biennial; finely curled leaves; flowers second year; 20 cm (8 inches) high; compact plant; flat leaf varieties have strongest flavour best used fresh; both leaves and roots keep flavour when dried or frozen; first season of growth is best for use
Rosmarinus officinalis
. . .
stem cuttings; seed germinates slowly; overwinter in cool sunny spot in house; keep foliage misted; doesn’t like acid soil; needs full sun and wind shelter; space 1 m (3 feet) apart use ornamentally as specimen pot plant; use leaves fresh or dried as food seasoning, especially on poultry or lamb evergreen; narrow leaves; shrubby; not reliably hardy; leathery leaves have pungent spicy fragrance; reaches 1-2 m (3-6 feet) in southern climates cut leaves any time before flowering; don’t use excessive or prolonged heat when drying since oils are volatile; freezing is not recommended
SAGE, Garden
Salvia officinalis
. . .
seed, stem cuttings; cut back in spring for new foliage; needs well-drained soil; space 75 cm (30 inches) apart in sun leaves used dried or fresh as poultry dressing and stuffing, or as meat seasoning gray, shrubby, perennial; blue flowers; woody; sprawly habit; to 45 cm (18 inches) tall cut leaves throughout growing season; strip leaves, screen dry or hang in small bunches
SAVORY, Summer
Satureja hortensis
. . .
seed; sow 30-40 seeds per metre (10-12 seeds per foot); do not thin; medium-rich soil in sun; make several sowings 3 weeks apart; space 15 cm (6 inches) suitable as a border hedge 8 inches high; leaves used fresh or dried as seasoning in soups, egg dishes, sauces, especially with green beans annual; weak stems; mauve flowers; 40-45 cm (16-18 inches) high; leaves pungent and spicy cut stalks before flowering; hang to dry
SORREL, Garden
Rumex acetosa
. . .
seed or division; full sun; rich soil; space 45 cm (18 inches) apart tart, acid flavour; for soups, salads, sauces; rich in vitamin A and C heart-shaped succulent leaves; hardy perennial; cut off flower stalks to promote leaf growth; 30-60 cm (1-2 feet) tall young leaves best; use fresh only; cut back to 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) throughout growing season -- will regrow; freezes well
Artemisia dracunculus sativa
. . .
division of root crowns; need cold period each year (roots frozen) for continued growth; divide plants every 3 years; space 30 cm (12 inches) apart fresh or dried leaves in sauces and seafood; ingredients of tartar sauce; young leaves flavour vinegar, chicken dishes hardy perennial; doesn’t set seed; grows to 60 cm (2 feet); much branched; narrow, twisted leaves leaves are best used fresh; some flavour is lost on drying; can be frozen
Thymus vulgaris
. . .
stem cuttings, division; sow seed early; well-drained, fertile soil; full sun; space 25 cm (10 inches) apart; cut back each spring; mulch over winter fragrant ground cover for rock garden; fresh or dried leaves usually blended with other herbs perennial; shrubby, woody stems; low-growing, 15-20 cm (6-8 inches); leaves highly aromatic; can be potted and grown indoors in winter cut leafy tops before flowering; hang to dry or screen dry
Aloysia triphylla
(Lippia citriodora)
. . .
cuttings; tender woody shrub; take indoors in winter leaves for fragrance and to give lemon taste to beverages and jellies narrow, shiny leaves are lemon-scented; non-hardy perennial strip leaves individually from plant before blooms come out; dry on screens


Based on a fact sheet published by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. Updated by Cathy Avery.

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