Do you Know your Culinary Herbs? Herb Identification Chart + Benefits

Do you know your culinary herbs by sight? How about their health benefits for both you and your chickens?  Here are a few varieties of herbs that I grow in my herb garden and the wonderful goodness of each.

I grow both Lime Basil and Sweet Italian Basil.  Basil has antibacterial properties and enhances mucus membrane health.  All types of basil work as a fly deterrent as well. 

Basil makes delicious pesto when combined with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts and is also wonderful when paired with fresh mozzarella cheese and home grown tomatoes with some balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, or assembled between two sliced of Italian bread as a grilled cheese sandwich.

Oregano and Marjoram closely resemble each other - and for good reason. They are 'cousins' and in fact oregano is often called 'wild marjoram'. Oregano works to strengthen the immune system and is thought to battle E.coli, salmonello, infectious bronchitis and coccidiosis, while marjoram is a laying stimulant and detoxifier with anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. 

Oregano is of course an important ingredient in spaghetti sauce and works well sprinkled on pizza. Marjoram, while not as commonly using in cooking, can be substituted any time a recipe calls for oregano and is often paired with mushrooms and eggs in dishes.

The mint family often gets a bad rap for taking over any area in which is it planted but mint has many benefits including working as a natural insect and rodent repellent.  Mint also helps to naturally cool the body, so brews up in to delicious iced herbal tea or freezes into cooling ice cube treats for the chickens.

I grow three varieties of mint: spearmint, orange mint and chocolate mint, as well as lemon balm and bee balm which are also both part of the mint family.  I use fresh mint leaves as garnishes on cheesecake, cupcakes and cakes. Paired with edible flowers or berries, they make beautiful edible garnishes.

Parsley works as a laying stimulant for chickens and also aids in blood vessel development. Parsley is extremely high in vitamins. Commonly used as an edible garnish on a plate, or sprinkled into a pasta or meat dish for a dash of color, I grow both the curly and flat flat varieties.

Common Sage and Pineapple Sage couldn't be more different in appearance, scent or taste.  Pineapple sage has a bright green veined leaf and sports vibrant red flowers. Smelling and tasting like pineapple, the leaves brew into excellent iced tea.  Conventional sage has a sort of soft leaf and bluish-purple flowers and is often paired with roasted chicken.

As for health benefits, Pineapple Sage aids in nervous system development while Common Sage is an antioxidant and anti-parasitic in addition to boosting overall health and thought to help combat salmonella.

Tarragon, Rosemary and Lavender are three more herbs that I grow in our herb garden.  Tarragon pairs wonderfully with eggs and I often add the fresh leaves to scrambled eggs, while  Rosemary is often used when roasting meats and poultry. Highly aromatic lavender is wonderful baked into breads, cookies and cupcakes and can be used a a stress reliever and sleep aid.

Tarragon is an antioxidant, Rosemary helps with pain relief and aids in respiratory health as well as acts as a natural insecticide. Lavender works double duty - increasing blood circulation while working as a natural insect repellent.

Thyme and Dill are two herbs I grow that I use most frequently in cooking. Thyme is often an ingredient in soups, sauces and marinades, as well as stuffing that I make. Thyme pairs well with eggs, which also often make an appearance at our table.  Being of Scandinavian descent, I am very partial to dill and add it to egg, potato and shrimp salads, omelets, salmon dishes and more.

Health benefits of thyme include aiding in respiratory health, and working as an antibacterial, antioxidant and  anti-parasitic. Dill is an antioxidant and relaxant that also aids in respiratory health.

Do you grow any herbs? What is your favorite to grow? How about to cook with? I would love to hear from you!

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