There are hundreds of culinary herbs with flavors that range from earthy to spicy to citrusy to sweet. You probably have your favorite fresh herbs that you plant each year but it’s always fun to save a few spots in your herb garden for something new. You may even be fortunate enough to stumble upon some tasty gems as you’re shopping for your tried and true edibles.
Here are 9 unique fresh herbs that are fun to experiment with:
1. Rose Geranium
It’s the aroma of a rose bouquet that lends a light floral fragrance to desserts, cocktails, and teas. I’m experimenting with its benefit to savory fare so stay tuned for more on that.
2. Orange Citrus Mint
Its beautiful citrus scent is kind of like an earthy orange zest. It compliments French toast, pork burgers, and vegetable stir fries.
3. Lime Mint
A zesty cross between a lime and traditional mint. It’s a wonderful addition to Coconut Lime Beef Salad found in my Salads For 1 cookbook. The lime diminishes the mint and it gives a delicious citrus accent to grilled shrimp marinades and chicken fajitas.
4. Apple Mint
A unique combination of Granny Smith apple and mint. Try this with lamb instead of regular mint. It’s also amazing in oatmeal cookies and apple scones.
5. Chocolate Mint
Imagine peeling open the wrapper of a peppermint patty. It’s such a fresh and exhilarating aroma. Blend the tender leaves into hot chocolate, chocolate pound cake, and cocktails.
6. Pineapple Sage
A gentle stroke of the leaves creates a tropical scent of fresh pineapple that adds an island flair to cocktails. Marinate meat with this herb when you want a citrus fragrance rather than the pungent earthy taste of its cousin, traditional sage.
7. African Blue Basil
This is a smokey savory herb that I didn’t find much culinary use for. But the bees love it and its beautiful blooms are a gorgeous accent to my herb garden.
8. Cinnamon Basil
I usually plant at least 5 varieties of basil. Each one has a unique flavor profile but they are also interchangeable. This one does have hints of spice that makes it fantastic with fruit sauces, dips, and spreads. It’s also scrumptious blended into strawberries for shortcake or strawberry shortbread bars.
9. Cuban Oregano
Not easy to find but worth the search. Earthy, floral, sharp, and tangy like turpentine, these juicy, thick, suede, velvety leaves make an amazing simple syrup for cocktails, along with fresh fruit like peaches. Pork tenderloin, pizza, and green beans get an extra kick of flavor from oregano as well.
It’s not too late to find fresh herbs at your local garden centers and nurseries. So head out and hunt for at least one new exciting culinary herb to play with in your kitchen this year.
Jennifer Darden, owner of The Queens Empire, is an artist, author, and food, flavor, and alcohol pairing connoisseur. For tasty recipes with fresh ingredients, original ideas on food and flavor pairings, color photographs, and all of my cookbooks please visit http://www.tipsyculinaryqueen.com
You can also connect with me at http://www.pinterest.com/thequeensempire