If you talk to a person who is relying on natural products for various problems in health, you will feel as if you are living on a different planet. There is so much around us but we need an eye to see it. There are tons of thousands of species of herbs with different healthy ingredients that we gather from medicines.
Herbs are the leaf parts of the plant. They can be used in cooking as fresh or in a dry form. While herbs are always a favorite in adding flavors to food and dishes, they can be great for health purposes. They can be sweet or savory. You can drink them or have them as an addition to a meal. They are without fat, sugar, or salts. Every herb has its health-promoting factors.
Herbs are usually ones having delicate flavors. If you add them to any meal or drink, you should do it in the last few minutes to get the best aromatic taste or flavor.
Did you know that you can use herbs to make different types of vinegar at home? We will tell you all about this in the article. But before that, let us know more about herbs and how to use them.
Health benefits of herbs
Many herbs have different properties. Even the poisonous ones are essential in some form to our body. Consuming them on regular basis helps a lot in maintaining a good healthy routine. While there are many benefits, we shall discuss some general ones here.
Herbs are great for improving our healthy heart. They also play an important role in the treatment of high-risk diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Many herbs prevent the formation of clots in our bodies, leading to a good blood flow and a healthy heart. The herbs also offer various anti-inflammatory as well as anti-cancer properties.
Some best herb combinations
Various researches have shown that linseed, fenugreek, lemongrass and garlic together can help lower down your blood cholesterol level. The combination of garlic can help control blood pressure to some extent. When you combine fenugreek with other herbs, you can prepare a solution that will help prevent blood sugar. Fenugreek can also control your insulin activity. Some other herbs can do this such as linseed oil, cinnamon and flaxseed.
Another brilliant category of herbs include onions, chives, mint, basil, oregano, sage and leeks. These are great in acting as anti-cancer agents. They naturally treat tumors and are perfectly given in combination with other drugs. Fenugreek can help improve the condition of your hair texture. miraculous herb that is also beneficial for your skin, no wonder that fenugreek is an active ingredient in many herbal cosmetic products. Useful in weight loss.
Almost all herbs are rich in antioxidants. Herbs like cloves; sage, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon and oregano help us by reducing low-density lipoproteins present in our body. This is what we also call the bad cholesterol in our bodies.
Herbs and cooking
If you walk about the use of herbs in cooking, the sky is the limit. There is millions of combination and you can use your kitchen combinations. For the most part, you can use the herbs in cooking with soups, bread, salads, mustards, stews, marinades, cocktails, casseroles, sauces, pickets, desserts, drinks, yogurt, vinegar and vinaigrettes.
Remember that you have the flexibility of when to add the herbs. You don’t need to add them while cooking always. You can add them as the final note after taking the dish out of the heat. Some people even add them before serving as a beautiful green garnish. The visual appearance of herbs surpasses their flavors sometimes. Also, the fragrance of the fresh herbs needs no introduction. For instance, you can use basil leaves as a garnish in the spaghetti or add sage leaves in a chicken dish to enhance the look.
Some great herbs and food combinations
While there are a million ways to combine herbs and food, some more essential ones are as follows:
- Bay leaves can be mixed with poultry, stocks, soups, casseroles and stews.
- The common Indian herb basil goes very well with many dishes. These included tomato soup, potato dishes, chicken, rice, egg, strawberries, meat, prawns, tomato juice, pesto, beverages, etc.
- Chili in fresh and dry form is good with chicken, meat, poultry, curries, shellfish and poultry
- Garlic is good with sauces, meat, shellfish, bread, sauces, pasta and salad dressings
- Ginger is well suited for Asian dishes and biscuits or cakes.
- Coriander is another perfect for Asian dishes. It also goes well with curries, salads, guacamole, soups and stirs fries.
- Fennel is good for beverages, seafood, salads, stuffing, etc.
- Chives are popular with cheese dishes. It also compliments vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, chicken, salads and soups.
- Lemongrass combines well with stir-fries, seafood, soups, tea and a variety of Asian dishes
- Marjoram can be used with pizza, cheese dishes, egg preparations, fish and meat
The list is just the tip of the iceberg. The more herbs you learn about, you will realize more of their importance in food. Always remember that if you wish for good health, save things like creams and butter for occasions. These are best not taken daily.
Vinegar and herb cooking
Vinegar made out of herbs is mostly used in cooking also. But if you are planning to cook with herbs, you need to take care of few essential things. Here are few tips to help you out
- Fresh herbs are mild in flavor while dry ones are very strong. If you follow the general rule, a teaspoon of the dry herb will be equal to four teaspoons of the fresh herb. Hence, judge your measurements accordingly.
- If you have a knack for using herbs on regular basis, a good idea is to create something unique called ‘bouquet Garni. This is done by tying the mixed and chopped herbs in muslin bags and then adding them to flavor your dishes. Make sure that you remove the bags before serving. This method helps to infuse more than one herb and sometimes restrict the flavors while also adding it slowly at the same time.
- Not all herbs are strong and easy to mix in the preparations. Some are harder. Rosemary and parsley are a fine example. These retain their flavor during cooking. To make sure you get the most of these, add them to your cooking at the start of the recipe so that they get enough heat for mixing up nicely.
- Not all herbs are easily eaten. For instance, Bay leaves are not eaten but only used to add flavors.
- Dry herbs in which the leaves are present and stuck o the stalk have stronger flavors. This is true when you compare to those sold on loose leaves in packets.
Preparing herbal vinegar
When you want to prepare herbal vinegar, you are really in for an herbal treatment. The easy-to-make recipes will delight you and you can use them for many days. You will get almost everything from the kitchen only; hence availability is not an issue. Herbal vinegar is not only useful; they also make a good gifting item for someone who loves herbs.
Let’s start with the items you will need:
- Cheesecloth for straining
- Clean glass jars bottles. It’s better to sterilize them before use. You will need a couple of jars for each bottle. Try buying fancy bottles and that will up the game to a whole new level.
- A pouring funnel
- Glass jar corks or lids
Make sure that you avoid using any metal pieces containing vinegar. This is because metals can rust and deteriorate the vinegar constituents. You may use wax paper if you are using metal coverings.
The ingredients you will need are as follow:
- Vinegar – try taking vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity. You may also go with one that tastes with what you like and what you use on regular basis. You should also take vinegar that is compatible with the herbs you are going to use. Strong vinegar might overpower the flavors of your herbs which will be a bad decision so choose wisely. Some of the ideal vinegar types included:
- Champagne vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
- Distilled vinegar
- Malt vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- After choosing vinegar, it’s time to choose your herbs. This is an important part of the process. You may wash the herbs mildly after harvesting them if you are using fresh herbs. You can also dry them for the process. When you use dry herbs or spices, try avoiding the use of powders. This will cloud the vinegar solution. For instance, marjoram powder is a bad decision. You can go for whole leaves or sticks, such as in the case of cloves for the recipe.
- Some of the best choices for herbal vinegar include
- Cumin seeds
- Juniper berries
- Mustard seed
- Coriander seeds
- Bay leaves
Method of preparation and tips
You should try using half a cup of dried leaves. When taking fresh ones, use one cup of the content. To this add two cups often vinegar. Note that you can always dilute your vinegar in the end so you don’t have to worry about putting in too many herbs.
The best pleasure of making herbal vinegar is the experiment you do with herb combinations. You can follow some of the following combinations for best results:
- Fennel along with thyme going well in rice vinegar
- Lemon balm coupled with lemon verbena and lemongrass in champagne vinegar
- Tarragon as well as garlic in white wine vinegar
- Mustard seeds and chives in malt vinegar
- Dill weed along with dried red peppers preparation with red wine vinegar
- Cedar vinegar with lavender
Another advantage here is that you may even add a few fruits to the preparation. You can choose from subtle nature wonders such as strawberries, pears, pineapple, raspberries and even apples. You can take half a cup for each fruit you wish to add.
Many people use different ways, methods and directions to prepare the herbal vinegar to get the best results. You should devise out your own and if you can’t, you may just follow our general recipe. Mind that many cooking preparations require heating the vinegar first. Many people suggest not doing it as it might decrease the acid effect while promoting cloudiness.
Many people even steep the herbs in the vinegar for one day to get the best out of the proportions. Some even go beyond the ordinary and steep the herbs for as much as one month.
The method of preparation is as follow:
Take a jar or a bottle and add your selective herbs or spruces or fruits to it. Cover the herbs totally with room-temperature vinegar. Use the lid and close the jar. Keep it in a cool dark place. Every day, shake the jar once or twice to let the ingredients mix nicely. Keep an eye on the mixing intensity. After a week or so, check the vinegar. You can do this by simply tasting it. Store it until you find that it is up to mark or fills your desire.
When the vinegar shows satisfactory results, strain the solution through a cheesecloth. Pour it into another clean jar and seal it with cork or cap it tightly. Label and it is ready to use.
When it comes to storage, you can always choose from a couple of options. You can either refrigerate the herbal vinegar for a couple of weeks or you can keep them in a dry storage area which is a bit cooler for a year. Experiment as you go along the way.
At last, we shall describe the ways to use herbal vinegar. They can be used at any time or place and in anything you feel appropriate. They are better for salad dressings, sushi, pies, marinades, sauces, etc. you can add few drops to bean soups, add it in your pickle preparations, pour it over the meat before preparing it, or add in barbecue sauces. The tangy and acidic flavors always delight you when using in various dishes. Some people even use it in condiment spices or as a sandwich spread.
Herbal vinegar is also very popular as a sea salt and vinegar chips recipe. You can alternate it for lemon or lime juice choices.
Besides, food, you can also use herbal vinegar in stoping graying of hairs, for ski toning, face cleansers, foot soaks and even for bath solutions. Some people suggest it for defoliating your skin. Fresh herbal vinegar can also be used in laundry to get a hint of good freshness.