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Last Updated on May 14, 2018 by Diane Hoffmaster
One of the things I hate buying at the grocery store is fresh herbs. They charge you a ridiculous price for a tiny little bundle and they often go bad before I use the whole bunch. I decided many years ago that I would start growing my own herbs in the back yard to help save a few pennies and broaden the flavor profile of my food. I have had good luck with some and horrible luck with others. I have more oregano this year than an entire city in Italy would be able to use but my lavender died for the second year in a row. A backyard herb garden is a bit of trial and error! There are a number of recipes for fresh herbs on the internet. You can make your own vinaigrette or throw a handful of parsley on top of your next meal. However, if you are looking for uses for fresh herbs besides cooking dinner with them, you have come to the right place. Some of the best uses for fresh herbs include things that don't involve cooking at all. Here are just a few creative uses for fresh herbs that I have tried over the last few years.
Fresh herbs are full of flavor. One of my favorite uses for fresh herbs is to impart that flavor into things like vinegar, vodka, or olive oil. You will want to use fresh herbs that you pick first thing in the morning so the flavor is the freshest. Infusing the flavor of fresh herbs into a liquid takes a few weeks. Make sure your container is sterile, your herbs are washed, and you let it sit in a cool, dry location for a few weeks to 'incubate'. Use within 6 months for the freshest flavor. Be careful with infusing fresh herbs into oil. Bacteria CAN grow so make sure you do some research about which herbs to use and the best techniques. Try my tarragon vinegar recipe for a delicious addition to your next homemade salad dressing recipe.
Use them in beauty products:
Salt scrubs, sugar scrubs, and herbal steam treatments are all amazingly good for your skin. Add herbs in your homemade beauty products to add not only a nice aroma but also skincare benefits as well. My lemon rosemary salt scrub is a favorite for getting hands clean after a day in the garden!
Make herb flavored salts:
Flavored salts are extremely popular nowadays and they aren't cheap. There is no reason to buy a premade flavored salt when you can easily make it at home. Combine a healthy salt like sea salt or Himalayan salts with fresh herbs and place on a cookie sheet. Bake low and slow for an hour or so until the herbs are dry. Mix occasionally as needed. You can add citrus zest to give them an added boost of flavor. Try lemon and thyme infused sea salt if you have a lot of thyme in your backyard herb garden!
Take advantage of their medicinal uses:
Many fresh herbs have a number of medicinal benefits. You can dry lavender and put it in a sachet under your pillow for better sleep. You can use lemon balm to help naturally repel mosquitoes. Mint is wonderful at clearing stuffed nasal passages. Do some research into the medicinal uses of fresh herbs and plant what is most useful for you. Place dried or fresh herbs in a bathtub tea bag for a soothing and medicinal bath experience.
Think outside the box:
When you look at fresh herbs you might see 'food' but you can use them as drink stirrers, decorations on a gift, fire starters, and homemade cleaning products. The uses for fresh herbs are endless, especially when you grow them in the back yard and have an abundant supply.
Do you have any other uses for fresh herbs you would like to share?
Dry your fresh Italian herbs and make
homemade Italian Seasoning with them!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.