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  • Beyond Cilantro — 5 Culinary Herb Trends With each new year, the National Restaurant Association releases its predictions for top culinary trends.

    From a survey of nearly 1300 professional chefs comes a list of foods you can expect to feature prominently in the year ahead — on menus when dining out, in specialty food magazines, grocer shelves, and farmer's markets — and, with a little advanced planning, in your own offerings.

    Johnny's Product Manager for Herbs, Hillary Alger offers some suggestions for culinary herbs topping this year's list, to help keep you ahead on these emerging opportunities.

    Read More »
  • Shiso (Perilla frutescens) As versatile as it is beautiful, shiso is at its best when used fresh and given visual prominence.

    Red shiso is best known for coloring pickles and umeboshi. Green shiso is generally more tender and commonly served raw. Britton is the most vigorous of the three and the most striking, with bicolored leaves that are green on top with red undersides.


    Read More »
  • Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale) Papalo has a pungent flavor, and typically only a few leaves are needed to flavor a dish. If you're a lover of cilantro or arugula, you should try papalo.

    The germination rate of papalo seed is naturally low, but otherwise it's very easy to grow and thrives during hot summer weather, when cilantro will tend to bolt or burn up in the heat.


    Read More »
  • Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) Epazote is used in traditional Mexican cuisine. It has a very strong flavor and should be used sparingly to flavor soups, beans, salads, and other savory dishes. The flavor is distinct; though sometimes described as having a petroleum-like aroma, epazote combines beautifully with hardy foods such as beans, cheese, and eggs, and is well worth a try.

    Epazote is very easy to grow and self-seeds readily. Snip flowering parts of the plant before they set seed if concerned about weed issues.


    Read More »
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Similar to mint in many ways, lemon balm's leaves are tender, aromatic, and refreshing.

    Traditionally and most commonly used in teas and for its medicinal properties, lemon balm is being increasingly appreciated as a trendy, fresh culinary herb. Tip: For a zesty twist on the mojito, use lemon balm in place of, or in addition to mint.

    Lemon balm has a fondness for spreading around in the garden. Snip the flowering parts of this easy-to-grow perennial before they set seed, if concerned about weed issues.


    Read More »
  • Chervil Tender and mild, garden chervil is a parsley-like herb that is an ideal fresh addition to savory dishes and salads.

    Most commonly used in French cuisine, chervil is one of the main herbs traditionally included in fines herbes, a staple of classic French cooking.

    Chervil is relatively easy to grow but prefers cool, moist growing conditions. We've had very good success growing chervil in containers, where moisture levels can easily be monitored and the plants can be moved into a bit of shade on very hot days.


    Read More »
Beyond Cilantro: 5 out-of-the-ordinary herbs to grow this year
by Hillary Alger, Product Manager for Herbs
Hillary Alger
Herb Product Manager, Hillary Alger

Though often difficult to find, these five culinary herbs are making a place for themselves with innovative chefs and in ethnic and specialty food stores.

We encourage you to grow your own for a new culinary experience or to supply local specialty markets and restaurants in your area.
Shiso (Perilla frutescens)

As versatile as it is beautiful, shiso is commonly used in many types of Asian cuisine. Shiso is at its best when used fresh (not cooked) and given a place of visual prominence on the plate. There are several types of shiso: Red shiso is best known for coloring pickles and umeboshi. Green shiso is generally more tender, and is commonly served raw. Britton is the most vigorous of the three and the most striking, with bicolored leaves that are green on top with red undersides. We also offer Asia Ip, a variant with flat, Britton-type leaves that are pink on the undersides.

In addition to its traditional uses as a culinary herb, shiso can be grown for use as a micro green, cut-flower foliage, or a garden ornamental. Plants are highly productive, and easy to grow from seed to a full size or the micro green stage.

Flavor – Minty, basil-like; hints of cumin, clove, citrus.
Use – Leaves and flowers are both edible. Shiso is best used fresh, as the flavor is delicate and refreshing. Use whole leaves or slice thinly to flavor savory dishes and green salads, and to flavor and color pickles. Use as a garnish or an ingredient for maki, sushi, and spring rolls. Can also be grown as micro green; we recommend 'Britton' for its vigor as well as good flavor.
Culinary pairings – Fish, shellfish, chicken, tofu, rice, noodles, cucumber, eggplant, pickles, teriyaki sauce, tamari, ginger, lemon, wasabi.
About – Native to Asia. Used in Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Chinese cuisines.

Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale)

Papalo has a pungent flavor, and typically only a few leaves are needed to flavor a dish. If you're a lover of cilantro or arugula, you should try papalo.

The germination rate of papalo seed is naturally low, but otherwise it's very easy to grow and thrives during hot summer weather, when cilantro will tend to bolt or burn up in the heat.

Remember, a little goes a long way, so if you've never tried papalo start small and enjoy.

Flavor – Pungent arugula/cilantro-like, with hints of mint and citrus.
Use – Chop and use raw. Add to any dish well suited to cilantro: tacos, salsa, soups, guacamole, salads, chilies.
Culinary pairings
– Beef, pork, seafood, cheese, rice, beans, avocado, chili peppers, tomato, tomatillos, cilantro, oregano, lemon, lime, garlic.
About
– Grows wild in Mexico and South America, where it is commonly used. While still hard to find, papalo is becoming popular in the U.S. in specialty and ethnic markets.

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides)

Epazote is used in traditional Mexican cuisine. It has a very strong flavor and should be used sparingly to flavor soups, beans, salads, and other savory dishes. The flavor is very distinct; though sometimes described as having a petroleum-like aroma, epazote combines beautifully with hardy foods such as beans, cheese, and eggs, and is well worth a try.

Epazote is very easy to grow and self-seeds readily. Snip flowering parts of the plant before they set seed if concerned about weed issues.

FlavorTarragon/cilantro-like, with hints of mint and citrus.
Culinary pairings – Beef, pork, eggs, cheese, rice, beans, avocado, potato, chili peppers, tomato, tomatillos, cilantro, lemon, lime, garlic.
Use — Add small amounts of fresh chopped leaves to flavor dishes after cooking or near the end of cooking time to preserve fresh flavor.
About – Native to Southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Toxic if consumed in large amounts.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Balm is quite similar to mint in many ways. Its leaves are tender, aromatic, and refreshing. Traditionally and most commonly used in tea and for its medicinal properties, lemon balm is increasingly appreciated as a trendy, fresh culinary herb.

Tip: For a zesty twist on the mojito, use lemon balm in place of, or in addition to mint.

Lemon balm has a fondness for spreading around in the garden. Snip the flowering parts of this easy-to-grow perennial plant before they set seed, if concerned about weed issues.

Flavor – Lemon and mint.
Use – Savory dishes, soups, tabouli/tabbouleh salad, green salads, fruit salads, desserts, ices and ice cream, cookies and cakes, summer cocktails, tea (hot or cold), any recipe that calls for lemon zest and/or mint. Add moderate amounts of fresh chopped leaves to flavor dishes. Best if added after cooking or near the end of cooking time to preserve flavor.
Culinary pairings – Fish, seafood, chicken, noodles, rice, cream, fruit, aromatic herbs and vegetables, mint, ginger, garlic, honey.
About – Native to Europe and Mediterranean regions. Tolerates heat and drought.

Chervil

Tender and mild, garden chervil is a parsley-like herb that is an ideal fresh addition to savory dishes and salads. Most commonly used in French cuisine, chervil is one of the main herbs traditionally included in fines herbes, a classic staple of French cooking.

Chervil is relatively easy to grow but prefers cool, moist growing conditions. We've had very good success growing chervil in containers, where moisture levels can easily be monitored and the plants can be moved into a bit of shade on very hot days.

Flavor – Refreshing, mild anise/licorice, tarragon.
Culinary pairings – Poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, potato, tomato, asparagus, carrots, peas, butter, lemon, French tarragon, chives, garlic.
Use – Soups, salads, sauces, omelets, and other savory dishes. Leaves can be used at full maturity, or as a baby salad green or micro green. Add small, freshly cut or chopped leaves to flavor dishes. Best if added after cooking or near the end of cooking time, to preserve the delicate flavor. Flowers are also edible and useful as flavorful garnish.
About – Native to the Caucasus but has spread through most of Europe, where it is now naturalized.

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