Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or only enjoy cooking for special occasions, you probably feel challenged to make something new and exciting from time to time. Upgrading your meals doesn’t have to be intimidating or complicated. Integrating something as simple as new herbs could completely change the way you think about cooking. Our in-house selection of unique dried herbs will allow you to update your meals without overhauling your kitchen. Below, six special herbs that will take your favorite recipes to the next level.
What Is It: Lemon balm is a perennial herb within the mint family. Also called bee balm or melissa balm, this herb is native to the Mediterranean, North Africa, Asia, and Europe. It dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times and has a variety of uses outside of cooking. It’s been used to relieve digestive problems and also has a calming effect. Some say that it helps to alleviate anxiety when used as an aromatherapy oil.
How It’s Used: There are a variety of culinary uses for this herb. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s typically used to make teas or tinctures, season chicken or fish, or to flavor baked goods and jams. You can also use lemon balm to make pesto, create an infusion that you add to honey or other sweeteners, or add it to drinks like homemade lemonade.
What Is It: Summer savory is an herb that’s often thought of as a hybrid between thyme, mint, and marjoram. It’s used to season meats, vegetables, and sauces and originates from Northwest America. You may have tried it without even realizing it since it complements a variety of dishes. It has a peppery flavor, similar to thyme.
How It’s Used: You can use summer savory in so many different ways. Since it’s so similar to thyme and marjoram, it can be used in place of those herbs for a more intense flavor.
What Is It: If you’re interested in aromatherapy, you’ve probably used lavender plenty of times before. If you’re new to cooking with lavender, it’s best to use a light hand to avoid a potential overpowering and soap-like flavor. This herb is native to Africa and the Mediterranean mountains, and like lemon balm, it has lots of health uses in addition to being a cooking herb. It’s a natural antiseptic and anxiety reliever.
How It’s Used: Lavender can be used as a substitute for rosemary in bread recipes. It can also be used in savory sauces or as a garnish in desserts. You can also use lavender to create an infusion for cocktails or other drinks.
What Is It: There is often very little middle ground when it comes to public opinions on licorice. People either love it or hate it. Most commonly associated with being used to flavor candy, this polarizing, bittersweet herb is often compared to fennel and anise. It comes from Europe and Asia and has been historically used as both a respiratory and digestive health aid.
How It’s Used: Licorice root is most commonly used to make teas, but you can also incorporate it into desserts or stews. It can also be used to season meat.
What Is It: Although they aren’t quite an herb, the beauty and uniqueness of edible flowers keep red roses on this list. In food presentations, red roses are usually used as a decorative garnish on wedding cakes or alongside other desserts, but you can actually eat them. Roses are closely related to some of your favorite fruits, including apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, and pears.
How It’s Used: There are plenty of beauty-related uses for roses like creating ointments, body sprays, toning rose waters, but, you can also add rose petals or rose hips to salads, use them to make aromatic ice cream or create rose-infused drinks like lattes or cocktails.
What Is It: Sweet marjoram is thought of as a sort of mild oregano. It will probably be one of the easier herbs to integrate into your current collection of herbs and spices. Sweet marjoram has been used in traditional medicine to treat everything from gastrointestinal disorders to respiratory issues. These days, this Mediterranean herb is commonly found in Italian seasoning blends.
How It’s Used: Sweet marjoram is commonly found in stuffing but can be used to season poultry, added to salad dressings, or can be used to make herb butter.