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Fresh Herbs

What is an herb? And how does it differ from spices, which are often associated with herbs? From a botanical perspective and as per Merriam-Webster, an herb is “a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season.” This definition may prove too broad still for others, so the next definition narrows it down: “a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities.”

Herb is a subset of vegetables. The main role of vegetables is we eat them for their caloric and nutrient content. We use herbs to make the food we eat – including vegetable dishes – more flavorful. We do not eat herbs in the same quantities as we do eat vegetables. Herbs refer to the aromatic and flavorful leaves, while vegetables can be leaves, roots or bulbs, or any edible part of the plant. Spices perform the same function as herbs. They differ in the sense that herbs are leaves and spices are not just leaves but also roots, seeds, bark, or fruit.

Fresh herbs have played an important role in the survival and daily life of humans. Fresh herbs are food and seasoning. It is also medicine and perfume. It is used in rituals and religious practices. It is used as decoration or insect repellent. And today, fresh herbs are a multi-billion dollar global industry.

Fresh Herbs Trivia

  • In the US, basil is the most commonly used herb.
  • Monks are known to grow fresh herbs.
  • Fresh meadowsweet is strewn across the floor during the middle ages to make the room fragrant from the herb’s sweet smell.

Fresh Herbs Buying Guide

If the store or farmers market or grocery is near your place, buy fresh herbs enough for a day or two. Sure, you can refrigerate or freeze your fresh herbs, but if you don’t have to, why burden yourself with the extra task of preparing the fresh herbs for storage, making room on the refrigerator or freezer, and taking them out the next day or the day after that only to find the quality of the fresh herbs diminished?

Always inspect your fresh herbs. Check the leaves, the stalks, etc. Check for discoloration or unnatural odor / foul smell (this usually indicates something is wrong with the fresh herb). Even if fresh herbs sold in the frozen section of the supermarket are inside plastic containers or packs, the herbs usually are visible and you can still inspect the herbs.

Buy from local growers and support small businesses/farms. What they produce is as fresh as it gets. Most of them are growing organically without the use of pesticides or herbicides. This also means you are eating food that did not undergo commercial food processing, which is good for your health.  

Fresh Herbs Production & Farming in Texas

Many herbs are found and grown in Texas. Among the herbs that are commonly found and grown in Texas are basil, chives, mint, parsley, rosemary, and sweet marjoram. Texas gardening regions fall under USDA Hardiness Zone 6 to 9B. This means that there is a very high probability that herbs that grow in USDA Hardiness Zone 6 through 9B are grown in Texas, either for commercial selling (large scale or small scale) or for personal use. While there is no singular approach in growing herbs applicable to all kinds, growing them is a process that usually follows similar general guidelines, like well-draining soil, adequate sunlight, and signs and symptoms of pests and diseases.


Growers involved in commercial mass-production of herbs are often involved in the use of pesticides because of the many different pests like aphids, spider mites, and many more (and diseases) that threaten the plants. Even if they survive, without pesticides many of the plants may not be up to standard and unfit to be processed and sold. Upside: the practice of spraying/using pesticides is regulated through the existing federal and national laws in effect in Texas.

This is where local, small, community organic farmers have an advantage since many of them practice organic, pesticide-free growing of herbs. If you are buying fresh herbs, it is ideal to inquire whether or not these were grown using pesticides for your health and safety.


There are fresh herbs in most (if not all) parts of the world. What fresh herb is available here depends on (1) what plants can grow here and (2) what herbs are being imported here. Today, the importation of fresh herbs is an important industry that links different countries and different regions of the world. And because of advances in botany and agriculture, many herbs are not exclusive to a country or region anymore, having been introduced to a new location where there is potential for growth and cultivation.

Here are some of the popular herbs in a particular country or region: marjoram and coriander are the two most popular herbs in the Caribbean, while in France, it is basil that takes the top spot of the most-used herb. England likes parsley (so does Midwest US), thyme, and rosemary, while it is oregano for the Greeks and the Mediterranean. The top herb in Middle East, North Africa, and Iran specifically is parsley, while in Morocco and Pakistan, it is coriander. North East Africa’s top herb is mint.  


Freshly-cut and freshly-packaged herbs are sold in the market or the produce section of the grocery in a sealed transparent clamshell plastic container. It allows you to see the condition of the leaves inside. If you wish to grow your own supply of fresh herbs, sprouting seeds are available in the store. They are sold in plastic see-through packets or foil packs. If you are buying potted herbs, these are usually sold in plastic pots or plastic nursery bags.

Enjoying Fresh Herbs

We eat fresh herbs because we like how it affects the flavor of the food we eat, and how it adds vibrant color to our food. A bonus incentive is our food gets added nutritional value. We usually come across fresh herbs when we eat fresh vegetable salad or dishes garnished with fresh herbs. Most times, we see fresh herbs mixed in with the other ingredients, added during cooking, usually when the food is nearly done besides extracting the flavor from the fresh herbs.

It is easy to eat fresh herbs because they are delicious. They look and taste like other leafy vegetables. They are not difficult to eat or swallow since fresh herbs are usually finely-chopped.  


You can put freshly-cut herbs in the refrigerator. Put these inside a plastic bag or wrap them in a paper cloth or towel before putting them inside the refrigerator to extend their freshness. If you have a freezer bag, put the fresh herb leaves inside and store them in the freezer. Just make sure to wash the fresh herbs thoroughly and dry them well. 

The good thing about fresh herbs is you can dry them. Dried herbs have a longer shelf life. Flash-dry it by putting it inside a microwave and heating for 20 seconds (shorter or longer depending on the condition of the leaves) and once it is brittle, you can crush it and put it inside an herb bottle or any container with a lid. Place the container somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. Another drying technique is to spread the sorrel leaves out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle.


It is hard to pick a particular dish that cannot accommodate a sprinkling of fresh, finely-chopped herbs, or some green leaves added to eat for extra flavor. Stir fry, sauté, broil, fry, roast – there is always a fresh herb that can improve the food. Noodles, rice, stew, broth, meat, poultry, seafood – all of these are improved by adding fresh herbs as an ingredient. From Asia to Europe, America to Africa, and every place in between, there is colorful, flavorful, ingenious, and fantastic use of fresh herbs in the kitchen.  

Nutritional Benefits:

Fresh herbs offer a great variety of nutritional benefits. If you have the choice on which fresh herb to buy in terms of nutritional value, go for oregano, rosemary, parsley, and basil. Fresh herbs have significant amounts of the essential vitamins A, C, and K. More importantly, fresh herbs contain protective polyphenols. These are plant compounds that give herbs their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.



  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: varies
  • Carbs: varies
  • Sugar: varies
  • Fiber: varies
  • Protein: varies
  • Fat: varies
  • Saturated Fat: varies

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