Each herb, by itself, possesses a particular aroma and flavor. And it is specifically for this aroma and flavor that a particular herb is used. But sometimes, that is not enough. There is a way to take things to the next level, so to speak. Bringing together a variety of aromas and flavors opens a new dimension to taste. And cooking is not the only aspect of human culture that made use of combining herbs. Rituals made by people who believe in the power or ability of specific herbs to serve a particular purpose connected to religion, faith, and mysticism utilized herbs – put them on display, burned them, kept them.
This is what herb bundles are – different herbs tied together because when used together, in cooking, or when burned, there is a special, unique effect, in how the food tastes or in how the herbs function in a supernatural manner. When we say herb bundles, it can be one of two things: for cooking and for cleansing or purification.
A popular type of herb bundle is known as bouquet garni. It is French for garnished bouquet. Different herbs are tied together and used to prepare stock, soups and stews, as well as casseroles. As soon as cooking is complete, the herb bundle is removed. There is not one specific herb combination when making bouquet garni. Some of the herbs commonly used include thyme, bay leaf, parsley, basil, chervil, rosemary, and tarragon. A bouquet garni doesnt always come in the form of a bouquet; sometimes, chefs put different herbs in a small sachet made of cheesecloth, muslin, or coffee filter tied with butcher twine to secure the contents inside.
Another type of herb bundle is the one that serves a religious and ritualistic purpose. Smudging is the act of burning an herb bundle. The purpose of smudging is for purification, to cleanse the air around a specific area and rid of bad spirits or negative energy. Unlike herb bundles used for cooking, herb bundles used for cleansing and purification (or smudging) need not be a combination of different herbs. It can just be a bundle of dried herbs.
There are other uses of herb bundles. Some make herb bundles as home decoration. Some use herb bundles as bouquet for wedding.
Herb Bundles Trivia
- Herb bundles have been used for their medicinal and curative properties.
- Herb bundles are placed on the doorway with the belief that it will keep bad spirits from entering the house.
Herb Bundles Buying Guide
If you need a herb bundle, there are two ways to get it. If you have a garden, you can make your own. If you don’t have a garden, you can buy herbs. You can buy herbs and make your own – this way, you get to choose what herbs are used in making the herb bundle. If you don’t need a custom-made herb bundle, there are ready-made herb bundles sold in markets, nurseries, or specialty stores catering to this particular kind of item.
When buying herbs that you plan to use in making herb bundles which you will use as incense, consider that not all herbs that you can use for cooking is ideal for burning. Some herbs, when burned, can trigger allergic reaction or be toxic to some people with a medical and health condition.
Herb Bundles Production & Farming in Texas
Many herbs typically used in making herb bundles 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.
Regardless of how you will use your herb bundle – for cooking, smudging, decoration, or as bouquet – an important consideration is how herbs used in herb bundle (fresh or dried) are exposed to pesticides and if these pesticides have a potentially lethal effect on us if we inhale the smoke from the herb bundle or eat the food cooked using bouquet garni. Growers involved in commercial mass-production of herbs are often involved in the use of pesticides. 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 making an herb bundle, it is ideal to inquire about the source of herbs and whether or not these were grown using pesticides.
The practice of making herb bundles is done all over the world. While the French has the bouquet garni, culinary practices in other parts of the world also feature the making and use of herb bundles which may not be as popular as bouquet garni and do not have a particular name to call it. The burning of herb bundles has been practiced in different cultures where these herbs are common, and the practice of using it as an incense is usually related to their own specific folk beliefs involving health, spirits, luck, etc.
Packaging is an important part of preparing herbs to be sold in the market. This, however, is not part of selling herb bundles. Stores selling herb bundles have these on display without any packaging. When someone buys it, the herb bundle is just wrapped in a paper wrapping or placed inside a plastic bag.
Enjoying Herb Bundles
Unlike individual herbs – fresh or dried – used for cooking which are mostly edible and eaten along with the dish (with the exception of herbs like bay leaf which flavors food but cannot be eaten), herb bundles are used for cooking, not for eating.
It is common practice to make herb bundles on demand. Where there is a ready supply of herbs, there is no need to make herb bundles for later use. Nonetheless, there are a few important tips regarding herb bundle storage to make sure it does not deteriorate.
For fresh herb bundles, storage options include wrapping it using plastic wrap, putting it in a freezer bag and storing it inside the freezer. This will keep the fresh herb bundle from being dehydrated.
For dried herb bundles, do not place dry herb bundles where it is exposed to direct sunlight to preserve the aroma and flavor of the herbs.
Bouquet garni is used in making these dishes: Boeuf bourguignon, Blanquette de veau, Bouillabaisse, Brown Windsor soup, Carbonnade flamande, Cassoulet, Coq au vin, Court-bouillon, French onion soup, Lapin chasseur or huntsman’s rabbit, Ossobuco, Pot-au-feu, and Poule au pot.
Another use of herb bundles is when roasting or grilling meat. Different herbs are tied together and used as herb brush or basting brush. The idea is to infuse the flavors of the herbs to the meat slowly, by brushing the meat frequently. Some of the herbs used for making herb basting brush include rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Herbs offer a great variety of nutritional benefits. Any nutrients herbs can provide is absorbed by the body by ingestion. Herb bundles like bouquet garni is used for flavor, although it is possible that some of the nutrients is transferred to the food when the herbs were subjected to heat and mixed with the food for a period of time during cooking.