As our holiday feasts are only weeks away, it is time to move our attention to the most herbaceous upcoming months. Herbs will play such an important role in all of your dishes that they are your secret MVP’s!
Vibrant, festive, decorative, and pungent in flavor and smell, certain herbs shine during the holidays. Herbs will enhance your dishes, cocktails, and more while adding distinct aromas. Their simple beauty will shine as garnishes and even table décor. Certain herb varietals are used more during specific seasons.
Fall focuses in on Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, and Parsley. As you have begun browsing through Thanksgiving recipes, you will notice how Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage are often used together for poultry and stuffing. You know that moment when you and everyone else thinks or says, “Ahh, it smells Thanksgiving”? That is all because of these distinct darlings I’m going to be shining some light on here today!
As wondrous and important as herbs are, they can be tricky to strip, steep, store, and more. That’s why I turned to my friends over at Hutzler to show you how to efficiently clean, cook with, and store these special enhancements.
Before we get into that, let’s get you acquainted with these herbs!
Rosemary may be the most familiar herb, known for it’s distinctive needle like leaves and thick stem. The flavor profiles of Rosemary are lemony pine, woodsy, with a tea like aroma and a slight astringency. This makes it the perfect herb in conjunction to the olive oil and fresh garlic often used for Fall dishes . During the Thanksgiving season Rosemary is used to enhance poultry, lamb, stuffing, pork, and beef roasts. This herb withstands higher temperatures than most, making it versatile when infusing soup, gravy, stocks, cranberries, and more.
The beauty of the distinctive Rosemary twig elevates a table spread and can also be used to garnish cocktails like this stunning Sangria from Jerry James Stone.
Thyme is also a well known herb, with its tiny clustered leaves on thin stems. With it’s gentle, earthy aroma and a subtle minty taste, thyme is a wonderful herb for root vegetables, poultry and lamb. It is widely used in stuffing, soups, and stews. Thyme is also an herb that does not have much longevity when it comes to freshness. With those tiny leaf clusters, it spoils quickly and is a difficult herb to strip. As you can see from Bon Appetit’s Classic Turkey Gravy with Thyme, often times you use the whole stem to infuse flavor. However, even when tied in a bundle, these suckers will stray! Good luck getting all of those wily stems out of your dish! To get all the flavor with none of the stragglers, use a high quality Herb Infuser.
Sage is a beautiful herb with woody stems, long wintry grayish leaves, and a velvety pebbled texture. It has elements of sweet and savory and is highly aromatic. With such flavor strength, Sage is often used in conjunction with other herbs. It is common to find Sage bundled together with Rosemary & Thyme in packets at the market. These three herbs make an ideal trio for your Thanksgiving turkey and any other poultry. Epicurious uses the star trio along with Parsley in an herb roasted turkey recipe that will send you to the moon! The earthiness and subtle bitterness of this herb compliments apples and sausage, so it will make any stuffing a star! Fry for added flavor and a gorgeous garnish on potato dishes. Grant made Bobby Flay’s Eleven Layer Potato Gratin last year for Thanksgiving, and oh my herbs, it was fantastic because of those flash fried Sage leaves!
While you may be used to using Oregano in Italian dishes, this strong, warm, and slightly bitter herb pairs beautifully with garlic and lemon for adorning turkeys, lamb, and thanksgiving casseroles. Try this simple yet incredibly flavorful Salt-Roasted Turkey with Oregano from Epicurious.
So very similar in looks to Oregano, the big difference comes from the delicateness and the subtle sweetness of Marjoram. It also has a slightly smaller leaf than oregano. However, these two are often substituted for each other in recipes. If you are ever without labels just smell each herb and the sweetness or lack there of will guide you! Sweet pine and citrus enhances poultry, soups, stews, and sauces.This herb compliments and pairs so well with others it should be considered the MVP of the whole bunch! Take a look at this gorgeous Marjoram -Infused Squash Bisque.
Flat leaf and curly Parsley is a common herb that is most often used as a gorgeous green garnish in potato dishes or stews. Parsley has a freshness and lightness that rounds out and balances out the other herbs in savory dishes like poultry. It’s vibrancy does stand out in a Thanksgiving side dish celebrating veggies like these Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Thyme.
Herb Preparation and Storage
Now that you have all the details on the 6 herbs of Fall, it’s important you know how to handle them and store them.
A difficult part of prepping herbs is stripping them. Due to the tiny leaf clusters and skinny stems, thyme is one of the hardest herbs to strip. Just ask Tilly, my herb stripper. Those chubby fingers can’t usually get the job done!
So we have now moved on to a more efficient method!
This Herb Stripper has graduated holes on either side to fit all of the different stem sizes. As it strips, it collects the leaves in the base. The lid, when turned over, transforms into a measuring device for all of your loose leaves. This is a great kitchen tool for the holidays to help you save the time and hassle of stripping fresh herbs with the usual methods.
Note that many of these herbs will perish within a few days of purchasing. It is important to freeze any leftover portion in the proper vessel like a Gourmac Food Saver within a few days. This Food Saver is effective due to it’s 3 piece model, which includes a base you fill with water, a holder ring that keeps herbs in place, and a cover.
Now that you have learned all about these essential Fall herbs, I hope you have a flavorful and happy holidays!
As always, email me if you have any questions. And because sharing is especially sweet during the holidays, please share this post!
*This post was sponsored in part by Gourmac, a division of Hutzler Manufacturing. I was provided the Herb related Tools used in this post and video.
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