There are so many uses for the herbs you grow in your herb garden, from culinary, medicinal and teas to cleaning solutions and beauty aids. Your herbs can be used fresh or dried in a variety of recipes. If you sell or give away your excess herbs, the recipient will appreciate your including recipes for particular herbs.
You can use your dried herbs, instead of store bought, in any recipe that has your herbs as an ingredient. You can also use fresh herbs from your garden in place of dried herbs in recipes, but remember that because fresh herbs still retain the essence and moisture of the herb plant, your fresh herbs will be more potent than dried, and you will need to use a smaller quantity in your culinary recipes.
A wonderful way to preserve your fresh herbs and use them year-round in culinary dishes is to make herb vinegars. Harvest your fresh herbs in the morning when the plant is plump with hydration so the fragrance and essence is high. Place several stems or leaves of your herb in a bottle, fill it with white vinegar, cap it tightly and store in a cool place for six-to-eight weeks before using it.
Herb butter is another way to add the flavor of your dried herbs to culinary creations. Add 4 tbsp. of your dried herbs to 1/4 lb.of softened butter and a dash of lemon juice if you wish. Mix the herbs and butter thoroughly then store your herb butter in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.
Medicinal and Teas
Herbs are not only known to add flavor to culinary dishes, but many herbs, like chamomile, bergamot, comfrey, mint, catnip, parsley, sage, tansy, St John's Wort, thyme, wormwood and yarrow, also have soothing or medicinal qualities. Snip off leaves or sprigs from your herb plants and add them to your teapot to brew. Or dry your herbs, store them in clean, lidded jars, and use a tea ball to brew one or more of your dried herbs for soothing, healthy teas. Always check with your doctor before using a homemade recipe for medicinal purposes.
Using garden herb recipes formulated for particular household cleaning jobs is cost effective, easy and good for the environment. For a general cleaner and disinfectant, boil 2 1/2 cups water and add a handful of thyme leaves, either fresh or dried. Simmer this mix, covered, for several hours at medium-low heat. Cool the mixture then strain it through a tight strainer or cheesecloth. Pour the strained water into a spray bottle, top the thyme water with white vinegar and a squirt of dish soap. Not only will this clean and disinfect, it will also leave a pleasant scent, particularly if you use leaves from a "flavored" thyme plant.
Use herbs from your garden to make various beauty aids for your hair and skin. A nice-smelling, cleansing rinse for your hair can be made by placing lavender blossoms and leaves in a quart jar until it is half full then filling it with white vinegar and covering it with a lid or plastic. Store the mix in a dark cabinet or closet for about four weeks. Strain the lavender out and use the fragrant mixture as a cleansing hair rinse by mixing one part lavender vinegar with one part distilled water.
A natural skin toner can be made by taking 1 tsp. of dried herb flowers of yarrow, sage or lemon balm and adding it to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 30 minutes then strain the herb flowers out. Store the refreshing skin toner in a lidded jar in a cool place.