For thousands of years, herbs have been used as scents, foods, flavourings, medicines, disinfectants, even as currency.
Herbs have been described as the soul of cookery and the praise of cooks. Used judiciously, they can transform a routine meal into a sensuous experience of tangy, spicy, refreshing flavours and crunchy textures.
However, the range of edible herbs and the number of ways of using them was much greater in the past than today. A salad for King Henry VIII included over 50 leaves, buds, flowers and roots.
After the Industrial Revolution and the move from the countryside into the towns, herbs became less important in the kitchen. Now, with a fresh interest in the culinary arts, herbs are enjoying a revival!
Most fruit and vegetable growers today tailor their crops to meet the demands of packaging and supermarket shelf-life rather than taste, so flavouring herbs and spices must come to the rescue.
Herbs enliven any dish, snack or drink! They can also supply extra nutrition to everyday meals, as many herbs, such as parsley, watercress and comfrey, contain a small but rich balance of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Many herbs make foods more palatable by easing digestion.