Botanically speaking, Oxford Languages tells us, an herb is a “seed-bearing plant that does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering.” However, the definition that’s listed first is much broader: “any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume.”
Chef Jamie Simpson likes that definition because of how beautifully it describes our farm-fresh herbs, saying that, “If we use carrot tops to enhance dishes in interesting ways, then that extra layer of flavor serves as an herb.”
Farmer Lee Jones Hails Fresh Herbs
Farm-fresh herbs, Farmer Lee says, are as different from dried herbs as night and day. “There’s a vast difference in flavor, aroma, texture, and visual appeal. Compare mint to shiso and lavender to lemon balm—and the mind can quickly explode with possibilities. Fresh herbs cover the entire spectrum of flavor, and you can pick the ones you want to precisely add the right layers of flavor for your dishes and menus.”
In fact, one of Farmer Lee’s favorite spring activities is to watch as fresh herbs poke through the ground after a long cold winter. “We love to harvest herbs early—in the demi-top stage— because, like microgreens, the small leaves resemble what they look like in the field, giving you both intensity of flavor and natural visual appeal. This makes them just plain fun to use.”
For chefs who are new to The Chef’s Garden—or at least to its farm-fresh herbs—what’s the best one for them to use first? (That’s the question we asked Farmer Lee and note how carefully it’s constructed. We’ve learned not to ask him for his favorite because he has too many!) His answer: our fresh herb sampler. That way, he says, you can experiment with numerous distinctive flavors and then order more of the ones you’ll ultimately use in your dishes.
Choosing Fresh Herbs
Chef Jamie talks about a couple of different approaches to selecting just the right herb for a dish. One approach involves creating a new dish and then determining what’s “missing” before experimenting with herbs to see how you can perfectly fill in the flavor gap.
You may decide that you need to use mint. If so, you could then look at the descriptions of the fresh mint varieties that we’re harvesting at the peak of flavor. If this allows you to select exactly the right variety, great! If not, try the mint sampler and narrow down your choices from there.
As another approach, you can consider the herb first and then decide what dish to build around a particular one. In that case, experiment with our mixed herb offerings:
Asian Fine Herbs
Flavor profiles of herbs, Jamie says, can range from sweet to spicy to acidic. “This makes it a great category to explore, from the traditional options to the more obscure.”
Although no precise definition exists for a “traditional herb,” these heavenly choices sure fit the bill:
Fresh Basil: There’s so much to explore in this category alone—from the rich, mellow African blue basil with its edible lavender flowers to the clean and refreshing Thai basil that offers up a touch of anise to the lusciously lemon-lime opal basil that’s mild and sweet and more. Still experimenting? Try our mixed basil with the best of the day’s harvest.
Fresh Cilantro: This herb is ideal when you want an assertive, pungent herb, whether it’s to spice up a rice dish, create a unique green sauce, or something else entirely. This herb is so prized that it’s used in multiple cuisines, including Caribbean, Chinese, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Southeastern Asian, and more. Whatever you need, you can count on this: cilantro isn’t shy and is ready to help!
Fresh mint: This prized herb is equally at home in sweet dishes and savory, on the plate and in the glass, whether hot or cold, and from cocktail/mocktail hour through dessert: clean, cooling, and delicious. Mint iced tea or lemonade, anyone?
Fresh Parsley: This herb symbolizes spring, rebirth, and hope in ancient traditions, making it the ideal herb for seasonal dishes when winter ebbs. Parsley pairs beautifully with egg dishes and pasta dishes alike as well as in soups, stews, sauces, and pesto. This herb works just as well in chicken, lamb, pork, and veal dishes as in your delicious vegetable-forward ones.
Fresh Sage: This herb partners perfectly with foods rich in fat and oils, such as holiday feasts—and yet is incredibly versatile. Use it in stuffing, and pair it up with onions, potatoes, white beans, and more. Use it on sandwiches and in egg dishes, pasta dishes, soups, and stews. Plus, experiment with the slightly lemony pineapple sage in creative desserts.
Fresh Tarragon: Tarragon offers up the subtle flavors of spring, pairing up well with foods we associate with the season: from fresh asparagus to eggs and from salmon to fava beans and carrots, spring salads, and more. The versatile tarragon works just as well in robust dishes as in delicate ones—and as well in fish dishes as meat-based ones and ones that celebrate the fresh vegetables on your plates.
Even this, though, is just a starter list for the regeneratively farmed fresh herbs that we grow with love.
Additional Fresh Herb Choices
Also experiment with:
Citrus coriander: What a flavor combo! This herb merges a citrusy flavor with a nutty-spicy one with a touch of salty lemon. The texture is mild and tender while the herb gives off the scent of citrus perfume. Citrus coriander adds visual appeal to any plate, too, with its lacy leaves.
Dill blooms: These edible blooms add complex flavors to a dish, a combination of spice and sprout, dill and salt. The edible green stem is juicy and delicious with the feathery blooms adding the hue of sunshine to your plates—a color that many longed for during dark days of winter.
Fresh fennel: Add a touch of Pernod, a soft and sweet licorice flavor, to dishes with fresh fennel. This delicious herb also adds a unique textural experience for diners, thanks to its chewy leaves and crisp stems. A bonus: we think you’ll love the smokey bronze of its foliage.
Anise hyssop: For a strong anise flavor that also offers up notes of black pepper, camphor, lemon, pine, and sage, choose our regeneratively farmed anise hyssop. This herb provides complex flavors along with the scent of black licorice.
English lavender: These firmly textured leaves provide an herbal-peppery flavor that is also quite sweet. Aroma is recognizable, too: pungent, sweet, and sharp.
Lemon verbena: Add mild lemon flavors to dishes without the sourness with our fresh lemon verbena. This herb adds a delicate texture to plates and glasses alike.
Sea samphire: Surprise and delight diners with the salty flavors of the sea in your salads. Also delicious when steamed, this herb is also known as baby asparagus, Glasswort, marsh samphire, and sea beans.
Mixed shiso: This flavorful mix contains our pungent flaming shiso, our red shiso, and our green shiso. The red variety offers up sweet cinnamon flavors with a mint finish while the green variety has a unique flavor: that of cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, and parsley.
Fresh thyme: Slightly pungent, spicy, and sweet, fresh thyme offers up a savory, clove-like flavor. What a complex herb! Herbal. Peppery. Sweet. Earthy finish. Leaves are tender, juicy, and delicious.
Explore Our Signature Blends
Let us create blends for you! Our carefully curated signature blends add layers of marvelous flavor with these varieties:
Asian Signature Blend
French Signature Blend
Italian Signature Blend
Latin Signature Blend
Mediterranean Signature Blend
Health Benefits of Herbs
The National Library of Medicine provides plenty of information about the health benefits of herbs. Right now, we’ll just briefly touch on one of them. Nearly 900 people a month search on “how to reduce salt in food”—and herbs are the perfect way to brilliantly enhance flavor while cutting way back or even eliminating salt in dishes and menus without adding fat or calories.
Order Farm Fresh Herbs Today
Contact your product specialist to order the herbs you need and to ask any questions about what’s best this season.