There’s nothing more satisfying or more delicious than home cooking, but sometimes getting a recipe just right can be a real challenge. Most of the time, the secret to that perfect meal is all in the ingredients.
Whether you’re trying to do justice by grandma’s old recipe book or encouraging picky eaters to chow down with a concoction of your own, fresh herbs add a special, irresistible something to any dish. Not only are homegrown herbs healthy and delicious, they can also help purify your air and make your home feel cozier!
So, give your home cooking an extra kick and transform your kitchen into a personal herb garden using these tasty tricks.
We all know that most plants thrive in warm weather, but it’s a well-kept gardening secret that some seeds actually grow better when left in the cold. Not every plant needs a cold start, so be sure to read up on the needs of your herb of choice, but some, like lavender and rosemary, tend to grow best when chilled for a few weeks before planting.
Now, you could just leave your seeds outside during the winter for this process—leaving them susceptible to blizzards and hungry birds—or you could store them safely in your Danby fridge or freezer. Danby’s compact fridges and standalone freezers are perfect for keeping your seeds at the ideal germination temperature without getting lost in drawers full of snacks or falling prey to high humidity and mould.
Of course, sunlight is crucial for maintaining a thriving garden. Maybe you have plenty of natural light in your kitchen, and a big, sunny windowsill is more than enough to keep your garden going. If so, great! But if you’re not so lucky in your living space, or you hail from a colder, gloomier climate, your plants might need an extra boost of sunshine.
Danby offers several home herb growers that keep plants in perfect growing conditions. Fans keep air circulating and fresh, and digitally timed LEDs mimic natural sunlight even on the cloudiest of days. You can monitor humidity and light levels and keep your garden protected from bugs and disease, as well as from tiny hands (or paws) set on undoing all your hard work. But, if all the bells and whistles aren’t for you, you can still help your plants keep their sunny disposition with a small LED or fluorescent bulb.
A Rocky Start
There’s no universal rule when it comes to herb care—each herb’s needs are as different as their flavours! Some herbs, like thyme, oregano, and sage, prefer lower light and rockier soils. Dry conditions and poor soil quality actually bring out the richest flavours and aromas in these culinary staples—who would have thought? On the flip side, basil, cilantro, and some mint varieties tend to flourish in rich soil and plenty of water, so make sure to tailor your care to the needs of each plant.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to let the soil become dry to the touch between waterings to prevent roots from moulding, and be sure to water deeply every few days. Be careful to strike a good balance with your water schedule: overwatering can cause your herbs to lose flavour, but underwatering can cause the plants to become stunted or flower too soon, which also ruins the flavour of the leaves.
A New Leaf
Don’t be afraid to go wild harvesting those delicious leaves once your plant is fully grown—regular pruning is actually good for herbs’ growth, as it helps them focus their energy on making new leaves instead of maintaining old ones. As long as you leave enough large leaves for your plant to absorb sunlight, both your family and your flora will thank you for harvesting regularly.
But once you’ve picked your herbs, how do you keep them for future use? Some people invest in fancy dehydrators, but all you really need is an oven or range. Just spread your fresh herbs out on a baking sheet and leave them in the oven for 2 to 4 hours at low heat.
The style and simplicity of a Danby range is perfect for this step, not to mention it’s the perfect size to dry your herbs without wasting time or electricity. Now you have perfectly preserved herbs ready to be sprinkled over salmon or tossed over tofu anytime, but be sure to save some to serve fresh!
Amanda, Your Appliance Expert