Herbs can transform ordinary foods and always enhance the flavour of your favourite dishes. The amount used in cooking depends on individual taste and on the type of herb. Strongly flavoured herbs such as bay, sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary should be used sparingly. Herbs have also been used for centuries to promote good health but always consult a doctor first if you have a condition, which needs attention.
Chop your gathered herbs at the last minute so that the full flavour of the aromatic oils is captured in the dish. Fresh herbs go well with vegetables and can often be used as a seasoning instead of salt. Basil and savory are valuable to people on low-salt diets. Many fresh herbs such as caraway, chervil, lemon balm, salad burnet, savory and sorrel are not readily available from the local fruit and vegetable market but can all be grown easily and quickly in your garden or on the kitchen window sill. Remember that the flavour of dried herbs is more concentrated so you should use them in smaller quantities.
Today I’m starting on an alphabet of herbs to take us into winter. The first one is going to be ANGELICA. See picture above from Wikipedia above.
This is a biennial or perennial herb, which grows to 20 cms or more. Leaves are feather-like and soft green, stems are round, ribbed and hollow. Flowers are yellow-green in umbels, i.e. a clustr of flowers with stalks of nearly equal length, which spring from about the same point. Best suited to cool climate areas where it can be planted in sun or semi-shade. Shelter from strong wind is desirable because the stems are brittle.
It is said that Angelica was first used medicinally after an angel revealed its powers to cure the plague. Carthusian monks first used the seeds in the making of Chartreuse and it is also used in Vermouth.
At one time houses were scented by the burning roots and seeds in order to purify the interior.
Angelica stems can be candied In its candied form the stalks become bright green and look most attractive when decorating cakes. They can also be used instead of sugar when stewing sour fruits like rhubarb. It is a useful plant because you can use the leaves, stems, roots and seeds. Good value for effort in growing!
The edible roots and can be served as a vegetable.
Include chopped leaves in salads. If you dry the leaves first, they can be used for pot pourri and herb pillows.
The tips can be cooled in jams and marmalade.
The seeds are used in flavouring gin and some liqueurs. The roots can be dried then ground or powdered to use as a fixative in pot pourri.
MEDICINAL USES OF ANGELICA
Angelica is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The plant acts as an expectorant and can be used to relieve the symptoms of a cold or to soothe a cough.
Angelica stimulates the circulation is also used by medical herbalists in cases of nervous asthma, urinary infection and painful periods.
Angelica can help you to avoid flatulence and ease digestion. It stimulates and warms the digestive system.
MORE ABOUT HERBS
- Fresh herbs can be dried or frozen for winter use.
- Basil, thyme, marjoram and nasturtium can be used as a pepper substitute.
- Herbs can be used to replace salt intake: try lovage, thyme and marjoram.
- Scatter edible flowers over salads: marigolds, nasturtium and the blue flowers of borage all look fantastic used this way.
- Comfrey makes an excellent liquid fertiliser with a high potash content. Steep leaves in hot water for 24 hours. Bottle in an airtight container and dilute in the ratio of 1:10 leaves to water.
Source of the above: Environment Friendly Home Hints by Family Circle and
Traditional Herbal Remedies by Jenny Plucknett
Warning: Do not take Angelica if you suffer from diabetes.