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Tips from a pro chef to help you bring a little more green into your culinary life.
Spring is officially here, and gardening season is upon us. If you love the fresh taste of home grown herbs, but aren’t so keen to get down in the dirt yourself, we have the answer for you: indoor gardens.Think less farm-to-table, and more counter-to-table: having herbs at your fingertips while you’re cooking is a great way to ensure your food tastes fresh and delicious.For some expert advice about growing and using fresh herbs at home, we caught up with Chef Julian Bond.
If you have a patio or garden space, he suggests growing certain herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and chives) in an open garden and more fragile herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro and tarragon) in pots on a patio. However, if you don’t have the garden space or prefer to have your herbs in the kitchen, you’ve still got options, thanks to innovative indoor growing and storage products.
If you’re hesitant to start growing your own herbs, Chef Bond suggests going to Garden Works to pick up a few small plants first, and if you can keep them throughout the season you are ready to start with seeds.
As for keeping those home grown herbs fresh enough to not waste any, Chef Bond has a few tips. “The best way to store is in a 1 litre tall plastic container. Place a tiny amount of water in the bottom, place the herbs in stem first and place the lid on tight. They will keep fresh for a long time.” Another great tip is to freeze your herbs in ice cube trays—finely chop the herbs and place them in the tray with a little bit of water to cover and freeze.MORE: Chef Julian Bond on The Most Dangerous Ingredient in Your Kitchen
And once you’ve got all these great fresh home grown herbs, you’re ready to make a delicious herb-centric meal—like Chef Bond’s favourite herby recipe: fusilli pasta with fresh herbs and chili.Ready to grow? Check out our favourite herb growing and storage products below.
When Chef Bond is cooking with fresh herbs he goes to his Urban Cultivator (price upon request), which he uses to grow various herbs throughout the year. It is a fully automated system, which means that it’s easy to use for those without a green thumb, and the Urban Cultivator seeds are organic and non-GMO, which means you can be sure you’re growing fresh healthy herbs. It is available in commercial and residential options, and is a stylish way to grow fresh herbs in your kitchen all year.
“Growing at home is trial and error. The hardy plants need to be cut back, but once established require very little maintenance. The fragile plants I replant every year.”
A granite herb garden (price upon request) is the best way to show how stylish and green you are by allowing you to grow herbs right in your own kitchen. Inspired by the fresh farm-to-table trend with a focus on style, it is available in all SieMatic StoneDesign countertop options, granite and laminate. The freestanding garden is the perfect indoor garden for an open concept space with a lot of natural sunlight reaching the kitchen.
For an easy-to-use starter kit, the AeroGarden Bounty Elite Kit ($299) from Williams-Sonoma is a great pick. The touch screen control panel allows for easy setup and notifies you when you need to add more water or nutrients. With no soil needed, this is a mess-free way to grow herbs indoors. This sleek stainless steel countertop indoor gardening system would look great in any kitchen, and is great for growing fresh herbs at home.
The My Greens Light Garden ($149) from Gardener’s Supply is compact to fit on countertops and attractive enough to belong there. The system doesn’t require specialized pods or fertilizer packs, which makes continuously growing the herbs you want easy and convenient. The top of the system is adjustable, so it can be raised as the plants grow to ensure they are getting the right amount of heat and light. The washable and reusable trays make harvesting and replanting quick and easy. Plant the trays at intervals for a bountiful continuous harvest.
If you only grow herbs in small batches, the Prepara Stainless Steel herb Savor ($32.95) from Williams-Sonoma is a great pick. The sleek design looks great and is compact enough to fit in your fridge door, and will keep herbs home grown fresh for up to three weeks.
Home grown herbs are always better, whether they’re fresh or dried for long-term use. The Dry-It Rack ($29.97) from Home Depot is a convenient (and collapsible) way to dry out your whole crop at once.
Picking herbs from their stems can be a time consuming task, but with the Chef’n ZipStrip Herb Stripper ($11.95) from Crate and Barrel it’s a breeze. This handy little gadget can strip herbs with varying stem sizes, catches all the herbs in the bowl, and can measure up to two tablespoons for speed and convenience in the kitchen.
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