Monday, July 8, 2013

Do you Know your Culinary Herbs? Herb Identification Chart and Benefits

Do you know your culinary herbs by sight? How about their health benefits for both you and your chickens?  Here are a few varieties of herbs that I grow in my herb garden and the wonderful goodness of each.


I grow both Lime Basil and Sweet Italian Basil.  Basil has antibacterial properties and enhances mucus membrane health.  All types of basil work as a fly deterrent as well. 

Basil makes delicious pesto when combined with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts and is also wonderful when paired with fresh mozzarella cheese and home grown tomatoes with some balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, or assembled between two sliced of Italian bread as a grilled cheese sandwich.


Oregano and Marjoram closely resemble each other - and for good reason. They are 'cousins' and in fact oregano is often called 'wild marjoram'. Oregano works to strengthen the immune system and is thought to battle E.coli, salmonello, infectious bronchitis and coccidiosis, while marjoram is a laying stimulant and detoxifier with anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. 

Oregano is of course an important ingredient in spaghetti sauce and works well sprinkled on pizza. Marjoram, while not as commonly using in cooking, can be substituted any time a recipe calls for oregano and is often paired with mushrooms and eggs in dishes.


The mint family often gets a bad rap for taking over any area in which is it planted but mint has many benefits including working as a natural insect and rodent repellent.  Mint also helps to naturally cool the body, so brews up in to delicious iced herbal tea or freezes into cooling ice cube treats for the chickens.

I grow three varieties of mint: spearmint, orange mint and chocolate mint, as well as lemon balm and bee balm which are also both part of the mint family.  I use fresh mint leaves as garnishes on cheesecake, cupcakes and cakes. Paired with edible flowers or berries, they make beautiful edible garnishes.


Parsley works as a laying stimulant for chickens and also aids in blood vessel development. Parsley is extremely high in vitamins. Commonly used as an edible garnish on a plate, or sprinkled into a pasta or meat dish for a dash of color, I grow both the curly and flat flat varieties.


Common Sage and Pineapple Sage couldn't be more different in appearance, scent or taste.  Pineapple sage has a bright green veined leaf and sports vibrant red flowers. Smelling and tasting like pineapple, the leaves brew into excellent iced tea.  Conventional sage has a sort of soft leaf and bluish-purple flowers. Common sage is often paired with roasted chicken.

As for health benefits, Pineapple Sage aids in nervous system development which Common Sage is an antioxidant and anti-parasitic in addition to boosting overall health.

Tarragon, Rosemary and Lavender are three more herbs that I grow in our herb garden.  Tarragon pairs wonderfully with eggs and I often add the fresh leaves to scrambled eggs, while  Rosemary is often used when roasting meats and poultry. Highly aromatic lavender is wonderful baked into breads, cookies and cupcakes and can be used a a stress reliever and sleep aid.

Tarragon is an antioxidant, Rosemary helps with pain relief and aids in respiratory health as well as acts as a natural insecticide. Lavender works double duty - increasing blood circulation while working as a natural insecticide.


Thyme and Dill are two herbs I grow that I use most frequently in cooking. Thyme is often an ingredient in soups, sauces and marinades, as well as stuffings that I make. Thyme pairs well with eggs, which also often make an appearance at our table.  Being of Scandinavian descent, I am very partial to dill and add it to egg, potato and shrimp salads, omelets, salmon dishes and more.

Health benefits of thyme include  aiding in respiratory health, and working as an antibacterial, antioxidant and  anti-parasitic. Dill is an antioxidant and relaxant that also aids in respiratory health.

Do you grow any herbs? What is your favorite to grow? How about to cook with? I would love to hear from you!



13 comments:

  1. I just started growing herbs this year! I have Basil, Oregano, & Dill. I could put Dill in almost anything it's so good! I grew all of them from seeds which is even more rewarding :) Lessons learned: Grow more next year! And in more varieties, I would love to make my own herbal tea and get more creative when cooking. Love your blog!

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  2. Love growing herbs - it's simply one the best and smartest things you can add to your cooking. Simply for taste but he health benefits are amazing! Had an Italian grandma that got it right and passed on all her little tricks for better living my way. Basil happens to be my favorite and found a favorite this year with Lemon mint. -Carole

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  3. I had no idea these herbs were so useful in so many ways. Can they grow in containers? There is no way I could do a garden or even a raised bed garden right now. We have started our 4th year in drought and terrible heat. The sun kills everything. Also, do you have a little book showing the herbs you use, and for what they are used for? Any herbs for the nest boxes? Thanks Pat tha.boyz.mom@gmail.com

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    1. Yes, herbs will grow in containers or even in pots on the windowsill. All the information on them will be in my book which is coming out this fall, but here's some more info on specific herbs: http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com/2012/07/benefits-of-herbs.html

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  4. My patio is surrounded by pots of herbs! I have Genovese basil, cilantro (now becoming coriander), dill, thyme, oregano, flat & curly parsley, and sage. I have rosemary bushes near my fence, too. And...my all time favorite snack is caprese salad - garden fresh heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella, fresh basil & balsamic vinegar! This Italian just can't live without my herbs!

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    1. Oh same here! That's the perfect summer dinner - fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden with a splash of balsamic...yum!

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  5. Didn't know that lemon balm is in the mint family. (It does spread and take over space.) I like your suggestion to use the leaves for a garnish. I tend to use lemon balm as green addition to a bouquet of flowers.

    I would like to add chocolate mint to my garden. I read a suggestion to add it to the ground coffee that is brewing for flavor.

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    1. Great idea to use the lemon balm in bouquets...I love my chocolate mint. It makes nice iced tea as well...I'll have to try it in coffee.

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  6. I started growing herbs aswell. Nasturtium is buy far the easiest and proobably the prettiest herb i grow. Plus when it gets tons of Aphids on them i just hand them to the chicks:)Thyme, however, is my favorite to eat. i put everything i have in salads.

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  7. Is Camomille (greens and flowers) safe for chickens? I have a camomille-mint-strawberry salad going for their before bed snack. Thought I'd better check.

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    1. Yes chamomille is fine for them. They will LOVE that salad.

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  8. Your photos are lovely. I just want to look a them and plant more herbs. Thanks for posting!

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  9. Q: where can I find/buy these herbs?
    I don't have a nursery nearby where I live... :(
    Most all of the seed/plant catalogs I get, have at best, a minimal selection of herbal plants...

    My dream, is to plant 1/2 acre(or more) of nothing but herbs & spices(that is, if spices will even grow in Indiana)...
    what will I do with so much herbs & spice? share it....sell it...use it....who knows? :)

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Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily
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