When cooking with fresh herbs we only need a handful of leaves to taste the benefits but that adds up to roughly 18 million pots a year on Tesco shelves.
Ivan Smith works for Humber VHB, the UK's leading grower of herbs in West Sussex. The quality of their herbs is down to the expertise of Humber's growers and packers. Ivan is in charge of the growing side. He knows exactly when to adjust temperature levels as the weather changes outside.
When cooking with herbs, the general rule is to add them at the end. ‘Herbs such as basil contain essential oils that quickly escape into the air when exposed to heat during cooking,' says Ivan. ‘Herbs like thyme have oils that are more water soluble, so they "dissolve" more readily during slow cooking to flavour casseroles and stews.'
‘Basil and parsley are the most flexible for meals like an omelette. And I like wrapping a strawberry with a peppery basil leaf and dipping it into dark chocolate.'
Ivan's herb tips
Don't overwater herbs, as a rule just water them when the top of the soil is dry.
Pots are best positioned in good light on a windowsill, away from cold draughts or dry heat.
Harvest the leaves by pinching off the top sprigs above the next set
of shoots to let them come through later.