Whether bitter, sweet or aromatic, fresh herbs give everyday dishes a welcome boost of flavour and colour. Find the right match here.
Go for fresh-looking herbs with blemish-free, vibrant green leaves and a strong aroma. Avoid bunches that have wilted. Living herbs in pots will stay fresher for longer.
Most herbs can be stored in the fridge, except for mint and basil, which last longer at room temperature. Once opened, wrap the stems in damp kitchen paper and use within a few days.
Often the stems, particularly coriander and parsley, contain as much flavour as the leaves – try adding to soups and pastes. Use on teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of chopped fresh.
The most common types of parsley are curled and flat-leaf. Both have a mildly bitter but fresh flavour, though flat-leaf is stronger and generally preferred as a seasoning. Parsley helps bring out the taste of other herbs and spices, and works well with fish, potatoes and grains.
Chives are a type of onion, and have a subtle, oniony flavour. They're a good balance to strong flavours such as mature cheese, and they enhance plain-tasting ingredients like egg or potato. They're great in omelettes or salad dressings, too.
The velvety grey-green leaves of sage have a soft earthy taste that pairs well with meat, especially poultry. It is often used in stuffings and sausagemeat. A delicate herb, sage is best added towards the end of cooking or fried until crisp and used as a garnish.
Tarragon is a strong herb with an aniseed flavour. It is delicious in buttery and creamy sauces, adding tangy vanilla notes. It pairs particularly well with fish, chicken and egg, and is the key flavouring of Bearnaise sauce.
Also know as cilantro, coriander is green and leafy with a strong, citrussy taste. It's extremely versatile, and is particularly popular in Asian, Middle Eastern and Central American dishes. Add towards the end of cooking for maximum fresh flavour – stir a generous handful into curries, tagines or rice dishes.
Meet the expert: Chris Moncrieff, Production Director at Tesco herb supplier, Vitacress
Tell us a little about your job
I'm responsible for everything green and growing. We have over two million pots growing at any one time and produce 18 million plants a year. It's my job to manage timing, growth, humidity and keep the herbs alive and well, year round.
What do you look for in your herbs?
We think that as well as having amazing flavour, herbs should also look great, as they're used for decoration, too. We choose varieties that taste, look and even sound appealing – our Aphrodite curly leaf parsley or Moroccan spearmint, for example.
Where are they grown?
It's all based on the seasons. We have two farms in West Sussex, but when the UK season ends in October, we follow the sunshine and make the most of our farms in Portugal, Spain, Israel, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa.
What's your favourite herb?
It has to be thyme. It has a wonderful scent and an incredible aroma that reminds me of holidays in Corsica, where you can smell it freshly cut by the roadside. It's a durable herb – it grows on rocks in scorching temperatures as well as in cold British gardens, so it's a survivor! It's adaptable, too, and can be used to add flavour to all sorts of dishes.
Make the most of wonderfully fresh and fragrant herbs with this easy Tabbouleh salad.
As featured in Tesco Magazine March 2016.